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September 13, 2002 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-09-13

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Septemnber 13, 2002
michigandaily. com




No. 7 Michigan at No. 20 Notre Dame.
Blue renews
storied rivalory
By Joe Smith
Daily Sports Editor t r:

Tomorrow, 2:30 p.m. m Notre Dame Stadium s NBC


Strange things happen after rivalry games - even
at Notre Dame. Detroit Lions' cornerback Todd
Lyght flashes a wide grin as he recalls his freshman
year in the secondary for the Fighting Irish in 1987,
when his team traveled home after a hard-fought vic-
tory over Michigan in the Big House.
And the usually orderly and pristine students in
South Bend, Ind. went nuts.
Lyght said for the first time in 30 years, a mas-
sive food fight ensued in the dorms, as the riled up
college kids literally "turned the place upside
"I thought that was cool that the students would
get that riled up that they would cause rukuss on
campus," Lyght said.
And why wouldn't they? Back then, Michigan
vs. Notre Dame was the biggest game of the year.
One of the nation's most heated and competitive
rivalries was bigger than morning chapel, bigger
than "Rudy," bigger than life.
For the past two years, it has not been bigger than
anything. The two teams haven't played since 1999,
and the Irish haven't resembled the dynasty they
once were - missing a bowl game in two of the
past three years. But they have a new coach in
Tyrone Willingham, a new attitude, an undefeated
record-and a top-20 ranking.
The Irish are saying they're "back."
And tomorrow, everyone will find out. After a
two-year hiatus, Michigan and Notre Dame plan to
rekindle the historic rivalry in South Bend for its
30th matchup.
But considering the rivalry's rich past, Willing-
ham has a tough act to follow.
A big reason Michigan-Notre Dame games were
so great was because they were painfully close.
For seven straight seasons from 1988-1994, the
highly-contested battles were decided by 28 points
- that's just four points per game. Many came
down to the final seconds - a last-second field
goal, a heart-breaking kickoff return by Raghib
"Rocket" Ismail. The rivalry had seen them all.
"It was huge," said Desmond Howard, former
Wolverine and 1991 Heisman Trophy Winner. "The
rivalry was as big as Michigan-Ohio State rivalry. I
mean, you have two major universities whose ath-
letic programs are so highly respected, and you

By Jeff Phillips
Daily Sports Editor
Michigan has looked strong in its
first two games, while Notre
Dame's quick start has college foot-
ball fans talking about the return of
the Golden Domers. Add to the mix
national television, a renewed rival-
ry and coach Tyrone Willingham's
first game against Michigan, and
you get every football fan salivat-
Defense is Notre Dame's strength
and it showed against Purdue and
Maryland as the Fighting Irish
allowed fewer than 300 passing
yards combined in their two games.
Cornerback Vontez Duff has loads
of talent and should be a good
matchup against Braylon Edwards.
Should Michigan falter, it will be in
this area.
Edge: Notre Dame

~ighl ight
s rivalry
Wolverines have stopped every
rushing offense they have encoun-
tered this season and the Fighting
Irish's backfield is arguably the
least intimidating. The card that
Notre Dame may play-is the option
attack, which Michigan has not
faced yet - but even then, the
Wolverines should stop it.
Edge: Michigan
SPECIAL TEAMS: Special teams is
where Notre Dame has shown its
talent so far. Kicker Nick Setta is
one of the nation's top scorers and
Duff is a constant threat on kick
returns. Special teams has also
accounted for 25 of Notre Dame's
46 points this season.
Michigan is still struggling with
the kicking game as Philip Brabbs
missed another field goal attempt
against Western Michigan.
The kick return game looks solid
with Jeremy LeSueur and Julius
Curry showing their game-breaking
ability. Still, the Wolverines just
don't have the talent that the Fight-
ing Irish have in this area.
Edge: Notre Dame

Courtesy of the Notre Dame University Athletic Department
Notre Dame alum Raghib "Rocket" ismail has fond memories of the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalries, especially
the game played in 1989 when he returned two kicks for touchdowns in the Irish's 24.19 win.

have a Bo Schembechler going in there against Lou
Holtz - two living legends as far as coaches. That
in of itself makes it a helluva rivalry."
Holtz, now coach at South Carolina, said he'll
never forget that his first game as coach for the
Irish was spoiled by the Wolverines.
"(Michigan quarterback) Jim Harbaugh hit a fade
route to win the game, and then we missed a field
goal from the 25 on the last play," Holtz said.
"They were always great games. And there was a
lot of class by both teams, with no taunting but a
ton of respect for each other."
But after another instant classic in 1994, when
Michigan's Remy Hamilton clinched the Wolver-
ines come-from-behind, 26-24 victory with a 42-
yard field goal - the rivalry cooled off for a while.
The teams didn't play for three years, and when
they resumed the rivalry in 1997, Notre Dame was-
n't the same powerhouse it once was. Under coach
Bob Davie, the Fighting Irish limped to a 7-6
record and an Independence Bowl bid in 1997 -
while the Wolverines claimed a national title.
"Notre Dame fell off a little bit," Lyght said of
his alma mater. "I know they had a problem with
the academic standard being too high so they
couldn't have gone out and recruited as good of
athletes as they would have liked to. So they had to
settle on a lesser athlete who was a better student."

Now, Lyght says Notre Dame has a better coach,'
Willingham, who can bring in the best of both
worlds - solid athletes and students - without
compromising the undying expectations of national
championship contending teams.
But some former players from both teams say a
few things need to happen before the rivalry can be
fully rekindled.
"To get back to that point, both programs are
going to have to regain a lot of that respect, coach-
es have to earn their stripes and they're going to
have some close calls," said Howard. "When
games come down to final minutes or final sec-
onds, those are the grudge matches that fans
remember and they can't wait till next year to
revenge that loss."
They may not have the marquee stars like
Howard, Ismail, Tim Brown or Anthony Carter, but
Michigan and Notre Dame still are the two win-
ningest college football programs in Division I-A.
And Michigan players say the "mystique" is still
there lingering in South Bend. The gold helmets,
"Touchdown Jesus," the ghosts of the rivalry's past
remain lodged in their minds.
And the game is still going to be on NBC.
"Everybody that loves college football will
watch, want to watch or want to know what the
score is," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said.

ning back Chris Perry continued to
impress against Western Michigan
and with the play of Tim Bracken
and David Underwood, he should
have plenty of help. The powerful
Notre Dame defense is weak against
the rush and Michigan should take
Edge: Michigan,
Michigan has struggled a bit at stop-
ping the pass, the Fighting Irish have
yet to show offensive prowess in any
area. Notre Dame will have to find a
second receiving option, as Wolverines'
cornerback Marlin Jackson should shut
down quarterback-turned-wide receiver
Arnaz Battle. Mobile quarterback Car-
lyle Holiday could give Michigan fits,
but he has yet to give any team much
trouble this season.
Edge: Michigan

INTANGIBLES: Coach Tyrone Will-
ingham is at-home for his first big
game at Notre Dame and his team
appears outmatched.
But Notre Dame has found a way
to win in each of its first two
games, so there is no reason to
doubt them now. Also, the fact
Michigan is playing its first road
game this season shouldn't be
Edge: Notre Dame


::k r >:!
..?h :

Willingham and Notre Dame will
give Michigan a good game, as is
the case in most good rivalries, but
in the end, the Fighting Irish will
still need to find an offense in order
to beat the Wolverines tomorrow.
Michigan 24, Notre Dame 10


Depth key to Blue's
early season success

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By Dan Rosen
Daily Sports Writer
In her tenure as coach of the Michi-
gan women's soccer team, Debbie
Rademacher has never had as much
depth as she does this season.
When the ninth-ranked Wolverines

travel to the Nike Classic
this weekend for games
against Massachusetts and
Georgia, they will bring 17
players with them who
have played in each of the
team's first four games. Of
those 17, seven different
Michigan players have
already netted a goal this
season and 10 have tallied
at least an assist.

Who: Michigan
Georgia (1-3)
When: 5 p.m. t
noon Sunday
Latest: Michig
start the seas
the first time e

bench that are definitely going to learn
a lot and be huge contributors, if not in
the near future than in the future,"
Rademacher said.
Rademacher attributes much of the
freshmen's early development to the
team's more experienced players. She is
also quick to point out that the newcom-
ers still have plenty of
room to grow.
AM, ALA. "It certainly helps
when you have this kind
n (4-0) vs. of leadership and a lot of
s (4-3), upperclassmen to kind of
onight, show them the way,"
Rademacher said. "But
an looks to it's still early. I don't
on 6.0 for think the freshmen are
ver where they're going to be
at the end of the season. I
think they're going to be even further."
So far this season, the Wolverines'
extra talent has translated into an unde-
feated record and a top-10 ranking.
With a pair of wins this weekend,
Michigan can eclipse the team record
of five straight victories to open a sea-
son, set back in 1998.
To accomplish that, the Wolverines
will have to win one of their most diffi-
cult games of the season.


Unlike any other college course you can t k

"We can use a lot of players and we
feel pretty comfortable with that,"
Rademacher said. "We have players
on the bench who have played before
in big games."
One reason for the team's added
depth this season has been the early
contributions from the freshman class.
Last weekend, newcomers
Stephanie Boyles and Therese
Heaton each recorded their first


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