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End Zone: UM Wolverines

Downplaying UM-Notre Dame rivalry could be seen as sacrilege

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Declaring that the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry isn’t on a national scale is like saying the Sistine Chapel is merely a dandy watercolor on someone’s walls.

You wouldn’t get a lot of agreement on those two previous points, would you?

When Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly initially downplayed the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry, he was either holding the company line or looking at bigger and more historic pairings against Southern California and Navy. The Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry has been around since 1887 - yet only in its current iteration since 1978 - and people didn’t just take pause when Kelly offered an initial opinion on the rivalry. It became a national cause.

The church of college football has its noted saints and sinners. Such a statement could be seen as sacrilege. Kelly then called a reverse two days later and gave the rivalry what many believed is its proper due.

The rivalry has been intensified by television - pick your three- and four-letter networks - but Notre Dame chose to end the relationship, a move that came as part of the changing landscape in college football.

You can’t downplay history, or a rivalry that’s more than 125 years old between two of the nation’s five winningest programs. And the first of the last two meetings between the two programs will make the series that much more intriguing. Sort of like those paintings on the walls and ceiling of a Vatican City chapel.

Contact Rachel Lenzi at: rlenzi@theblade.com, 419-724-6510, or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.

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