My dad's buddies all went to MSU. My father, feeling the need to play the role of spoiler in their get-togethers, started to cheer for UM. Like his love for all of Detroit's pro teams (and that's not a reference to Ed Martin, unless you want it to be. Which I do.), that love spread to me, and I saw soon cheering for Desmond Howard, Tim Biakabatuka, the
My visit to Ann Arbor that November of my senior year was what I expected. The sky was gloomy, I viewed all the buildings, went inside a few, had lunch at Zingerman's with my Dad, and then headed home. A few weeks later, I received my acceptance letter for Michigan, and for some reason...I didn't turn it in immediately. I'm still not sure why to this day. I'm not implying this story is going to take a supernatural turn, I attribute my tardiness more to the laziness that creeps into a high school senior's life exponentially during the year.
In February, I received an invitation from MSU to attend the Alumni Distinguished Scholarship competition. I accepted, mainly for the fact that I wanted a day off from school (once again, laziness creeping up on me). My parents drove me down to East Lansing and dropped me off at the Kellogg center to check in while they gallivanted around the Capital area for a day and a night. The first course of action was a bus tour of campus, and I was immediately struck by its beauty. The dorms of North Circle had a gothic charm like nothing I'd ever seen, and there were trees everywhere. During the evening, all the invitees were free to talk amongst themselves, and I found the people were just as amazing as the campus - funny, laid-back, and all-around awesome. I woke up in the morning, took the strangest test I'd ever taken in my life (if you've ever taken a test that includes Calculus, Greek and Roman Architecture, Literature Intrepretation and Biology on a single test, let me know), and headed for home. The main thought running through my head was this: "I had a great time at MSU, it's just too bad I won't be going there."
Fast forward a month and a half later. I had done so well in the competition that I had a full tuition scholarship offer to MSU. I thought about the experiences I had with all the people, the beauty of the campus, and the opportunities there...and I decided to attend MSU. I realized that, yes, U of M had the greater academic reputation, but I felt I would be happiest at MSU, and since my future plans at that point in time were to enter medical school, I felt that where I attended school for my undergraduate studies had little credence compared to my academic results. I also wanted to go to a school where I could see my classmates as people who would help me in my studies, rather than attend a school with mostly overachievers, hellbent on going to the best graduate school or landing the best job at the expense of their classmates. That was my impression about some Michigan students at the time, and I know that's not true for all students there, I didn't want to be in that type of environment for four years.
I instantly became a Spartan fan. I became well-versed in comebacks (both made by and on the Spartans) in football. I was delirious at State's Elite Eight run in 2003, overjoyed at the 2005 Final Four Run, and despondent in early defeats in '04 and 06. The Wolverine fans were always there, laughing in our faces at our football defeats, ignoring their basketball team like a caged inbred child in the basement, chiding Tom Izzo for not winning a Big Ten title while going to a Final Four, and, above all, personifying arrogance at every turn, with most of them countering every loss this year with a reference to the teams of the past, or cautioning us about how good they'll be in the future, thanks to their coach.
Which brings us to this Saturday. The gap between Michigan State and Michigan's football teams in a season has never been so heavily tilted for the Green and White. Michigan is becoming intimate with all facets of the term "rebuilding year", while Michigan State is trying to shake off the reputation of collapses that has plagued them in the past. All the while, Michigan fans have pointed to the past six games of this rivalry, a distraction meant to take their minds off the skidmark of a record they have right now. During this lashing I, as an MSU fan, have been quiet, mainly because this rivalry has been one sided for the past six years. They're pointing to history as the reason why they'll win this game, mainly because all the other reasons (you know, the one that involve play on the field) lack merit. While they're pointing to all the past seasons as cases in point of collapse, I'm pointing to the Purdue and Penn State games of last year and cultivating that seed of hope.
As for the game itself: It seems like some blogs are pointing to the Cal and OSU games as cases where Ringer was stopped, and wins resulted. The reason why Ringer was stopped was because the game plan had to change, as MSU was trailing big in both of those games at one point. What's the possibility UM scores enough points to force that strategy? I'm guessing small. MSU wins the turnover battle, runs the same old gameplan, and wins in Ann Arbor.
Michigan State 27, Michigan 13.