Wednesday, June 27, 2012
UM takes a break from ND, takes on Pac-12
By Brian Bennett
Michigan announced who it would be playing in the 2014-2016 seasons on Wednesday, but the bigger news might be who it is not playing in 2018-19.
The Wolverines said they would take a break from their series with Notre Dame in those two seasons, though both schools intend to resume the rivalry in the years after. That hiatus will be the first time since 2001 that the Irish and Wolverines don't face one another, and many of those games have been instant classics. Who can forget the heroics of Rocket Ismail, Desmond Howard and Denard Robinson, among many others, in those matchups?
But this isn't the first time the schools have said to each other, "Let's take a break." They didn't play in 2000 or 2001, 1995 or 1996, or in 1983 or 1984. And they didn't play at all between 1943 and 1978.
There has been talk of another break for some time. It's good to see that the teams plan on playing again in the future, though, because the Michigan-Notre Dame game is always a highlight of September.
Michigan also unveiled some of its nonconference opponents from 2014-16, which include three Pac-12 teams. If you were a Wolverines fan hoping to see some of the headliner teams in that league -- USC, Stanford and Oregon, for example -- you're out of luck. It turns out that the Wolverines will play the two newest members of the Pac-12 in Utah and Colorado, plus a single game against Oregon State.
There's a definite Western flavor to Michigan's future schedules, especially in 2015 when both Utah and Oregon State are on the docket, along with UNLV.
While Colorado has been down of late, the game against the Buffaloes can't help but bring back memories of Kordell Stewart's Miracle at Michigan Hail Mary in 1994. Not as many people remember the rematch in 1996, when Michigan swatted away a Hail Mary attempt to win a big road game. The 2016 game at the Big House will be the first meeting between the two schools since 1997.
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon told ESPN.com earlier this month that the Pac-12/Big Ten schedule agreement planned for 2017 gave him the idea to go ahead and add some Pac-12 teams to upcoming slates. We can hope that the series, if it indeed goes ahead as hoped, can include more enticing matchups between the leagues than these. It will also be interesting to see what impact that series may have on the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry, as the Wolverines might want to avoid loading up on difficult nonconference opponents.
Michigan still has two games to fill in 2016. Here's a look at the 2014-16 nonconference schedules:
Aug. 30 Appalachian State
Sept. 6 at Notre Dame
Sept. 13 Miami (Ohio)
Sept. 20 Utah
Sept. 3 at Utah
Sept. 12 Notre Dame
Sept. 19 Oregon State
Sept. 26 UNLV
Sept. 3: TBA
Sept. 10: at Notre Dame
Sept. 17: Colorado
Sept. 24: TBA