IRISH EYES SMILING, UNTIL U-M PAYS VISIT

If today were 100 years ago, we would have duels wherever you looked, people turning their backs, walking 10 paces and shooting each other. One would wear maize ‘n’ blue, the other blue and gold. Of course, the maize and blue would be better shots . . .

OK. I say that because I live here. And here is Michigan. No doubt, at this very moment, some columnist in South Bend is writing a crack aboutU-M, assuming he has learned how to write.

Oops. There I go again. You just can’t help it at this time of year, Apocalypse Kickoff, or Michigan-Notre Dame weekend. People don’t come by car to this game, they get blasted out of cannons. They don’t root, they salivate. They don’t want to beat the opponent, they want his body parts hung on a string like salamis in an Italian deli.

At other times of the year, you can barely tell the Michigan and Notre Dame fans apart. They might even be working side by side in the same office, without exchanging blows.

But this weekend, stand back. They make the Hatfields and McCoys look like Siegfried & Roy.

After extensive study into the two creatures, I have unearthed the following data. Here are definitive ways to tell the two apart:
* Notre Dame fans brag about the quarterbacks they’ve sent to the NFL.
* Michigan fans brag about the linemen they’ve sent to the NFL.
* Michigan fans think coaching and screaming are the same thing.
* Notre Dame fans think coaching and whining are the same thing.
* Notre Dame fans say “Rocket Ismail” and swoon.
* Michigan fans say “Rocket Ismail” and throw up.
* Michigan tells recruits if they choose Michigan, it’ll be like heaven.
* Notre Dame tells recruits if they choose Notre Dame, they’ll go to heaven.
* Notre Dame fans say Faust never existed.
* Michigan fans say Gerry Faust was a vastly underrated coach who should have been given a lifetime contract.
* Notre Dame fans think “Rudy” should have won the Oscar for best picture.
* Michigan fans think Rudy was a wimp.
* Notre Dame fans think this leprechaun mascot is absolutely brilliant.
* Michigan fans think he looks like Dom DeLuise with a pipe.

* Notre Dame fans root for the Boston Celtics.
* Michigan fans don’t root for an NBA club, because they actually have a good college basketball team.

* On cold nights, Notre Dame fans rent “Knute Rockne, All American” and replay the famous hospital bed speech.
* On cold nights, Michigan fans rent “The Big Chill” and replay the part where Jeff Goldblum turns on the television and the Wolverines are playing.

* Notre Dame fans think 59,000 is a sellout.
* Michigan fans think 59,000 is spring practice.

* Michigan fans think Touchdown Jesus is just a big painting on a building.
* Notre Dame fans think Touchdown Jesus knows the spread.

* In public, Michigan fans say a running game is the true measure of a team.
* In public, Notre Dame fans say a passing game is the true measure of a team.

* In private, Michigan fans want to pass.
* In private, Notre Dame fans want to run.

* Michigan fans begin their prayers, “Our father, who art in heaven” . . .
* Notre Dame fans begins their prayers, “OK, Big Daddy, do we kick or receive?”

* Michigan fans think Ann Arbor is the cultural center of the universe, and South Bend is a pit.
* Notre Dame fans have no comeback for that one.

* Notre Dame fans think the Wolverine is a stupid, rabid animal that nobody has ever seen.
* Michigan fans think the Irish potato famine was a publicity stunt.

* Notre Dame fans think Bo Schembechler’s temper tantrums were rude and inappropriate.
* Michigan fans can’t understand how one state can allow Lou Holtz and Bobby Knight.

* Michigan fans think Notre Dame fans are holier-than-thou.
* Notre Dame fans say, “We forgive you, child.”

We could go on and on. But you get the point. The lines are drawn. Kickoff is just a moon away. And come Saturday night, one group will be very happy, and one group will be very upset.

If Michigan wins, I trust Notre Dame fans will realize it’s only a game, and there are many more games this season.

And if Michigan loses, somebody dies.

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