- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Brady Hoke didn't like when Notre Dame "chickened out" of the annual series with Michigan.
Hey, I like chicken as much as the next guy. But Michigan's future schedule is so much tastier without Notre Dame.
Michigan's latest addition, Washington, continues to diversify a schedule that Wolverines fans should enjoy in the coming years. The Wolverines and Huskies, who have played several memorable games, including four Rose Bowls, will meet in 2020 in Seattle and the following year in Ann Arbor, Michigan
The problem with playing Notre Dame every year is it decreased the likelihood of Michigan playing a second marquee non-league foe. In 2012, Michigan played both Alabama and Notre Dame, but most years it was the Irish and a bunch of nuthin'.
The Big Ten's move to nine conference games in 2016 virtually guarantees that teams will play only one top opponent outside of the league. So why not have that opponent change every few years?
Look who Michigan has coming up: Oregon State (2015); BYU (2015); Colorado (2016); Florida (2017); Arkansas (2018, 2019); Washington (2020, 2021); UCLA (2022, 2023) and Oklahoma (2025, 2026).
Sure, several of these games are a long way off. Things can change. But the overall slate is much more exciting than one that has only Notre Dame year after year.
Michigan's post-ND schedule approach also could be beneficial with the playoff. The Wolverines' recent wins against Notre Dame haven't done much to help their national profile, while beating Florida or Washington or Oklahoma -- as long as those teams don't fall flat after facing Michigan -- could be pivotal in making the field of four.
At some point, Michigan and Notre Dame will meet again. It will be fun for the fans and the players. But the annual series is done, and Michigan's overall schedule is better off.
16hAndrea Adelson and Austin Ward
1dAndrea Adelson and Austin Ward