Michigan State linebacker Riley Bullough has captured the attention of his in-state rivals, specifically redshirt sophomore quarterback Wilton Speight.
“They’ve got a bunch of good guys in the box, with their leader Riley Bullough,” Speight said Tuesday. “That dude is an angry guy. He wants to get in the quarterback’s kitchen on every play, so I know I have to get the ball out as quickly as possible.”
Being from Traverse City, Mich., Bullough is no stranger to the in-state rivalry. His brother, Max, was also a linebacker for the Spartans and currently plays in the National Football League for the Houston Texans.
Bullough was recently ejected for targeting in the first quarter of the Spartans’ matchup with Maryland, but because the call was made in the first half, he’ll be eligible to play against Michigan.
In four games this season, he has 26 tackles and four for loss. He was out for three straight games due to injury earlier this season.
The Daily talked with Bullough at Big Ten Media Days in July to discuss the rivalry, what it takes to be successful in the Big Ten and his cross-country-star sister, Holly Bullough.
The Michigan Daily: So the talk is that your sister is the best athlete in the family?
Riley Bullough: Yeah, it always is. But she really is, she’s special. She’s coming here to run track and cross country so she’ll be (in East Lansing) in August. So it’s exciting for her, but yeah, she’s a freak athlete. She works out like three times a day and eats insanely healthy, so she probably is the best athlete.
Q: Does this team relish when people — opponents, media, whoever — overlooks them a little bit?
RB: Yeah, at this point, I feel like it’s part of our identity. I feel like every year, there’s people doubting us. But I guess we like it, because we seem to play pretty well. That’s just what we plan on doing again this year.
Q: Do you find it tougher to maintain this success? It’s one thing to get there, and now you guys have to stay there.
RB: Yeah, I think it’s hard to just play in this league. To be successful is extremely hard. Week in and week out, you’re playing quality opponents. We try to take it a week at a time, and really, that’s what we’ve done. Look at last year, we had some close games, but we just fought it out. I just think each week is going to be tough, and we’re just looking forward to it again.
Q: Was it tough being Max’s little brother?
RB: It was a lot of fun. We had fun growing up. But him coming here and doing the things that he did — I wouldn’t say it was tough, it just put the expectations that much higher. I was expected to do what he did and more, so I just kinda cherished that and relished that.
Q: With the way that the MSU-U of M game ended last year, does that even take the intensity up a notch, not that it needs it?
RB: I think for sure. I’m sure they think that we kinda stole that game from them. But that rivalry every year is huge, especially if you grew up in Michigan. You’re either the team down the road or you’re Michigan State. There’s no in-between, so that’s just kind of how it is, and I think that’s the way it should be.