Nathan Goralski ‘18: Michigan and Michigan State Universities continue their storied rivalry Saturday, October 7th at 7:30 PM at The Big House in Ann Arbor. The teams have met a total of 110 times, in which Michigan leads the all time record at 70-35-5. Although, Michigan State is 7-3 the past ten years of the rivalry.
The two teams began playing for the Paul Bunyan Trophy in 1953 in honor of Michigan State joining the Big Ten Conference. Michigan won the trophy 36 times to Michigan State’s 26 wins, with two ties thrown in the mix. Michigan may have more wins in the all-time series, but it took until 1958 to get the rivalry as a home-and-home series, meaning the teams get a home game every other year. Before 1957 the game was played in Ann Arbor 46 times and in East Lansing 6 times.
Michigan is favored to win the 2017 match up by 10.5 points. The Wolverines stellar performance on defense, allowing only 203 yards per game, ranks them first in college football. On the other hand, Michigan’s offense thus far this season struggles scoring inside the redzone. If Michigan can figure out their offensive woes with new quarterback John O’Korn, who came in against Purdue for an injured Wilton Speight, then experts predict Michigan should be able to handle the in-state rival.
Michigan State is said to be the underdog in this match up, however, anything can happen in games like this. The Spartans, lead by sophomore quarterback Brian Lewerke, leads the team in both passing and rushing yards. Lewerke with quarterback rating (QBR) of 76.0 on a scale out of 100, ranks him 18th in college football. Another positive note for the green and white ranks their defense 21st in the nation allowing 18 points per game. The best case scenario for the Spartans relies upon Michigan’s offense continuing its’ struggles and Lewerke throwing a couple touchdowns, which would allow the Spartans a huge upset, shaking up college football.
In the past 10 years, the teams have produced some of the greatest games in the rivalry and in the history of college football. In 2007, Michigan’s high powered national championship contending team found themselves down 24-14 with just over seven minutes left in the fourth quarter. Quarterback, Chad Henne organized two touchdown drives in the short amount of time remaining. He threw a touchdown pass to Mario Manningham in the corner of the endzone with 2:28 left. Michigan won the 100th anniversary game, 28-24.
The 2015 game would mark the craziest ending of a game in the match ups history. An undefeated, number 7 ranked Michigan State team traveled the short 60 mile drive to take on a 5-1, number 12 ranked Michigan team. The game returned to Ann Arbor for the first time since 2012 and promised to be a thriller. Michigan started off early with a lead and never trailed behind in the game. Michigan lead 23-21, on what seemed to be Michigan State’s final attempt to score and take the lead and potentially win. On third down, Michigan’s defense came through with a huge sack to push the Spartans out of field goal range. It looked all but over. Michigan needed a first down to run out the clock and finish the game. On a fourth and two, with 10 seconds left, Michigan punts. The snap was low and bobbled their punter Blake O’Neill, the punt would be blocked and returned 38 yards by Jalen Watts-Jackson for a Spartan touchdown to win the game.
“It will be a low-scoring game, 17-14 Michigan State because I bleed green,” said Mrs. Durand, MSU graduate and fanatic. “I believe Michigan State’s defense is better than Michigan’s offense. And our quarterback will make just enough plays to win.”
Ryan Nawrocki ‘18, a Michigan State fan gave his input on the game as well.
“I still have to be realistic with my picks. I believe that State’s offense will get shut down by Michigan’s defense, so I have Michigan winning 24-10,” Nawrocki said.
Who will take home the Paul Bunyan trophy in this chapter of the historic game? This game always provides excitement and should be another fight to the finish. Sparty On! And Go Blue!