Notre Dame and Michigan will settle their differences the old-fashioned way.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – Don’t look for a flea-flicker or fumblerooski when Notre Dame visits Michigan on Saturday.

The two winningest football teams in college football history tend to play the old-fashioned way, especially against each other.

And that’s the way the players want it.

“We’re both kind of smash-mouth teams,” Irish safety Glenn Earl said. “West Coast teams, Pac-10 teams like to spread you out, and use bubble screens and all that riffraff. Teams like them and us like to line up and just see who is tougher, who is the better man.”

The teams have been lining up off and on since a few Michigan students traveled to South Bend in 1887 to teach the game to Notre Dame students. Though they don’t play every year, the rivalry is as intense as any.

And with Michigan ranked No. 5, and Notre Dame No. 15, it’s the biggest game this weekend.

In other Top 25 games Saturday, it’s Fresno State at No. 1 Oklahoma; East Carolina at No. 2 Miami; No. 24 North Carolina State at No. 3 Ohio State; Hawaii at No. 4 USC; Arkansas at No. 6 Texas; Massachusetts at No. 7 Kansas State; No. 25 South Carolina at No. 8 Georgia; and Georgia Tech at No. 10 Florida State.

Also, it’s Ball State at No. 11 Pittsburgh; Western Illinois at No. 12 LSU; UNLV at No. 14 Wisconsin; Utah State at No. 16 Arizona State; Washington State at No. 17 Colorado; Penn State at No. 18 Nebraska; Florida A&M at No. 19 Florida; Purdue at No. 20 Wake Forest; and No. 23 Iowa at Iowa State.

Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said the rivalry is fueled by the fact that the two programs are so similar – offensively and defensively.

The rivalry is intense, but the teams have great regard for each other.

“I definitely respect their style of play,” Earl said. “I like playing them because you just roll up your sleeves and it’s kind of like a fist fight.”

The heavyweight matchup Saturday will pit the Wolverines’ offense and Notre Dame’s defense. Michigan (2-0) leads the nation in rushing at 367 yards a game and is second in total offense at 575.5 yards a game. The Irish (1-0) are 11th in the nation in run defense, holding Washington State to 55 yards in the opener.

“We are going to go out there and try to establish the running game,” Michigan left guard David Bass said. “If we do that, we will have a good chance to put some points on the board.”

The Irish, 10th in run defense last season, figure the Wolverines will run.

“We predicate ourselves on this defense stopping the run,” Irish tackle Darrell Campbell said. “We don’t want anyone to run on us. We stop the run, they have to pass, then we can let everything get loose and get a little swagger to us.”

Carr joked about how playing Central Michigan and Houston would help prepare the Wolverines for the Irish.

“In case Notre Dame comes out with a no-huddle offense we will be in shape,” Carr said with a grin. “I think that we are going to get back to a traditional style of Big Ten football.”

Tradition means a lot to both teams, which is why this game is so important.

“We just want to play the game the way it’s supposed to be played and make the people who wore this jersey before us proud of us,” Campbell said.

North Carolina State-Ohio State

The Wolfpack perhaps were looking ahead to this game when they lost to Wake Forest last weekend. The Buckeyes, who will play the entire season without suspended running back Maurice Clarett, hope to regroup after surviving a scare from San Diego State.

Ohio State’s defense will have its hands full trying to keep up with N.C. State’s quarterback, Philip Rivers, who is 64 of 79 for 753 yards in two games.

Penn State-Nebraska

The Cornhuskers are out to avenge a 40-7 loss last year at State College, a defeat that started Nebraska to a 7-7 season – its worst since 1961.

Under new defensive coordinator Bo Pelini, the Huskers have allowed just two TDs in winning their first two games. Jammal Lord could end up splitting time at quarterback with freshman Joe Dailey if he doesn’t perk up the offense. Penn State (1-1) is coming off a 27-14 home loss to Boston College.

“I definitely expect Nebraska to be prepared for us,” defensive tackle John Bronson said. “I know we’re a target on their schedule. They’re working pretty hard to get back at us for what we did to them.”


These former Southwest Conference rivals play their first regular-season game since Arkansas left for the SEC after the 1991 season. Both teams are 1-0.

“It’s good for these two programs,” former Texas quarterback James Street said. “It’s good for football.”

AP-ES-09-11-03 1739EDT

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