Kind of a big deal

Green and white vs. maize and blue, Spartans vs. Wolverines, and U of M vs. MSU.

If you live in Michigan or have any ties at all to the Great Lakes State, you already know the importance of the Michigan-Michigan State football game.

Despite the fact our very own Bulldogs are on a five-game winning streak, the only football question I heard all week was, “You picking Michigan or State?”

Through my years of growing up in Michigan, I was introduced to the rivalry at an early age. I have seen the emotion and sometimes the downright hatred the game produces between the two fan bases.

While I sit toward the middle of the two (weak answer, I know), I had a moment this weekend where I fully realized just how the rivalry is embedded in our state’s identity.

As I sat in the press box at our homecoming game this weekend, the constant chatter between the sports writers and the other visitors was all about the game taking place in Ann Arbor.

Once the game kicked off during halftime of the Ferris game, everyone in the room huddled around the only television in the room to see the opening quarter. As the Ferris game got back to action, everyone hurried back to their seats but let a wandering eye drift toward the television to keep up on the score.

When the Ferris game ended, the media sat around a table waiting for the players and Coach Jeff Pierce to come up to the press box for the post-game interview session.

As junior quarterback Tom Schneider made his way to the microphone after a fifth-straight victory, he takes a quick glance at the television around the corner and asks, “What’s the score? Is Michigan winning?”

That just goes to show how much the rivalry affects our state. You’ve got a player from a Division II team that just won its homecoming game, is coming off a disastrous 1-10 season and is on its first five-game winning streak since 2004, and all he wants to know is who is winning the Michigan-Michigan State game.

So while it may not be Yankees vs. Red Sox or North Carolina vs. Duke, the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry is a tradition that has turned into something of importance for our fair state.

While you may root for one side over the other, at least we’ll get to see a burning car on one of the campuses, and that’s always a priceless thing to see on the nightly news. n