The Michigan football team travels to East Lansing to take on its in-state rival, the Michigan State Spartans this weekend. This will be the 109th meeting between the two teams, and Michigan leads the series 69-36-3. A lot of emotions surround this game in which the winner takes home the infamous Paul Bunyan trophy. Here is all the vital info that you need to know and what I will be watching for in this rivalry game.
#2 Michigan (7-0, 4-0) at Michigan St (2-5, 0-4)
Kickoff: October 29th at Noon
Where to Watch: ESPN
Odds: Michigan favored by 24.5
What to Watch For
This historical rivalry between two in-state teams, has grown into a contest that is chalked full of emotions. Anticipation, revenge, anger, hatred, excitement, and determination are a few ways to describe what is going through the minds of the players, and also the fans. Todays final analysis will be a bit different because there is only one thing I am watching for in this contest…a Wolverine beatdown. A signature Michigan victory, could help return the Spartans to “little brother” status, as former Michigan running back, Mike Hart once said.
In 2007, after Michigan’s 28-24 victory, Hart called the Spartans Michigan’s little brother. Michigan trailed by ten, with just over 7:00 remaining in the game, but a come from behind victory, sealed Michigan’s eighth win, in ten tries over their in state rivals. “Sometimes you get your little brother excited when you’re playing basketball and stuff; you let them get the lead, and then you just come back, and take it back”. Those words have echoed for almost a century now in the mitten state.
At that point in time, Michigan State was the little brother, and all I knew was Michigan victories. However, after that comment the Spartans put together four straight wins over the Wolverines, and have now won 7 out of the last 8 games.
2008 marked the first game for new coach Rich Rodriguez(it pains me to even mention him), and he would never defeat Sparty in his tenure. After three losses to the Spartans, under Rodriguez, the Wolverines turned to a new head coach, Brady Hoke. Hoke would end the losing streak, in his second year at Michigan (2012), and fans began to think things would return to normal; but we were wrong. Mark Dantonio’s team would take the next three in a row, including one that was handed on a platter to his team last year. This is the one that fires me up. Coach Harbaugh had his team ready to win last year and had the game in the bag, if only the last punt play went as intended.
Wolverine nation is hungry for a win, and not a 10-3 victory, but a lopsided blowout. A statement win. A career defining win for the coaches and players. One that sends a message out to all incoming recruits over the next several years. A message that Michigan is back among the elite, and the Spartans are back to being “little brother”.
Up until 2008 Michigan ruled in state recruiting, and never had to worry about Michigan State stealing top recruits. Dantonio however, has since put together some very good classes, and pulled some highly ranked guys his way. I don’t see this happening anymore since Michigan has a group of coaches that seem to be among the best at recruiting great talent. I know Michigan State will be hosting several recruits for this big game, so hopefully they will be more impressed with the Wolverines. The recruiting battle, social media war, and digs back and forth between current and former players have intensified this weekends game. No more tweets or comments, it’s time to go out on the field and play like champions! Win this game and bring the Paul Bunyan trophy back to Ann Arbor!
Michigan cannot win the game by my inspiring words alone, so here is what I expect out of the team.
I see Wilton Speight getting into a good rhythm, through a strong running game and some play action. He will continue to have a high completion percentage, take care of the football, and be a good game manager. Short passes to Jake Butt over the middle can set up the deep ball when the safeties start to move up. Jehu Chesson has been kind of quiet so I hope to see a big game from him. The stable of running backs on this team is very impressive, so I expect one of them to rush for over 100 yards, and 225 yards collectively. I really see the offense just unloading on the below average defense of Michigan State, but out of respect for the rivalry, I only predicted them to put 37 points.
The nations number one defense will blitz the Spartan quarterbacks all day, and pressure them like nothing they have seen this year. The Michigan monsters on the D-line will hit, hurry, and sack whoever stands in the QB position…multiple times. Hopefully they hit the quarterback so much, that he simply does not want to go back on the field. This defense is too good for me to single anyone out, so just be ready to watch a special unit do great things.
Jabrill Peppers will line up in all kinds of positions and it would not surprise me if he completed a pass to himself. Look for him to give a Heisman performance and help lead his team to victory.
I ask you coach Harbaugh, and every Michigan football player, give us fans the amazing win that we greatly desire. Show the nation once again, that you are a team that others must fear to play. Hoist up that trophy in the heart of East Lansing, after clobbering “little brother”. Go Blue! See you next week Michigan fans!