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The OTHER Big Game: Michigan vs. Michigan State 2010

October 9, 2010

So the “big game” or what I refer to as the “Other Big Game” is upon us. Michigan State vs. The University of Michigan. This years game will be at the newly renovated Big House and will boast over 100,000 combined Wolverine and Spartan fans. The Wolverines have lost the last two matchups vs. the Spartans while under new head coach Rich Rod, and this has left Michigan fans thirsty for victory against their “little brother”.

Mike Valenti of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit has proposed a scenario that he feels would have to force the beginning of Wolverines having to “admit” that the Spartans are at least at the start of being in a position to be looked at as on Michigan’s level.

His scenario is as follows:
Beat Michigan for a third year in a row.
Finish the season either 9-3 or 10-2
Win in a bowl game.

In his analysis, this would be State’s way of actually not just beating Michigan, but also finishing a season successfully. With the strength of schedule (and NOT having to face Ohio State) he believes that it is very possible for State to finish with a strong win record. He did stress though, that State HAS to do all three in order for it to be deemed a successful season, as well as the beginning of new respect, or what should be new respect for the Spartans.

Sorry Mr. Valenti and all the Spartan fans, but I wholeheartedly DISAGREE.

And here is why.

First, overall Michigan has had total dominance against the Spartans in football throughout the years. Like a friend of mine said, the Spartys need to win about 32 more games against Michigan  before they can even begin this conversation! Ok, so maybe that’s a bit much, but you get the point. Michigan has 32 more wins in the series.

Secondly, does it really count when a team had to win when another team was in transition (and EVERYONE was beating them including Toledo and Appalachian State)?  I mean, Michigan has consistently had the better squad over the years, but things were bound to be different at least for a few years right? When Rich Rod took over two seasons ago though, he implemented a completely new style of football never played before in Michigan history. This open field offense is not known as BIG TEN or even Michigan type football. Not only was he implementing an entirely new style of offense, he was dong so with players that he didn’t bring to the team. In other words, it wasn’t really his ideal recruiting class. Once Rich Rod got his guy Denard in and gave him one offseason of work, the offense took off. Denard is currently the most fascinating offensive player in  college football. If he runs for 300 yards, it would be an off game. Point being , it takes TIME. I’m just not impressed with a team that can only beat Michigan when they are just plain horrible and in transition.

Thirdly (is that ok to say?) I would be more impressed if Michigan State had built up a program over time and raised their game up to Michigan’s level. Instead, Michigan fell down to State’s and now State wants to take some sort of credit. Albeit, State is better this season than they have been over the last 3 years at least I believe (we will see for certain as the season plays on) and part of being a good or great team is taking advantage of another teams weaknesses and capitalizing on them. But Michigan has been less than just weak the last couple of seasons. Teams had better beat them, because if you LOST to Michigan the last couple of years it was more of an embarrassment considering their rankings offensively and defensively. You SHOULD have beat Michigan. In my opinion, Michigan should have been an underdog for the last three years since a new coach and new system and recruiting class had to be implemented.

Even if State wins this year, I still find no valid reasons to start considering State as beginning to be considered a force on Michigan’s level. In order for that to happen Stat would have to beat Ohio State Notre Dame and Penn State. They  would have to at least beat Michigan in a year when skill wise the teams are more equal. You have to give Rich Rod a year, ideally two to get his defense at least serviceable. Right now, his defense is abysmal and might as well be a big empty space on the field. Anybody can throw on Michigan. In fact, they can run too. States offense is so balanced that Michigan has no choice but to pick the pass or the run and totally dedicate to it and hope for the best with the rest because there is no way Michigan can handle both. My predication for Michigan to have a successful year is that they will have to win every game 80-75 because they can’t stop anything so far. Also, State will be the first defense that Michigan and Denard Robinson face this season. This will give us a more clear idea of whether this offensive dominance can really hold up or was it all for show against junior varsity type talent so far this season.

I know Spartans will disagree, but if you take the emotion out of your thinking, there is just no way you can feel great about beating this Michigan team other than just for individual season bragging rights.  Just like Michigan can’t fake the funk on basketball, State can’t fake it in football. The Spartans are years away from even the beginning of possibly changing the game in Big Ten football and Michigan’s overall dominance. Give Michigan 2 more seasons to work on defense. (if Rich Rod works on defense. He is known not to focus on defense.) If State beats a seriously retooled and polished Michigan team consistently I will have to give credit where credit is due.  Until then, I just can’t go that far.

Go BLUE!!!!

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From → Controversy, Sports

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