Sept. 11, 2003
By Adam Porcelli
The Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry is one if the greatest in college football. The 14th-ranked Irish and seventh-ranked Wolverines will take the field against one another for the 31st time in Ann Arbor on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.(EDT). Michigan leads the all-time series 17-12-1, but the series is tied since the turn of the 20th-century (12-12-1).
The team’s have played several memorable games in recent years and no one on the Notre Dame coaching staff has been apart of more of those games than Irish defensive line coach Greg Mattison. Mattison, now in his seventh season with Notre Dame, was a member of the Michigan coaching staff for five years (1992-96) before joining the Irish in 1997. Coach Mattison understands the tradition surrounding this famed rivalry.
“Obviously, it is a huge game when these teams meet,” Mattison said.
“These are two great programs with great traditions. Both teams put everything on the line to win this game. The team’s leave it all on the field and that is what really makes the game such a great one.”
Notre Dame (1-0) and Michigan (2-0) both enter this weekend’s game undefeated, but players on both teams do not need any extra incentive to be ready for the game. According to Mattison, there is automatically a sense of excitement and eagerness to play in Saturday’s game.
“Anytime you have big-time players, like we have a lot of at Notre Dame, they are going to get up for a big rivalry game,” the Irish coach said.
“Players at programs like Michigan and Notre Dame automatically will play with a sense of urgency in a special game. Knowing the importance of a game like this, the players will play with a greater sense of urgency and a feeling that they have to do everything right.”
Even with all the excitement and importance surrounding Saturday’s game, Mattison is focused on what the team needs to do in order to come away with a road victory against Michigan.
“The key will be for us is to stop the run on Saturday and not give up any big plays,” Mattison said.
“We are going to have to swarm tackle them and do what it takes to stop their running game. If we do that, we will be alright.”