Lavert Hill bounced down the Michigan sideline, waiving his arms in jubilation with his helmet in hand. Behind him, the rest of the Wolverines did the same, spilling onto the field, toward the stands and everywhere in between.
I know that’s not 100 percent accurate. For the Wolverines, a loss would end any faint hopes at a New Years’ Six Bowl. For Michigan State, it could be the difference between the Quick Lane Bowl and the Pinstripe Bowl — both worthy successors to its prestigious 2018 RedBox Bowl appearance.
It’s for good reason — Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio is notorious for his trick plays. He’s run them for years, with well-known plays dating back to the beginning of his tenure in East Lansing. The Wolverines are well aware how much hate goes into this rivalry, and they know that Dantonio’s trickery is another thing to look out for.
When you consider the connections that lie in every corner of this rivalry, it’s no surprise that Michigan-Michigan State is known as one of the ugliest matchups in college football. For players throughout the state who grew up devout in this rivalry, whose lives are ingrained in this rivalry, this is their holy grail.
This matters because Dantonio is about to lead his team into the biggest game of its season. And, perhaps more than any other point in his 13-year tenure as Michigan State’s coach, the Spartans’ season is tied into the result.