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.
The Michigan Daily’s Ryan Kartje:
My sister was never one for common sense. We’ve been telling her this for years.
Despite this, she had always told me she wanted to follow in my footsteps and go to one of the finest schools, athletically and academically, in the country. A place where couches remain untorched and blondes remain unbleached. I held out hope for her.
So you can imagine my disappointment when she decided to go back on that promise, give up any remaining common sense or job prospects, and apply to Michigan State.
But there’s still time to save her.
There’s still time to consider other paths of education. Trade school, perhaps? A healthy apprenticeship with the local garbage man, maybe? Either would lead to a more respectable job, post-graduation.
So I leave this to you sis, my last plea to get you back to your senses and to keep you where you belong: Ann Arbor. Remember, you’re already my little sister, you don’t need to be my little brother too.
Dear little sister,
You know I care about you. That’s why I’m doing this. But just so you get a picture of what life would be like in East Lansing, let me describe how that first year would go.
First off, chances are you’ll end up in one of Michigan State’s fine dormitory establishments — just a hop, skip, a jump and a 30-minute walk from everything else on campus. Once you get settled in that night, make sure you take a trip down East Grand River to stop in at Gumby’s for its famous late-night pizza — a place where Michigan State students crave “pokey stix” because garlic knots are too complicated.
I know you get homesick, but don’t worry: they do all they can to make you feel welcome in that first week. Maybe you’ll play some icebreakers with your R.A. and your hall. Or maybe, you guys could go out and get ice cream. Maybe the football team will even take time out of their night and bring in the welcome wagon like they did for the new kids at Rather Hall last year by wearing ski masks and beating the tar out of you and your freshman friends.
Once you make it to the weekend, that first Saturday should be something you never forget: your first gameday as a college student. Now, I know you’ve only been to gamedays in Ann Arbor, so I made you a list of ways to fit in when you make your way into Spartan Stadium:
1. Don’t show your disappointment when you realize the stadium has almost 40,000 fewer seats than you’re used to. I hear the upper level really isn’t that bad, especially with binoculars.
2. I know you love to sing, so make sure to read up on the Michigan State fight song. Once you get over the fact that it has nine more lines to remember than the gold standard at Michigan and that most of the lyrics don’t rhyme, it shouldn’t be too hard.
3. If you ever start talking football with another student, remember your facts: State has won six Big Ten titles, just one fewer than the University of Chicago (which left the conference and Division I in 1946). You have zero Heisman Trophy winners and a grand total of two Pro Football Hall of Famers to Michigan’s three and eight, respectively. And the greatest triumph in the history of State football was delivered by Appalachian State in 2007. That last one’s important, make sure to harp on it as much as possible.
4. Lastly, make sure you ignore the fact that you’ve seen probably half the offense on either an episode of Dateline or re-runs of The Longest Yard. Remember, Sparty deserves second, third and fourth chances, too.
If this sounds at all appealing, then I guess I can’t do anything to stop you. You being a little sibling, I understand that you would do anything in your power to step out of your successful older brother’s shadow. And maybe you would enjoy events like “Tie your shoes like Kirk Cousins” Day, where everyone pretends they don’t know how cool it is that Denard Robinson runs with untied shoes.
And would you look at that? I spent a whole 700 words without even discussing the greatest player in college football — a Wolverine who will probably run for a touchdown before the Michigan State band makes it through the fight song once on Saturday.
I know, I know, what if Denard gets hurt? Michigan State will, after all, focus their entire gameplan on stopping him and only him. But I worry less about Denard and more about the Spartan linebackers, who probably can’t pronounce half the words used to hyperbolize Michigan’s quarterback.
So think it over on Saturday after Michigan, with next-to-no secondary, an injured running back and a seemingly absent defensive coordinator still beats Michigan State with one player and a pair of untied shoes. Then, let me know.
Your Big Brother
-Ryan Kartje is the Daily’s Managing Sports Editor. He can be reached at email@example.com
The State News’ Jeremy Warnemuende:
Are you ready to admit it yet?
I know it’s tough for you self-righteous and even more self-conscious Michigan faithful to confess to any sign of inferiority. But if someone already hasn’t done it for you, I’ll be the one to let you know:
It’s over. It’s been 1,069 days and counting since the last time the Wolverines have topped the Spartans — in football or men’s basketball — and it’s official your time as self-proclaimed big brother has run out.
I remember standing in the Michigan student section in 2008, singing the “Michigan State Fight Song” with the thousands of other MSU students and fans who invaded your sacred hole in the ground to watch a 35-21 Spartans’ win. I also remember whenever the eyesores known as U-M students made their incredibly predictable and dim-witted attempts to mock my education, it easily was overpowered by chants of, “Go Green. Go White.”
The high concentration of green and white in the crowd that day was no coincidence.
MSU fans proudly packed into the Big House for a reason, knowing the game was going to be the beginning of a new era.
So far, so good.
The two straight wins speak for themselves, but the actions off the field can be telling as well.
Big-time recruits now are flocking to East Lansing, while players already committed to U-M are running away from Rich Rodriguez like little kids fleeing from a strange man handing out candy in his big, white van.
All of your fans, Wolverines or otherwise, also have indicated how the rivalry has changed. It eats you up inside to know MSU is taking ownership of the annual matchup.
You claim this hardly is a rivalry and the game means nothing. MSU is just another team on the schedule.
That must be why you’re buying up T-shirts that read, “The Big Game at the Big House,” and hyping tomorrow’s game like your season depends on the result.
You’re lying if you say it doesn’t bother you that two years after the last game at the Big House, the Paul Bunyan Trophy remains in East Lansing.
Sorry to break it to you, but he has no intentions of leaving.
You tried to snatch him away last year.
Quarterback Tate Forcier, then the Heisman front-runner and only known hobbit in the U.S., led the undefeated Wolverines into Spartan Stadium.
The little guy kept it close for a while, even managing to force overtime. In the end, though, it was kind of like when you play basketball against your little brother and you let him hang around for a little while before — well, you get the point.
Michigan once again brings an undefeated record into this year’s game and has a new Heisman favorite lining up behind center. Perfect.
The only thing better than beating a Wolverine when he’s down is knocking him off his high horse — a position you all love whether it’s deserved or not.
So when Denard Robinson — built more for the WNBA than college football — takes the field against MSU, don’t expect any of the Spartans to be worried. Instead, real Big Ten football players, such as senior linebacker Greg Jones, who hasn’t had a chance to hit someone Robinson’s size since his freshman year of high school, will be salivating at the opportunity in front of him.
Everyone is talking about what Robinson has done to the likes of Indiana and Notre Dame — teams with defenses so good they’ve almost cracked the top 85 in the country.
But much like last season, the hype won’t matter.
And like two years ago, neither will any home-field advantage. Not after the additions to the Big House did nothing more than create extra room for green-and-white-clad fans to embarrass the U-M crowd, sitting on its hands as MSU destroys a defense even Robinson would feel bad for abusing.
Looking at what I’ve said and thinking about it more, I know nothing I can say will help you accept the fact the Spartans are taking over a rivalry you care about more than you’ll ever admit. As the most delusional fan base in the country, you just don’t have it in you.
However, maybe, after MSU extends the winning streak to 1,070 days tomorrow, you’ll start to get the point.
-Jeremy Warnemuende is a State News sports reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.