The MSU-U of M rivalry is as strong as ever

Carter Landis, Sports Editor

A rivalry as old as time – and euchre – in the state of Michigan, where fans of the Wolverines and Spartans don’t like each other at all, ditto goes for the players on both sides of the ball.

Recall 2013 when MSU defensive back Darqueze Dennard refused to say the word ‘Michigan’ the entire week of the game. Recall Michigan running back Mike Hart calling Michigan State ‘little brother’ during a postgame interview after a Michigan comeback win against State in 2007.

The two bitter rivals meet once again this Saturday, October 7th, for the infamous Paul Bunyan trophy, awarded to the winner every year.

For a better understanding of the history of the rivalry, the two teams have played each other 109 times, Michigan leading the all time series 69-35-5. Since the Paul Bunyan trophy was introduced in 1953, Michigan leads 36-26-2.

Since Mark Dantonio was hired as head coach of the Spartans in 2007, the rivalry took a turn. Michigan State has won seven of ten games in the Dantonio era, including 2015, one of the most shocking endings to any football game ever, when Michigan was up 23-21 with two seconds left and Michigan punter Blake O’Neill lost the snap and Spartans safety Jalen Watts Jackson scooped it up and ran into the end zone as time expired and Michigan State won the game, 27-23, for their third straight victory against Michigan.

However, ever since Jim Harbaugh was hired at Michigan in 2014, the Wolverines have been a national championship contender every year. Leading his alma mater to a 24-6 record, Michigan opens against MSU as a heavy favorite going into Saturday’s game.

Michigan defeated Michigan State in the most recent meeting, 32-23. Michigan held a 30-10 lead in the fourth quarter until Mark Dantonio benched senior quarterback Tyler O’Connor in favor of redshirt freshman Brian Lewerke, who then threw a touchdown during the comeback attempt before suffering a broken leg. Dantonio then returned O’Connor to the game. Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers capitalized on the Wolverines’ first victory against MSU by returning a two point conversion attempt to the end zone, awarding Michigan the two points.

This year, Michigan once again looks primed to make a run at the college football playoff. Sitting at 4-0 with a key victory against Florida, Jim Harbaugh has his Wolverines ready to defeat a Michigan State team that looks to put their dismal 2016 season in the rear view.

Mark Dantonio and the Spartans are having a resurgent start to the 2017 season, coming out of the gates with a 3-1 record (already matching last year’s win total) with a key win against Iowa. The defense has shown flashes of being dominant once again, reminiscent of a team like 2013’s Spartans.

A key to victory for Michigan is scoring against the Spartan D. John O’Korn takes over at quarterback for the injured Wilton Speight. The running game will have to show up, because MSU has been elite at stopping the run. A Spartan key to victory is also getting the offense going against the notorious Wolverine D, featuring defensive tackle Rashan Gary. Michigan State’s run game has struggled, a big reason being LJ Scott’s slow start to the season.

It seems that Michigan has been ready for this game for a long time, and Harbaugh will most likely drive a stake through the hearts of Spartan fans once again.

Prediction: Michigan 24, Michigan State 21