It stands to reason the University of Michigan would have no qualms about bragging on itself.

Why be modest when you can be intimidating? It has an enormous fan base, the highest winning percentage in college football history and more conference titles than any team.

Not to mention a stadium the size of a country.

People love Michigan the way they love Starbucks or Microsoft. Whoever said bigger isn't better has never sat in Michigan Stadium on game day.

"They're steeped in tradition and history, and they have great resources," said Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham. "You name it, they've got it."

Thus, the Utes open their season Saturday at the stadium known as The Big House. You could literally put the combined populations of Liechtenstein and Andorra in it — and still have room for the marching band.

Michigan's normal 107,501 capacity is just bigger than Penn State's 107,282. Technically, Michigan dropped to No. 2 after reducing capacity to 106,201 during stadium renovations, which won't be finished for two years. But when the work is done, the House is expected to hold 108,000.

That should make room for one giant wave.

In any case, the stadium and its team merit serious bragging, and Michigan isn't above doing so. (Is anyone?) In the Wolverines' media guide this year, it anoints Michigan "the most decorated (program) in college history."

While that may be true, Notre Dame would beg to differ.

Don't you love it when the beautiful people bicker?

The two legendary football teams meet Sept. 13 at South Bend, which lends itself to the possibility the Wolverines might overlook the Utes this week. After all, they overlooked Appalachian State last year.

That's the thing about being Michigan. There are a lot of fish to fry. There are the big rivalries, like Michigan-Michigan State, Michigan-Minnesota and Michigan-Penn State, and then there are the otherworldly ones. The Ohio State-Michigan rivalry has been rated the best in sports by ESPN.com.

At the same time, there's the rivalry with Notre Dame. They are the winningest programs in college football history.

Michigan has the most wins (869) and highest percentage (0.745), while Notre Dame is second in both (823 wins, 0.739).

Picking between Michigan and Notre Dame is like deciding between double cheese and extra bacon.

There's not a wrong choice.

Michigan has drawn at least 100,000 fans to 208 consecutive games. Notre Dame has recorded 199 consecutive sellouts, but its capacity is a mere 80,795.

Michigan's media guide says the winged helmet is "the most recognizable symbol in college football," though Notre Dame could make an excellent case for its fabled gold helmet.

Michigan has had 157 straight televised games; Notre Dame has its own national TV contract.

Michigan has 11 national championships, Notre Dame 17.

Michigan has three Heisman winners, Notre Dame seven.

Michigan has been to 39 bowl games, Notre Dame 28.

Michigan has had 76 consensus All-Americans, Notre Dame 95.

According to its publicists, Michigan's maize and blue colors are "the most recognized colors in college history."

Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, USC, Alabama and others might disagree.

Michigan claims "Hail to the Victors" is "the (nation's) most recognizable fight song," yet Notre Dame's "Victory March," has been ranked No. 1 in a book on fight songs.

Anyone who has seen "Rudy" would have a hard time disagreeing with that.

So beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But any way you view it, Michigan is at or near the top. (Incidentally, Utah is scheduled to play at Notre Dame in 2010.)

That said, this is a good year for the Utes to play Michigan. The Wolverines are picked to finish in the middle of the Big Ten. Their offense is inexperienced. They have a new head coach.

Still, it is Michigan.

"It's a great opportunity for our players and coaches to go to the Big House," Whittingham said.

A win over either Notre Dame in 2010 or Michigan now would rank as the highest-profile regular season win in Utah's history.

That, too, would be grounds for bragging.


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