Michigan v. Michigan State – UM’s biggest rivalry

I heard on my radio dial yesterday that if you aren’t currently living in or had previously lived in the state of Michigan…then the Wolverines versus the Spartans annual football game is just another interstate rivalry game across this great country of ours.  And probably just like any one of those, you can say it’s the most intense game of the year….Pitt vs Penn State…Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State…Florida vs Florida State…I’m sure it’s all the same.

Roy Roundtree

The Wolverines are not lacking rivalries…that is a certainty.  They have their annual battle with Notre Dame…the trophy game with Minnesota where UM equipment manager Jon Falk gets the Little Brown Jug out of the display case in Schembechler Hall…dusts it off, puts it in the carrying case and he rolls it out onto the field behind the Michigan bench.  Once every 15 years or so, the Gophers get to take it back to Minneapolis for a year…but it quickly returns to Ann Arbor.  Shan’t we forget the season-ending battle with the Buckeyes…and although the Buckeyes have recently dominated the series, UM still holds a pretty sizable advantage in the overall series…it still is a big game.

Each rivalry game across the U.S. has spirit and great traditions and games that stand out for one reason or another….but this Michigan-Michigan State game…year in and year out, means the most to me as a Michigan fan.

But those losses to MSU just stay with me…I think there are a couple reasons.

The first and most annoying reason is the Spartan fans.  It isn’t that Spartan fans are annoying (yes it is) it’s the fact that they are everywhere.  They linger around at work….they infest family gatherings…they foul up regular grocery shopping trips…even this past Sunday as I was taking the family to a cider mill, there were even Spartan fans lined up outside liquor stores waiting for them to open.  I can’t go from point A to point B without seeing that little green “S” on a license plate or a tattered green car flag that looks like it has just come back from Baghdad flying by me on US-23.  To a point, I can understand why they are so excited…they have enjoyed a lot of success in recent years..so I have to give them their due.

The second reason….the losses linger like bad Mexican carryout…and this reason directly relates to the first reason.  The first loss I remember to MSU was in 1984..UM was 3-1 heading into this one and MSU was 1-3 having lost 3 straight.  The Spartans won that day in Ann Arbor 19-7 and I was crushed…I fully expected Michigan to win..because they had the better record…give me a break..I was 13.  I just couldn’t understand how a team that was 1-3 could go on the road and beat a team that had a much better record….and of course UM went on to have a horrible record 6-6.  The next loss was the last time MSU went to the Rose Bowl in 1987…MSU won that game 17-11 behind the running of Lorenzo White…the 2nd best HB I have ever seen in East Lansing.  Michigan also went on to have an un-Bo like 8-4 record losing to MSU,  Notre Dame, Ohio State and Indiana of all teams….but after that…it was mostly landmark losses earmarked by unforgettable experiences….the list follows;

1990- MSU 28-27…Desmond Howard tripped by an MSU DB…#21 still should’ve caught it, but the penalty wasn’t called.

1995- MSU 28-25…my first and last trip to the MSU press box…I had a press pass and if there is one thing you cannot do in a press box is cheer, root or even show support for one of the teams in the game you are reporting on…MSU was up big and all I saw were people like Tico Duckett walking by me high-fiving George Blaha and George Perles running back and forth from the buffet line cheering while choking down turkey leg after turkey leg.  Completely unprofessional.

1999- MSU 34-31…the Plaxico Burress game…Michigan couldn’t cover him at all..they even tried putting David Terrell, A WR on him…and they still only won by three…but I still hear about that game.

2001- MSU 26-24…TJ Duckett and the clock game…”Spartan Bob” was the reason the NCAA no longer allows the home team to provide clock operators…nope nothing wrong with that practice.

My point is this…MSU will let you know that they have beaten you….even if it is only 11 times in the last 40 games.  They currently trail the all-time series against Michigan 67-31-5…and they have strung together three straight wins in the series for the first time since the mid 1960’s.  It also happens to coincide with the worst 3 years of Michigan football ever in its 132 year history.  But don’t tell them that.  “It’s all about now…what have you done lately”  Well congratulations Spartan fans….keep hanging your hat on your three game winning streak and your shared Big Ten title that 20% of the conference also had last year.  If you want the Michigan fans and the nation to respect what you’ve done…here’s a list of things you may want to do before fans start rolling out the red carpet for you….

A)   Win big road games…consistently for a year or two.

B)   Win a big bowl game…not necessarily a BCS game..that would be asking too much.

C)   How about three straight winning seasons?…like 97 through 99 or better yet..88-90.

D)   Forget about Michigan…beat the Iowa’s or the Minnesota’s or the Purdue’s regularly.

These are just a couple of things that may or may not get your program on the road to respectability.  Ask Tom Izzo what to do…he’s done it…and that’s quite a program he’s established there…believe me….I’ve heard about that one too.

  • http://isportsweb.com Rob White

    MSU had a small window of opportunity in this series when RichRod was hired. They took advantage by out-recruiting Michigan instate and winning 3 straight in the series. I won’t be shocked if MSU wins a 4th straight this year, but their window has been slammed shut by the arrival of Hokeamania. He has taken back instate recruiting and Michigan has already made significant improvements under the new staff. 
    I fully believe that this season represents the end of MSU’s mini and pretty much unprecedented run of dominance in the series. 

  • http://twitter.com/isportsJoe Joe White

    Agreed. Michigan is back and everyone knows it. They might not be elite for 2-3 more years but it’s coming whether Sparty nation likes it or not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cpemberton1 Clay Pemberton

    WOW. This was about a paragraph or 2 of facts and then the rest was a series of jealous ramblings. No, Michigans not BACK. Play some real teams or a few road games and well see what happens. Good talk. 

    • http://twitter.com/isportsJoe Joe White

      Right on, Clay. Because State has done nothing but go toe-to-toe with power house schools. Thanks for reminding us…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Tankersley/1185394420 Chris Tankersley

    So much anger, Rob.  Were you shaken a lot as a baby.  Spartans are people too, and I don’t know any that carry this level of disdain for their beloved UofM bretheren.  So sad.

    • http://twitter.com/isportsJoe Joe White

      Riiiiiight. You’re all peace-loving brothas.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Tankersley/1185394420 Chris Tankersley

      Rob, I owe you a belated apology for this one.  I didn’t notice this was Snake’s article and not one of yours.  I should have known better, you’d never be so emotionally blinded as to draft a column as preposterous as this.
      Chad, you’re flat out of your mind.  Don’t even come at me with the ‘annoying fanbase’ attack.  Seldom has a more hypocritical line ever been laid down.  Spartan fans may piss you off on occasion; but it pales in comparison to the arrogance and entitlement exuded by the bandwagoners and hangers-on that comprise 90% of UofM’s fanbase.  It’s easy to adopt a colorful helmet and a winning percentage whose foundation was laid 30 years prior to the rest of world playing football and proclaim yourself a die-hard, but it takes character, a spine, and the ability to find East Lansing on a map to be a commited MSU fan.  You want proof?  On the off chance that UofM continues their fraudulent season this weekend, meet me at my office on Monday and lay witness to the barrage of cat-calls from every Michigan Tech, Albion, K-College, and Wayne State alum that supposedly bleeds neon and blue.  They’re the same jack-off’s that use the word ‘we’ when describing how the team played.  The whole seen is pathetic and embarrasing at best.

  • Berica

    I just want to say one thing – Michigan State isn’t Michigan’s biggest rival, Ohio State is. If you think otherwise, you’re not a true Wolverine. It’s a big game, but it’s definitely not the “biggest” of the year.

  • TrueSportsFan

    Wow.  My first time visiting this site, and the last.  What a childish, spiteful column, with absolutely nothing illuminating to offer.  

  • Belarose

    You are utterly ridiculous.  GO GREEN.  

  • Spartansdoitbetter

    To sum up the response I would have posted:
    “You’re arrogance offends me, and I continue to look forward to kicking your ass in sports and then rubbing it in your arrogant face.  See ya next year.”