One is the most most-victorious program in college history, instantly identifiable by its helmets. The other is rooted in redness and the remnants of an unstoppable option attack.
Most weekends that kind of pairing would prompt an ESPN manpower movement called "Occupy Lincoln."
Michigan won its 900th game last week, more than any school on pigskin record. This week the school is … playing when and on what channel?
Unfortunately, two-loss Michigan and negligibly noticeable Nebraska picked the wrong day to share the Gregorian calendar with Notre Dame at Oklahoma.
There is nothing more intoxicating, this late, than the smell of top-10 Notre Dame in the air.
The Fighting Irish might be everything you think: relatively untested, overrated and over-publicized.
Guess what: the day of reckoning is upon us. Playing at Oklahoma on Saturday marks Notre Dame's most important stage appearance in a decade.
The Irish didn't handle it well in 2002, when they started 8-0 after a huge win at Florida State and then decided it would be a good idea to break out green jerseys for Boston College.
Notre Dame lost three of its last five and first-year coach Tyrone Willingham never survived to be a fourth-year coach.
The truth is Notre Dame, as it stands, cannot yet be anointed or even trusted. The Irish are vastly improved under third-year Coach Brian Kelly but have been living on defense and close calls. Notre Dame has won four games by seven points or fewer and had to rally from deficits to win its last two games.
It hasn't ventured outside the greater Chicago area since Sept. 15.
"We haven't really played in a hostile environment since Michigan State," star linebacker Manti Te'o said of Notre Dame's last true "road" test.
Winning at Oklahoma would not just be a game changer — it would be a program changer.
This is because most rational people don't think Notre Dame can pull it off. Notre Dame is 7-0 and ranked No. 5, yet oddsmakers favor one-loss Oklahoma by almost two touchdowns.
Oklahoma is 79-4 at home under Coach Bob Stoops and never mind that one of those losses was this year to Kansas State. The Sooners, since that defeat, have destroyed Texas Tech, Texas and Kansas.
Quarterback Landry Jones, who dropped out of Heisman Trophy contention after the Kansas State debacle, has recovered in his last three games to complete 62.3% of his passes for 888 yards and seven touchdowns.
"I'm a lot different now," Jones said.
Old-timers in tweed jackets will look to the history of these two great programs and count up all the national titles and Heisman winners. Notre Dame and Oklahoma have been ranked No. 1 more than any two programs in history and are responsible for four of the 12 college football dynasties recognized by the NCAA.
People older than 50 probably appreciate this more or, as Jones noted, "I should probably read up on the history a little bit."
Jones would find, oddly, that Oklahoma has been on the wrong side of it. Notre Dame leads the all-time series, 8-1. The Irish's last Norman Invasion was 1966, when Ara Parseghian's team blasted Oklahoma, 38-0, on its way to the national title.
Is there such a thing as one team holding a "hex" over another team?
Oklahoma owned the 1950s under Bud Wilkinson, yet it was Notre Dame that handed the Sooners bookend losses around their record 47-game winning streak.
Notre Dame will be trying to replicate the spirit of the 1957 game in Norman that ended one of sport's greatest team accomplishments. Oklahoma was favored by 19 points that day.
"Nobody gave us a chance," former Irish player Ed Sullivan recalled in Steve Delsohn's book "Talking Irish — the Oral History of Notre Dame Football."
Oklahoma made the cover of Sports Illustrated that week, perhaps prompting the first "SI cover jinx" failure.
After Notre Dame won, 7-0, Sullivan recalled Oklahoma fans were so shocked that they stayed in their seats for 20 minutes. "Man," he said, "was that fantastic."
If Notre Dame can keep Oklahoma in its seats Saturday, it would truly set the Irish on a championship course. Barring another foolish unveiling of green jerseys — which only inspired Boston College in 2002 — Notre Dame would realistically be 11-0 entering its regular-season-ending showdown at USC.
After Oklahoma, the Irish face Pittsburgh (3-4), Boston College (1-6) and Wake Forest (4-4).
"This is why you coach at Notre Dame," Kelly said.
And why, if you win enough of these marquee matchups, they let you keep coaching.