Let's just be honest, shall we?
Behind the perfectly appropriate facade of hospitality and mutual good-sportsmanship that will be on display (at least outside the stadium) is the undeniable fact that the two programs facing off on Saturday hate each other.
The rivalry dates back to 1887, when the Wolverines traveled to the small Catholic school to their south and taught them the relatively new game of football. For eight years Michigan was perfectly happy to play Notre Dame.
After all, the big state school to the north trounced the tiny upstart in South Bend. But then came 1902, when the Irish pulled an upset. Fueled by a toxic snit of wounded pride and anti-Catholicism, and displaying the class and sportsmanship that Michigan has been known for ever since in South Bend, the Wolverines not only immediately cancelled the series, but led a conference boycott of the Irish that lasted decades.
Finally, in the 1940s, Notre Dame and Michigan teed it up again.
True to form, when the Irish beat Michigan again in 1943, the Wolverines again refused to play ND. This second boycott lasted until 1978. Boo hoo.
If you use the metric of winning percentage, Michigan and Notre Dame are No. 1 and two respectively, and are separated by a fraction of a percentage point. The Irish surrendered the lead to the Wolverines under the inglorious reign of Ty Willingham. (Thanks, Ty.)
Any Domer who has attended games for decades can testify to the boorish behavior when our first, most natural enemy comes to town.
I'm sure Michigan fans can (and will) cite the reasons they hate the Irish. So be it.
Get your hate on, tee it up, and let's go at it.