The University of Michigan will host Michigan State football on Oct. 20 at their home stadium in Ann Arbor, marking the 105th meeting between these two rivals. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network. Kick off is set for 3:30pm.
The Wolverines will be showing up strong, coming off their past two wins against Purdue and Illinois in the Big Ten season, while MSU suffered a tough loss last week against Iowa. The Spartans are now 4-3 with a record of 1-2 in the Big Ten and the no. 23 Michigan stands ahead of the Spartans at 4-2 and 2-0 in the conference. However, the Spartans have won the past four meetings against Michigan, including two in the Big House. MSU coach Mark Dantonio has a record of 4-1 against the Wolverines, as well as being undefeated on the enemy’s turf. On the other hand, Brady Hoke has yet to beat the Spartans while being the head coach of Michigan. As Hoke fights for his first win, the team strives for their first home victory over MSU since Oct. 7, 2006.
Not only does the winning team get bragging rights for the year, but starting in 1953, the winner of this intense rivalry also receives the Paul Bunyan trophy. Michigan leads the overall series at 67-32-5, but leads 34-23-2 for the trophy because the tradition did not begin until Michigan State was inducted into the Big Ten.
For Saturday’s game, Michigan State has selected former MSU offensive guard, Joel Foreman, as honorary game captain. Last year, Foreman earned first-team All-Big Ten honors and was a member of the winningest senior class in Spartan history with 37 victories and helped lead MSU to a 4-0 record against Michigan in his career. The 2011 class was the first to defeat the Wolverines four-straight years since 1959-62. Foreman will address the team during the pre-game and join the 2012 captains at midfield for the coin toss.
At their last meeting in Ann Arbor on Oct. 9, 2010, No. 17 Michigan State trailed No. 18 Michigan at the half. However, the Spartans came back strong, beating Michigan for the third year in a row, just weeks after Mark Dantonio’s terrifying heart attack. Denard Robinson was 17 of 29 for 215 yards and accounted for two touchdowns, though he made many costly turnovers. On the other hand, Michigan State’s offense was a firecracker with 284 passing yards and 294 rushing yards, giving Michigan’s defense a lot of problems. The Spartans ended the game with a lead of 34-17.
Last year on Oct. 15, 2011, the two teams battled it out again at Spartan Stadium. No. 23 Michigan State was ranked below Michigan, who was at No. 11, but this game is proof that rankings cannot determine game outcomes. Michigan, behind by one touchdown late in the fourth quarter, had a chance to tie up the game. However, after series of sacks, Michigan State’s Isaiah Lewis intercepted Robinson’s pass for a touchdown bringing the final score to 28-14. Sporting their green and bronze Nike Pro Combat uniforms, this big win for the Spartans tied their record for the longest consecutive wins against Michigan at 4. Kirk Cousins, a fifth-year senior, is the first Michigan State starting quarterback in history to win three straight over Michigan.
This year, both teams have had struggles throughout the season, but should expect a tough game from each other. Michigan, ranked No. 23, is expected to bring in the yards with their key player, Denard Robinson. The Wolverines have looked to him to run the ball all year, which has been pretty successful. The unranked Spartans have to be ready for Michigan’s various defensive tactics and look for them to put tremendous pressure on quarterback, Andrew Maxwell. After Michigan State lost many key players to graduation, like wide receiver BJ Cunningham, defensive lineman Jerel Worthy, and the powerhouse quarterback, Kirk Cousins, the Spartans have struggled with their offense, especially with throwing the ball. The team has relied heavily on running back, Le’veon Bell, who is currently topping the team with 916 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns. Yet, if the Wolverines can stop Bell, it will force the Spartans to pass the ball, which is not a strong point of the team. However, with Michigan State’s strong defense, Robinson may have troubles getting through the explosive defensive end, William Gholston with 18 tackles this season. Unfortunately, when last weeks BCS rankings were posted, neither team made the cut. As Michigan State fights for their 5th win and their longest win streak against the Wolverines, Michigan will fight to become the first Big Ten team in the BCS ranks, as there are none so far. Overall, it will be a close game and a big fight for both teams, however, many Spartan fans are beginning to accept the end of an era, as Michigan is predicted to take the win.
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