In the week leading up to the Michigan-Michigan State football game each year, football writers from the Daily and the student newspaper at Michigan State exchange columns. You can find this year’s installment below, starting with the Daily and followed by The State News.
Max Cohen, The Michigan Daily
EAST LANSING — There are few things in this world more ridiculous than the stereotypes Michigan fans place upon Michigan State fans. Wolverine faithful go on and on about how their Spartan counterparts are petty and have a massive inferiority complex when it comes to Michigan, but there’s no way that could ever be true.
Michigan State has outscored Michigan by a combined score of 64-17 the last two times the schools’ football teams have met. Surely, Spartan fans realize their football team has been better than Michigan’s for the past few years and are ready to welcome Jim Harbaugh into the big family rivalry with open arms.
But I’m from New Jersey, so what the heck do I know? I decided to see for myself. Before Tuesday afternoon, I’d only spent a few hours on Michigan State’s campus during my first three years of college, but I really wanted to get a feel for the other side of the rivalry heading into Saturday’s game.
I drove to East Lansing on Tuesday, parked outside of Gate B of Spartan Stadium and threw on my roommate’s No. 4 Jim Harbaugh jersey. I was sure everyone there would be pumped to see me.
To the shock of most Michigan fans, the people of East Lansing, particularly the students of Michigan State, could not have been more courteous.
Within 20 minutes of my arrival, I was in the middle of a stroll down Bogue Street in the middle of campus when a blue minivan swerved into the right lane to be closer to where I was walking. The driver rolled down his window and pointed at me with his middle fingers. I thought it was a little weird at first, but then I remembered that the gesture that is considered obscene in other places is just a normal greeting in East Lansing.
“MAGGOT,” he yelled.
At first, I thought he had actually replaced the “m” in maggot with an “f,” but then I realized that was ridiculous. There’s no way a Michigan State fan, with his complete lack of an inferiority complex, would ever utter such a heinous slur to someone wearing a Jim Harbaugh Michigan jersey, especially in the 21st century.
So I panicked. I figured there must have been a maggot on me, and I’m really not a huge fan of bugs. I also told my roommate I’d return his Jim Harbaugh jersey in mint condition, and a maggot could ruin any chance of that.
I found no maggot, but it was nice of the Michigan State fan to warn me anyway, just in case there was one.
As I continued to walk down the street, something else really unusual happened: A bunch of people kept whispering the same word under their breaths right after I passed them. It definitely rhymed with fire truck.
I checked Twitter to figure out where the fire was so that I could avoid it on my walk, but I couldn’t seem to find anything. It was a huge relief. I was nervous I’d walk into a burning couch.
I walked through academic buildings, on the street and next to the Red Cedar River, which runs through campus. But one thing never changed: Everyone kept staring at me. It was flattering, really.
I’ve seen Michigan State students claim all of the students there are better looking than the students in Ann Arbor, but I’m pretty sure that isn’t true. I mean, my mom always says I’m handsome, but this was truly astounding. Every single person was looking me up and down, clearly intrigued by what they saw. They thought I was the best-looking person on the entire campus.
A few students even took pictures! One kid snapped one after I walked by him. I caught him in the act and waved back at him. He laughed and turned around.
I went to the Michigan State bookstore, too. I walked in and bought some pens for my Strategy exam the next day. When I got to the cash register, I asked the cashier if they sold any Jim Harbaugh jerseys. I figured that since everyone seemed to be so nice to me when I was there, maybe they wanted to buy Harbaugh jerseys, too.
“We don’t,” she said. “I’m sorry about that.”
How ridiculous, I thought. Clearly, everyone in East Lansing loves Harbaugh and just wants to look out for Michigan fans. I decided to prove her wrong.
I walked back to my car at Spartan Stadium and pulled a pad of paper out of the trunk. I scrawled the words “Honk for Harbaugh” on one sheet and walked to the busy intersection right next to the stadium.
I stood at Red Cedar Road for a half-hour, and six people honked. You might not think much of that, but the rest of the drivers were even more emphatic. Many of them gave me the traditional East Lansing middle-finger greeting. Others laughed hysterically, too excited at the prospect of their team getting to play against Jim Harbaugh to be capable of honking.
Two adults who walked by told me I was the bravest man on campus. Personally, I’ve always thought Tom Izzo was the bravest for having the courage to constantly complain about injuries, but I really appreciated their consideration.
Of course, there are a few bad apples in every bunch. One elderly woman rolled down her window to shake her head at me from the passenger seat. She gave my efforts a big thumbs-down.
A few of the drivers indicated they feared for my safety. A few others seemed to wish harm upon me.
Among the latter category was a group of four bros in a van.
“We can’t read your sign,” one yelled out the window.
Shoot. And here I was, trying to go the entire column without making fun of the reading ability of Michigan State students.
Cohen is the Co-Managing Sports Editor and a football beat writer at The Michigan Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MaxACohen.
Matthew Argillander, The State News
It’s that time of year again. It’s the battle for Paul Bunyan. No. 7-ranked MSU (6-0 overall, 2-0 Big Ten) vs. No. 12-ranked Michigan (5-1 overall, 2-0 Big Ten).
MSU has owned the series since head coach Mark Dantonio took over. Dantonio is 6-2 against the Wolverines.
The first of his two losses came in his first season at the helm, and former Wolverine running back Mike Hart’s infamous “little brother” comments after that loss put a boulder on the shoulder of the Spartans.
MSU went on to win the next four straight and six of seven. The only other loss came in 2012 with former Spartan quarterback Andrew Maxwell unable to get the offense going. The Wolverines won on four field goals by a score of 12-10.
MSU hasn’t just beat U-M in their matchups since Dantonio took over, they’ve dominated. In the Spartans six wins over Michigan under Dantonio they’ve had a +16.3 margin of victory.
Since 2008, MSU has outscored U-M 197-101, not bad for “little brother”. U-M fans will point to the Wolverines 68-34-5 all-time series lead, and that’s all they’ve been able to do since Dantonio took over.
U-M is relatively wealthy when it comes to their 11 national championships, but much like the Michigan Daily’s columns you have to take that with a grain of salt.
Michigan only has one outright national title (1948) since 1936 when the Associated Press began naming the champion. Since 1948 U-M has just one championship, a split with Nebraska in 1997.
Michigan fans like to live in the past, but most of their success came before the average Wolverine fan was born.
Since Jim Harbaugh took over as head coach at Michigan, it’s been all Harbaugh, all the time.
Their fans have bragged about how they are “back” and how “order has been restored”. However, this is the new order— a world where the Wolverines have to beat MSU to prove they are relevant.
Michigan’s last couple of games put the Harbaugh hype train at top speed, to the point where U-M is now favored by +8.5 despite being ranked lower and outscored 64-17 in the last two games between the two.
The last thing Michigan fans needed was another chip on the shoulders of these Spartans. The “little brother” fuel has provided four straight MSU wins.
Last year when U-M linebacker Joe Bolden foolishly put a stake in the ground at Spartan Stadium he put a chip on the shoulders of a better team.
It doesn’t matter how they won. MSU is undefeated and now they are being disrespected.
“Really doesn’t take much to have a chip on our shoulder,” MSU senior quarterback Connor Cook said When did he say this? . “We’re going to go into each and every game with the underdog mentality, that we’re going on out there and prove to everyone why we deserve the respect that we deserve.”
It may not be the Wolverines fault that their hype train has left the Spartans feeling disrespected, but they will suffer the consequences.
When the 2014 Online Pacemaker-winning paper comes out victorious as underdogs on Friday in our annual touch football game against the Michigan Daily the other “underdogs” will do the same on Saturday.
No hard feelings after we win on Friday, we’ll still give you some advice.
Argillander is a State News football reporter. He can be reached at email@example.com
Editor’s note: This column is subject to the editing team and style guide of The State News. The Daily has published it as presented.