“A player for the last decade, a series doesn’t make. Michigan looks to get back to their dominating ways against little brother, Michigan State.”
Let’s make no mistake about it, this Saturday night against Michigan State, is an enormous game. In every respect; recruiting battles, fanfare, bragging rights and the list goes from there. Michigan won last year’s match-up handily, while State took a big leap backwards and finished the season 3-9. Yet we as Michigan fans have been on the viewing end of ESPN and their take on the series. Of course, since it’s at the Big House, the narrow-ended scope is focused on Michigan being on the losing end of a Jalen Watts-Jackson walk-off scoop and score back in 2015; the last time Sparty entered Michigan Stadium.
The disrespect isn’t just on one side, however; Michigan State is a 10 point underdog and that is coming off an unexpected win versus an Iowa team that took the now #4 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions to the brink at Kinnick.
No matter what side you look at it from, this game is filled with nothing but hate and trash talk. This game should be absolutely stellar while keeping the status quo in-line. The status quo I’m speaking of is, of course, the fact that historically Michigan wins this game.
Let’s take this back to the year 1969. Astronaut Neil Armstrong had just became the first man in history to walk on the moon, Joe Namath was finger wagging away following a guaranteed victory over the Baltimore Colts in Superbowl III, and the big one ladies and gentlemen. Glenn Edward “Bo” Schembechler was entering his first season as the head coach of the Michigan Wolverines. When Bo was hired, newspaper headlines read “Bo Who?” Little did anyone know, Bo was and still is a big deal because, with him at the helm reining in his troops, Michigan utterly eviscerated their in-state rival to the tune of 17 victories and all but 4 loses.
The first loss occurred during his first season here with the Wolverines, but Michigan State and their winning ways would be very short lived. Schembechler-head–coached-Michigan-teams rattled off an impressive 8 straight wins. These wins took place in the years of 1970 to 1977; none of which were decided by less than 10 points but in all fairness were never true beat downs. Following 77′ was a loss in 78′, thanks to a fiery start by Michigan State and a 17-0 lead that all but proved to be insurmountable as the Wolverines fell to the Spartans 24-15.
Since that loss in 1978, Schembechler would go on to win 9 out of the next 11 in the series. The Michigan dominance didn’t just end at Bo either, Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr handled business and helped stretch the Michigan lead all-time. Today the current series stands at 69-35-5, with a Michigan lead. A victory for the Wolverines would double Michigan State’s total series wins. No pressure, though.
After Schembechler, Moeller, and Carr, the series realistically didn’t take a turn in favor of Michigan State until 2008, when Michigan head coaches, Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke combined to go just 1-6 against the Spartans. The lone win in that span was the result of a 12-10 game in which offense was at a premium to say the least and Brendan Gibbons nailed a 38 yard field goal with 5 seconds remaining.
Michigan would go on later that year to win the Sugar bowl against the Virginia Tech Hokies.
Now, with Jim Harbaugh at the helm, his Wolverines are now 1-1, looking for that record to become 2-1 this Saturday. Obviously his win coming in East Lansing last year and it being signed, sealed, and delivered via fumbled Michigan State 2-point conversion being picked up by Jabrill Peppers, only to be housed 90 yards away to increase the Wolverines lead to 32-23.
Unfinished business, plain and simple here. Do not get me wrong, I’m very happy with our 2016 victory. However, something felt off watching it. Michigan had the game all but wrapped up with a bow after dominating their way to a 30-10 lead. Then it appeared that they let their foot off the gas pedal and coasted the rest of the game. But I knew that in my mind, while my heart wanted more – more dominance, more points – I selfishly wanted retribution. I was looking at the series like a single paint stroke, instead of standing back and enjoying the full work of art in front of me.
To simplify, I personally wanted retribution for the handful of games that haven’t gone my way for the better part of the last decade, but when looking back at the history of the rivalry the numbers are on our side and that is what I am grateful for. All of the pre-2008 Michigan coaches handled business against Michigan State, and Jim Harbaugh looks to continue the historical trend.
So thank you to every coach who defeated our in-state rival, thank you Coach Harbaugh and as always Go Blue.
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