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Is being favored a good thing?

Sep 10, 2009, 2:00 PM EDT

The Wall Street Journal took the time to talk about how the unexpected has always seemingly conquered in the Notre Dame-Michigan series. I’m not sure if this makes me feel better or worse about the Irish being a three-point favorite on Saturday, as I thought the line would be closer to a touchdown for the Irish.

One of the most unpredictable rivalries in college football is Notre
Dame-Michigan. It’s so unpredictable it’s actually predictable: Expect
the favorite to struggle. Over the last 20 matchups, the favorite in
the Notre Dame-Michigan game is 8-11-1. Against the point spread, the
favorite is 3-17, meaning it failed to win by the margin set by Las
Vegas oddsmakers almost every time. By contrast, the favorite in the
Florida-Florida State game has won 16 of the last 20, covering the
spread 14 times.

The Journal points the finger mostly at Michigan, since they have been favored in 14 of the last 20 games against Notre Dame. (That’s an incredible stat…)

Just for fun, here’s to looking back at the last ten years of games, with some quick thoughts on what happened.

2008: ND 35, UM 17: The Irish jumped on Michigan early, but the game got a little too close for comfort, until six Wolverines turnovers finally killed the Maize and blue.

2007: UM 38, ND 0: A dirty, dirty, dirty shellacking. Not much else to say.

2006: UM 47, ND 21: An especially bitter pill to swallow. We made an epic 283-mile dash to the Mandalay sportsbook for an epic day of football games. The opening series said it all: Quinn incomplete to Samardzija. Quinn pick six by Prescott Burgess… Away we go. The taunting from the bachelor party dressed in matching Michigan jerseys was enough to make you wish that beer bottle throwing was an Olympic sport.

2005: ND 17, UM 10: Pure joy. This was one of those games where you had that sneaking suspicion the boys could pull it off, and Michigan fans never even saw it coming. I can still picture the look on my Michigan buddy as he was nearly in tears after Chad Henne fumbled the ball away on the ND one-yard-line.

2004: ND 28, UM 20: After getting shocked by BYU 20-17, the Irish once again upset Michigan. Then coach Ty Willingham uttered a bizarre line when he admitted that many people expected his team to start 1-1, they just had the games backwards.

2003: UM 38, ND 0: Ugh, ugh, ugh. The first of the 38-0 defeats. Wasn’t one enough?

2002: ND 25, UM 23: Another huge knockoff win for the Irish. Remember how good Shane Walton was? That team had some black magic voodoo going…

1999: UM 26, ND 22: A year after shocking the defending National Champs, the Irish lost to some a heartbreaker to a young skinny punk named Tom Brady, who was fighting to keep his job against Drew Henson. (Leave it to Michigan to almost screw up Tom Brady…) The Irish still could’ve won this one if they handled their timeouts better. 

  1. Terry from Maine - Sep 11, 2009 at 6:46 AM

    I wonder what kind of bet Brady and Weis have this year. It’s usually a pretty good bet.

  2. Ryan from Indiana - Sep 11, 2009 at 12:29 PM

    Willingham’s comment is even more proof that the guy was a dingle-berry and should have had the opportunity to coach the Irish.

  3. bob rocklin - Sep 11, 2009 at 3:59 PM

    Indeed – expect the unexpected – ND beat UM in an off year – this year they are 2-3X better in every facet of the game – Irish to shock as UM players read the headlines about how bad of a team Nevada happens to be ( which is way off base ) Irish 41 UM 17 with the O , special teams and D scoring at will on Big Blue.

  4. robertg - Sep 12, 2009 at 6:13 AM

    1. yes, both notre dame and michigan are teams on the rise.
    2. the differences are where the 2 teams are located on their rises.
    3. although the same issues arise across the board at every offensive and defensive position, the key example is at qb.
    4. in 2007, notre dame visited the big house with a lot of young and extremely talented, but inexperienced players, including qb jimmy clausen, the no 1 qb and the no 1 overall player in the recruiting class of 2007.2 years later, jimmy and his teammates are fully matured with depth of talent at every offensive and defensive position.
    5. a talented, but very inexperienced, notre dame team faced a veteran and talented michigan team and notre dame and qb jimmy clausen and his notre dame teammates got slaughtered.
    6. in 2009, michigan has great young talent everywhere, but, except for a few positions, very little game experience.
    7. for the wild card in this game, you can find the most recent example in the 2006 notre dame michigan game played at notre dame.
    8. michigan showed up with a crooked big 10 ref crew headed by the infamous dennis lipski who proceeded to win the game for michigan by calling notre dame for penaties that were not committed whenever notre dame had the ball and by allowing the michigan players to commit every blatant penalty they wished to without calling any of those penalties. on paper, michigan won the 2006 game in the same manner that, on paper, usc won the 2005 notre dame/usc game with the assistance of a crooked pac 10 ref crew.
    9.charlie weis does film breakdowns of penalties called and not called at every notre dame game.
    10. charlie sent the film breakdown to dave parry, who was then theoretically the big 10 conference official in charge of football reffing quality control.
    11. since parry’s response was his basic screw you response that he had been giving to coaches whose teams had been screwed by lipski and other dishonest big 10 officials for many years, notre dame terminated its decades old arrangement with the big 10 conference to supply ref crews for notre dame’s away games and substituted officials from the big east conference, the conference in which notre dame plays almost every other sport, except for football.
    12. the officiating crew at the notre dame/ michigan game will be an honest big east crew, unless someone has paid them off.
    13. with the wild card out of the deck, this young and inexperienced, but very talented, michigan team can look foward to an experience similar to the 2007 game at the big house, with some well deserved payback helping the michigan players out in their maturation process, just as michigan helped out jimmy clausen and his teammates in 2007.
    14. while anything can happen in any college football game with honest officiating, the chances of a very convincing shutout of michigan by notre dame with a score of around 49-0 is about right.
    15. this is the 100th anniversary of notre dame’s 1st win over michigan in a game that was played in the big house in 2009.
    16. after that notre dame win, michigan refused to play notre dame again for 33 years.
    17. we sincerely hope that notre dame’s victory at the big house does not result in another 33 year hiatus since this michigan team is defintely on the rise, but still a few years behind notre dame and with a coach who simply has zero understanding of michigan alums, including the power elite who make hiring and firing decisions in michigan football matters.
    18. michigan really wanted michigan grad and current lsu coach les miles.
    19. if les miles becomes available, color rodriguez gone, but not without a ton of money.
    20. despite what some press pundits have been saying and writing for years, charlie weis is at notre dame to stay no matter how long it takes to get notre dame back in the national title hunt with honesty and integrity, without compromising notre dame’s very high asdmission and character standards, and without getting into the sewers and cheating like usc aka the university for spoiled rich kids and dumb jocks, the university of south central, the los angeles slum are where the usc campus is located, and/or the university for steroids and cheaters.
    21. win or lose, we will always love notre dame more for the honesty and integrity with which notre dame runs its football program than for the wins and national titles which we like, but not at the cost of getting into the sewers with petey and mikey and usc and the other schools which have elected to cheat just to win.
    22. notre dame’s student athletes who also happen to play football or other sports all graduate from notre dame with real marketable skills which come in very handy when they do get to the nfl, have the academic skills necessary to avoid being ripped of by crooked nfl agents and money managers, the academic skills necessary to get great jobs if the nfl does not work out, and the academic skills necessary to have extremely profitable busineess careers after the nfl is over. notre dame students who also play football or other college sports live in the same forms as other notre dame students, not in any athlete only ultra fancy dorms. every notre dame student athlete has to take the same courses as every other notre dame student, including the dreaded by some required 1st year calculus.
    23. petey loves to show usc recruits and their families pictures of the usc recruits who have hauled in large nfl contracts and, while petey will never put such a thing in writing, he conveys the impression that making big money in the nfl is guaranteed if the recruit commits to play football at usc.
    24. the pictures that petey and dishonest coaches like petey does not show to recruits and their families are the numerous pictures of usc 4 and 5 star commits who fell for petey’s con and ended up at usc playing full time football and leaving without any degree or any marketable skills.
    25. for a long list of these 4 and 5 star recruits who left usc with no nfl contracts and no degrees in anything(usc graduates around 50% or its football recruits, as opposed to notre dame’s more than 90%), any member of the public can trace the usc commits who left usc with no nfl contracts and no marketable skills all the way back to the recruiting year 2002 at rivals or scout.
    26. petey also gives recruits and their families the clear impression that bushgate and the other usc cheating scandals are dead and gone.
    27. well, every recruit and their families can check online under california court of appeals 4th district, div one, and enter the name bush reginald in the casse status section and will find that bush’s bogus appeal, which were calculated to buy time to purchase the silences of lake and michaels and their families have been fully briefed and are ready for decision, which will reject bush’s completely frivolous appeal and send the case back to the san diego superior court for a very expedited and very public jury trial.
    28. for various reasons, lake and his family have shown no signs of accepting any of reggie’s increasingly large settlement offers to buy silence.
    29. petey and mikey and reggie and many current and former members of the usc athletic department and many former and current usc full time football players, along with certain ncaa and pac 10 conference officials will be called as witnesses and have to produce all documents, whether in paper format or stored on harddrives, including all bank and telephone records.
    30. the courts in san diego do not grant continuances for coaches or for players just because they are in the middle of a football season.
    we hope that everyone enjoys the 2009 notre dame/ michigan game and watching nthe buckeyes beat usc.

  5. Joe - Sep 12, 2009 at 10:04 AM

    Robertg: What an intellectual and informative post. It’s a shame ND has to play the likes of those scum. But it just puts more of a shine on ND when she beats them. Go Irish!

  6. i can read - Sep 12, 2009 at 10:46 AM

    You ND fans are a lot like your team: more smoke and puffery than fire and substance. You act like you even have a distinguished record anywhere outside of your own fantasy worlds. At least Michigan was once a great program.

  7. DugoutNut - Sep 12, 2009 at 11:28 AM

    UM, well, ok… Lemme see here…..
    Notre Dame has won how many bowl games in the last 10 years?
    ND has lost to USC how many times in the past 7 years?
    ND has lost those games by how many points during that time?
    The nonsensical post with the “Petey” facts really reeks of sour grapes and poor sportsmanship.
    USC is a power because Pete Carroll is a charismatic, calm, intelligent coach who hardly raises his voice and is always smiling. The starting QB for the KC Chiefs barely threw a pass in 4 years at USC, yet was drafted by the NE Patriots.
    ND has a coach, Weis, who tells everyone how great he is, can’t win a big game (or hardly any game) and after he loses to Michigan today and USC next month, will be looking for a job in the NFL while ND tries to rebuild and find a name coach who won’t take the job.
    Notre Dame fans are in the arrogant bucket as Yankee fans and Dallas Cowboy fans. Puffery was a very generous comment from I Can Read.

  8. john - Sep 12, 2009 at 11:37 AM

    ND fans–treat the UM fans with the same respect that you extended to the Nevada folks (it received good press). Let’s see if UM provides friendly but spirited hospitality or ….

  9. tomcj - Sep 12, 2009 at 11:50 AM

    Typical narcissistic ND moron. May I suggest:

  10. john - Sep 12, 2009 at 12:08 PM

    Pete Carroll is definitely a very good coach. While I am an ND grad, I do enjoy the rivalry, and think it is good for college football. Of course I hope ND prevails against USC and UM, but recognize that there are other good teams and good fans elsewhere. As for the arrogance comment, I as other “Domers” truly feel part of a special family. Maybe you and others see it as arrogance. I won’t apologize for my devotion and love for the university, which is borne partially from the religious aspect of the educational process there. The connection and love between all Domers is very strong and will not wilt simply because others disparage it. Let’s get back to football rather than name calling.

  11. Schuby - Sep 12, 2009 at 12:29 PM

    Man you are wordy…..shut up and play football!

  12. martyks - Sep 12, 2009 at 1:05 PM

    Well, wordy is one word for it. Maybe getting a life would help. I’m an ND fan, and it is obvious that we have been cheated out of many many games out at USC. It goes without saying. From 1964’s holding call on a fullback dive scoring play which would have opened up a 24-0 lead… to the infamous “incomplete” pass on a ball stripped out of Mac’s hand… it’s always been a part of football. What we have to do is be so much better that we cannot be cheated out of those games. Go Irish!

  13. 2late2matter - Sep 12, 2009 at 1:44 PM

    robertg appears to have a real issue with that nebulous area in college football called “fairness in officiating.” Sounds like ND does alot of shopping for its referees. Interesting psychology!

  14. Mark C - Sep 12, 2009 at 2:13 PM

    *** You act like you even have a distinguished record anywhere outside of your own fantasy worlds. At least Michigan was once a great program. ***
    I’m no ND fan, but you sir are an ignoramus.
    8 national championships (up to 13 depending on who is counting), 7 Heisman winners, 96 All-Americans, 102 winning seasons out of 120, 2nd highest winning percentage in history, 12 undefeated and untied seasons and 10 with only one loss or tie, 48 players and coaches in the college hall of fame…

  15. Blueblood - Sep 12, 2009 at 2:19 PM

    Fans from any team can be called arrogant. That being said ND fans are like any other, proud of their team, as they should be. Michigan fans are no different. We love our team.
    I look forward to another great performance by both squads, and feel better about this year than last.
    Good luck to the Irish though I hope better for UM.
    . . .robertg, you need to find a girlfriend or someone to hang out with. A three point post is 10x better than 30 in more ways than one. Maybe that’s why you don’t have a girl. You’re too long-winded.

  16. habs001 - Sep 12, 2009 at 7:30 PM


  17. DugoutNut - Sep 13, 2009 at 12:06 AM

    So, RobertG, what have you got to say now. Weis blew it. Carroll won it with a FRESHMAN QB. ND got beat by a FRESHMAN QB. I believe I could out coach Weis on game day and not have to tell the whole world how great I am. Weis is wonderful coordinator. No doubt about it. But he sucks big time as a head coach. In over his head, cracks under pressure and can’t manage a clock to save his life.
    Read your entire whole post. Three minutes of my life I won’t get back.

  18. DugoutNut - Sep 13, 2009 at 12:12 AM

    Finally, a fan who gets it. My comment was not aimed at you or other grads. It was aimed at those few who don’t seem to get that the COMPETITION is the thing. I love all the rivalries. Texas/Oklahoma; Florida/Florida St/Miami; Michigan/Ohio St; etc….. I don’t enjoy fans who make excuse, unfounded arguments, etc…
    My apology to you, sir. I did not meant offend.

  19. college degree statistics - Jan 18, 2010 at 2:01 PM

    I am taking a college degree in accounting. I am completely uninterested. I am consideing a college degree in geology. Is the switch easy?

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