For years the Spartan faithful would tout their matchup with in-state rival Michigan as the biggest game of the season. Wolverines fans would then deflect the magnitude of the contest, saying there was a much bigger, more important game in the upcoming weeks against Ohio State.
It’s funny how times change.
Because as Michigan makes its final preparations for tomorrow, MSU can utter that annoying sentence–with a little bit of arrogance–that they have a bigger, more important matchup with the Buckeyes on November 8th.
The two programs have made the state of Michigan proud on a national scale over the last century. Combined, they garner 1,577 total victories (913 UM, 664 MSU), 17 national titles (11 UM, 6 MSU), 50 Big Ten Championships (42 UM, 8 MSU) and 109 All-Americans (78 UM, 31 MSU).
Here in the state of Michigan, for all college football fans, this is arguably, if nothing else, the most intriguing game they will watch all season.
It’s the Wolverines at the Spartans, 3:30 kickoff for state bragging rights.
Michigan State is in every way more dominant. Just look at the numbers–a 6-1 record, a No. 8 ranking nationally and scoring the third-most points per game of any team in the country (47.0). It has taken five of the previous six contests against the Maize and Blue, and the game will be played in East Lansing for the second consecutive season.
Look for the boys from Ann Arbor to play this one tough. They’ve been through a lot this season, struggling on the field and then having to face distractions off the field between games. They’re coming off of a close win against a solid opponent (Penn State at home, 18-13) as well as a bye week. They’ll be fresh and ready to go.
However, the Spartans are also seemingly coming off a bye week, thumping the Hoosiers by 39 points last week in Bloomington.
So who wins this game? We’re expecting a tight contest. Though it may not seem like it, both teams have a lot to prove. For Michigan, it’s to regain lost respect from its shaky 3-4 start to the season, and possibly save coach Brady Hoke’s job (and we mean POSSIBLY). For Michigan State, it’s to continue showing the nation that it is here to stay as an annual title contender.
We like to believe in both of these teams. If we were betting folks (which only happens at the Euchre table), we’d tell you to pick the Wolverines to cover the spread. That being said, the spread is favoring the Spartans by 17 points, so we still expect MSU to pull out a gritty victory at home–albeit by a slimmer margin than Vegas is predicting.
It’ll come down to one thing, in our minds: how will Devin Gardner handle the Spartan defensive pressure? If he finds a way to escape the pocket and remain poised, the Wolverines will have a shot. But if the Michigan offensive line surrenders seven sacks again this year, just like in 2013, the Green and White will once again hoist Mr. Paul Bunyan at midfield.