When the Rock is green and Sparty is blue, the annual Michigan-Michigan State showdown must be right around the corner.

Paul Wong
The Rock and a nearby trash can were painted green yesterday, three days before the big intrastate rivalry game between the Wolverines and the Spartans this Saturday in East Lansing.<br><br>DAVID ROCHKIND/Daily

In the spirit of the intense competition, the Rock, on the corner of Hill Street and Washtenaw Avenue in Ann Arbor, was painted green and white yesterday.

Meanwhile, members of Michigan State”s marching band have been camping out around the statue of their school”s mascot, Sparty.

But they weren”t able to protect the statue from being painted blue by Michigan fans yesterday.

Still, neither campus has requested extra security for Saturday”s game because of subdued feelings about the rivalry this year, security officials from both school said.

The rivalry between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University dates back to Oct. 12, 1898, but the competition is being underplayed on both campuses this year, with some University students going as far as denying that a true rivalry even exists.

“Can it really be a rivalry when Michigan has won two-thirds of all the meetings? Michigan State is an annoyance to our football program. They win once every three years and they will never let you forget about it,” said “Superfan” Reza Breakstone, an LSA senior.

Other students shared similar sentiments.

“The game is a bigger deal there. Here, we are seen on a national level State isn”t. MSU latches onto to the idea of being a major Michigan rival because they”re not as well known nationally. It”s the be-all, end-all game at State. For us, it”s the Ohio State game,” said Elizabeth Crabtree, a sophomore in the School of Music who transferred to Michigan after spending her freshmen year at Michigan State.

Some Michigan State students also said the spirit of the game hasn”t been as wild as past years.

“Things have been much calmer this year. You haven”t heard too much about it,” said Michigan State sophomore Sara Wright.

“Students are selling their tickets this year but not many people are buying them,” said Sain Davies, a Michigan State sophomore. “Those that are able to sell them aren”t making much money. In the past, tickets for the MSU versus Michigan game have gone for as much as $225. This year, people are lucky to get $75. It”s really weird.”

In comparison to previous years, yesterday”s pranks seem tame.

In 1998, Michigan State police arrested 14 University students after attacking Sparty with yellow paint balls and buckets. Michigan State fans have also painted the “M” on the Diag with obscene sayings in past years.

“The Spartys have definitely been more on the ball about pranks on schools. They nailed the “M” on the Diag two years ago and other areas of campus. They did this without retribution,” Breakstone said. “This year will not be the same. The Maize Rage will be defending the Diag and there will be no Sparty symbols on our Central Campus area.

“As for us pranking them, it hasn”t happened that much in recent years. There may still be a plan brewing, but I am not giving away hidden designs.”

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