Michigan’s History With Michigan State

Posted on Posted in Michigan Football

One of the great rivalries of college football will renew its series this Saturday afternoon when the Michigan Wolverines travel to East Lansing to take on the Michigan State Spartans. This is a series that dates all the way back to 1898 with Michigan holding a 68-33-5 record over the Spartans. Recently, however, Michigan State has bounced back to claim five of the last six. This Saturday when these two programs meet for the 107th time, it will be Michigan State that holds a clear advantage over the Wolverines.


On Oct. 15, 1910, Michigan beat Michigan State by a score of 6-3, but there were many disputes as to how the Wolverines actually were able to win that game. The Aggies of State Agricultural College (now Michigan State) were driving down the field when Michigan’s timekeeper declared the game to be over. On the other sideline, MAC’s timekeeper said there were still seven minutes left to play. Officials eventually sided with Michigan (because there was no official game clock), and the Wolverines won.


Michigan won eight consecutive games over its in-state rival during this time.


1970: 34-20

1971: 24-13

1972: 10-0

1973: 31-0

1974: 21-7

1975: 16-6

1976: 42-10

1977:  24-14


It was the game dubbed “Number One vs. No One” by the Michigan faithful. The Wolverines were ranked as the best team in the country, while Michigan State entered with a record of 1-2-1. A classic match between David and Goliath, history should have served as a lesson for the boastful Wolverines. Michigan State fended off a spirited comeback from the Wolverines to hoist a 28-27 victory.

With six seconds remaining in the game, Michigan quarterback Elvin Grbac threw a touchdown to Derrick Alexander to make it 28-27 Michigan State. Coach Gary Moeller elected to go the two-point conversion and the win, but Desmond Howard was unable to hang on to the pass thrown to him as he hit the turf. Michigan recovered the ensuing onside kick to still give itself a chance, but a Hail Mary was intercepted by the Spartans to end the game.


Michigan entered its game against Michigan State in East Lansing undefeated and ranked No. 8 in the country. With less than three minutes to play, Michigan State received the ball at midfield down 24-20. Two very costly Wolverines penalties helped propel the Spartans down the field as time began ticking away. Michigan State was wrongly charged its final timeout on the same play that Michigan was penalized for having 12 men on the field. Spartans quarterback Jeff Smoker attempted to scramble for the end zone but was cut down short at the one yard line. The Spartans rushed to the line and spiked the ball with one second remaining. On the next play, Smoker connected with J.T. Duckett in the end zone to give Michigan State the upset with a 26-24 win.


Michigan defeated Michigan State 45-37 in the first triple-overtime game in Michigan Stadium history.

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Tyler Fenwick
Managing Editor at The Big House Report
I am an aspiring journalist studying at IUPUI. I am the third (and youngest) manager of The Big House Report, and it's my responsibility to make sure it runs more smoothly today than it did yesterday.