September 5, 2014 at 1:00 am

Michigan-Notre Dame series rekindles great moments, and fuels bitter feelings

Michigan receiver and Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard made a memorable catch in the 1991 game against Notre Dame. (Detroit News photo archive)

Ann Arbor ó The Michigan-Notre Dame game means different things for different people.

For those on the outside, fans across the country, it is an early-season rivalry that frequently has dictated how the season has evolved for both teams. It is about the traditions and uniforms, helmets and colors, bands and stadiums.

For those who played and coached in the game, it has been something special and unique, and although the series is only 41 games old, with a long hiatus from 1943-78, it dates to 1887.

The programs have long been the two winningest in the country.

But on Saturday night at Notre Dame Stadium, Michigan and Notre Dame will play for the last time in the foreseeable future.

Until new memories are made, here are a few The Detroit News collected from those who have participated in the game.

Lloyd Carr, former Michigan coach

Favorite memory: I would have to say that the highlight that comes to mind came in the í97 game. We had a fourth down, we didnít want to punt the ball because you can have a punt blocked, have one returned, all that. So we had a fourth down and one or two yards, we lined up in a punt formation. We sent our offense in but with the punter and we lined up in a punt formation. (Quarterback Brian) Griese was there, and we lined up and shifted and ran the ball for a first down. In that game, I thought we took control of the game three or four times in the fourth quarter, but every time we got to where we felt we could put it away, we turned the ball over. That play sticks out. And Tommy Hendricks made a great interception down inside the Notre Dame goal line. That game, in retrospect, even thought we had not played like we wanted to, it was one of those games where we gained great confidence. We were down at the half, and Griese hit Tai Streets with a slant 41 yards for a touchdown and Chris Floyd ran in from about 14 yards, we had been down at the half 14-7, and the first two possessions of the third quarter, we scored touchdowns. That was a special game. But theyíre all special.

On the end of the series: There some people out there who say itís not a great rivalry, that weíve only played 41 times. If you talk about the history and the tradition of the game, the Michigan-Notre Dame game under every circumstance, there has been a history even when they didnít play. Finally, (Notre Dame athletic director) Moose Krause, (Michigan athletic director) Don Canham and Father (Edmund) Joyce, those men realized what that game could be. Bo (Schembechler) didnít want to play Notre Dame, either, but Iíll tell you one thing, when you line up to play or coach in that game, hey, thatís something really special. Even though Bo didnít make a big thing about it because of winning the Big Ten championship, he knew, I think, that the team was always going to get up for that game. He didnít have to make a big deal of it. I think who loses now is the fans and the players. Nationally, regardless of the people who poo-poo the game, itís a big game. Unfortunately, I think the conference realignment has dictated it, but I canít answer why Notre Dame has made these decisions. I think itís very fair to question who down there doesnít want to play us. To hear theyíve signed a home and home with Ohio State, I donít know what that statement is, but itís a statement.

Aaron Shea (1996-99)

Favorite memory: I would say winning in í97 ó that was a big game. I know what is not my favorite play from that game Ö when I fumbled. Even in í99 when we beat them in the Big House, that was big. There was a lot of passion and truly some hatred in those games. Thatís one thing you get a Michigan and Ohio State fan to agree on ó Notre Dame has a sense of arrogance. They think theyíre better than everyone else. The one funny thing from that rivalry, Tom Brady was coming back from somewhere and he knew we were playing at Notre Dame in 1998 but he had never been there. He said he wanted to check Notre Dameís stadium out. He walked in and looked around, he went to get out and the gates were closed on him. He thought, ĎWatch, Iím going to get arrested for trespassing.í He had to climb the fence to get out of there, and he imagined the headlines being: ĎMichigan quarterback breaks into Notre Dame Stadium.í

On the end of the series: Itís a shame thatís going away. Even talking to Notre Dame guys I know, they got up for this game. For (Notre Dame coach) Brian Kelly to say itís regional Ö itís clearly a national rivalry. Theyíre going to play Ohio State (in 2022 and 2023), and thatís a big slap in our face. They did that on purpose ó ĎWe got rid of Michigan, and now weíre playing Ohio State.í If I were Michigan, Iíd call USC and instead of doing a two-year (agreement), Iíd make it 10 years. It hurts both alumni groups. We recruit the same area, and itís a shame, but thatís Notre Dame. Thatís why we have to win. This is a big game for a bunch of reasons. This has to be the team to win the last game in their house. My only regret is I canít play in that game.

Mike Hart (2004-07)

Favorite memory: When they had their whole team coming back and Brady Quinn was their quarterback my junior year (2006). We went into their stadium and destroyed them (47-21).

On the end of the series: I think itís disappointing from the standpoint itís two of the richest traditions in college football. For it to end the way it did is sad. Itís the one game everyone around the country looks forward to watching. Everyone know Michigan-Notre Dame.

Roy Roundtree (2009-12)

Favorite memory: Thatís my favorite moment still to this day (the winning catch with two seconds left from Denard Robinson in 2011). This week, my Twitter has been going insane. We can remember (former Michigan Heisman Trophy winner) Desmond Howard coming into the locker room and telling us that someone is going to make that big play. We went into halftime and weíre like, ĎMan, this is not Michigan football.í I remember it like yesterday. I watch it on Big Ten Network, and I caught that ball. I made history. It was a great comeback. So electric. All that maize. Night game.

On the end of the series: Iím very sad about it. Itís Michigan and Notre Dame. Thatís like one of the biggest rivalries in the country every year. Now we have to find someone else to become rivals with. Everyone looked forward to that game every year. Thatís one of the three biggest rivals at Michigan. Every player at Michigan looks forward to that game. Thatís why I think itís going to be special Saturday. Thatís why Iím going to be at the game. Out of all the games, I have to make this one because itís the last one. The winner gets the bragging rights, and I know for sure that our players and Coach (Brady) Hoke are going to execute. Last time we were at Notre Dame, we didnít do too well. That will stick with them. Devin (Gardner) is the leader. Heís confident.

Doug Skene (1989-92)

Favorite memory: My most vivid memory is Desmond (Howardís) catch (in 1991). That was an incredible play. That 4th and 1, we had a dive play called, and they stacked the box. Elvis (Grbac) checked out of it. The check was supposed to be a quick little throw ó it wasnít supposed to go to the back corner of the end zone. We saw the ball go over our heads and thought, ĎOh, boy, great,í and then Desmond made the catch, and we said, ĎOh my God! Did you see that?í That was the same game when (center Steve) Everittís face was broken in half. We scored on that play. I was on that special teams field-goal play, and I run out and he rolls over and his mouth is full of blood. Itís pouring out. I turned to the sideline and started waving for help like I was waving a 747 into the gate. That was the nastiest thing Iíve ever seen. He went out to block a linebacker, Everitt had the angle on the linebacker, was squaring him up and at the last second the linebacker dipped his head and his helmet caught his jaw bone and buckled it. When we got to the hospital, he had his mouth wired shut and was sitting up with bandages around his head like a mummy. He couldnít talk, and as soon as we realized this, we started making him laugh.

On the end of the series: The reality is, their chicken (blank) (blank) quit on the thing. Thatís what they did. They walked away, handing (Michigan athletic director) Dave (Brandon) a letter and saying, ĎBy the way, Dave, I need you to read this,í (and ending the series). It looks bad for them, all-mighty Notre Dame walking away from a relationship thatís not going their way. I really dislike Notre Dame and I always will. All my buddies who are Spartan fans feel the same way. Not only will I be rooting for Ohio State (in 2022 and 2023), but I will always root for Michigan State against them. I hope they lose in every sport they play. Forever. You either love Notre Dame or youíre with the rest of college football and you hate Notre Dame.

Jamie Morris (1984-87)

Favorite memory: Going there playing them in í86. We were highly ranked (No. 3), and they brought in the new coach, Lou Holtz. They played us straight up to the point they almost beat us (Michigan won 24-23). You saw that Lou Holtz was going to be a major factor in the next couple of years of Notre Dame football.

On the end of the series: Yeah, I care. Look, these two teams are nationally recognized programs that they did it their own way. The universities or the athletic departments through history didnít like each other, but they understood it took both to make it work. When (Michigan athletic director) Don Canham renewed the rivalry, they understood what they were doing. They gave America what they wanted. Now, through what I donít understand, itís being taken away again. In this day and time itís foolish to not continue this rivalry. For the ones who say it wasnít a rivalry, they donít know college football. Both sides find out where they are early in the season, what adjustments have to be made. This game hinged on whether youíre going to have a great season or a good season. Itís a barometer. And itís a barometer on college football itself. When you take away rivalries like this, youíre taking a little bit of college football. Itís ridiculous. If you canít work things out itís a problem.

achengelis@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/chengelis

Michigan at Notre Dame

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana

TV/radio: NBC/WWJ

Line: Notre Dame by 4

Records: Michigan 1-0, No. 17 Notre Dame 1-0

Series: Michigan leads 24-16-1 (Michigan 41-30, Sept. 7, 2013)