Steelers-Browns looms as Michigan-ND rivalry about to end

Everyone is already talking about the Cleveland Browns season opener next Sunday at 1 p.m. in Pittsburgh against the Steelers. The "Turnpike War," as it's called.

With 121 meetings and counting, it is the oldest and most storied rivalry in the American Football Conference, surpassing any other rivalry in the conference by at least 5 games.

Yes, the Browns open the season against their bitterest rivals, a rivalry that began the year I was born.

But others are looking at what will happen the day before, starting at 7:30 p.m. in South Bend in a game nationally televised by NBC. (Shameless plug)

That's when the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame will host Michigan, maybe for the last time for many years.

FoxSports headlined the game today, saying that rivalry "is about to go dormant again."

The series dates to 1887 when Michigan students traveled to South Bend to teach Notre Dame students the game. Ha.

Yes, there's the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry and the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry and isn't it interesting that Michigan figures in all three?

Back in 2007, Notre Dame and Michigan announced a series that was to run through 2031. But then something happened.

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said he was blindsided when Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick handed him a letter before the 2012 game, informing him Notre Dame was ending the series, according to FoxSports.

You see, Notre Dame had agreed to play five games a season against Atlantic Coast Conference teams when it joined the league in most other sports, while staying independent in football.

Noter Dame had to get some games off its schedule and the Michigan contract had an automatic rollover provision with a year being added each time a game was played.

And FoxSports also noted that It's not the first time the series was abruptly ended. In 1910, the year after Notre Dame beat the Wolverines for the first time, Michigan canceled the game the day before the game, claiming the Irish were using ineligible players.

Why, you ask? In part because of a feud between Knute Rockne and Fielding Yost, the two schools didn't play again until 1942, and then it only lasted two seasons. The series didn't resume again until 1978.

And don't forget what happened last year.

After the Wolverines beat the Irish 41-30 last season, Michigan played the ''Chicken Dance'' over the stadium sound system.

Know that Michigan has won six of the last eight games.

Here's my take.

I've lived in Ohio all my life but never have been and never will be a fan of Ohio State. (I couldn't stand Woody Hayes) I went to Notre Dame and always thought USC was our more hated rival, although Purdue came in a close second. My favorite team is Notre Dame, followed by Alabama, then the Florida State Seminoles (I DO love that arm-chop they do).

As far as the Browns, I bleed orange and brown. That being said, the Steelers are my second favorite NFL team, followed by whichever team has hired defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

Yes, I am an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, surrounded by mystery..some people like that, others don't.

Follow WKYC's Kim Wendel on Twitter @KimWendel


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