The Whisper-Quiet Rivalry
By: Eric Thomas
The date has been marked on the calendar for months and no one seems to notice. Michigan v MSU is an event writ large for many people. Whenever someone writes a list of “You know you’re from Michigan if…” the Battle for the Paul Bunyan trophy is always included.
The Tigers have managed to completely overshadow that. It didn’t last year. The Tigers were in the ALCS last year battling the Rangers. So why is this year so different?
Lets keep in mind that the ALCS last year felt far more futile. The Tigers were up against an opponent that seemed insurmountable, even though the series went to six games. This year was far more fun. Sweeping any opponent on the way to the World Series can jazz up any fan base. Sweeping the Yankees made it just that much sweeter.
Plus, the fan bases of both schools seem demoralized. There are going to be some Michigan fans that take issue with me saying this. Blue is undefeated in the Big Ten and looks to have an improved defense from last year. The offense still has Denard Robinson, but Junior Hemmingway’s absence looms large. But there are many Wolverine backers, especially the chirpy ones, who are largely front-runners. They cheer for teams because they’re good. Getting embarrassed on national television to start the season wards off many of the front-runners. By the way, if you think I am saying that’s a bad thing, I’m not. Its nice to have a college football season where the truly deluded stay quiet.
MSU’s season has been a gut punch. The loss to Notre Dame was embarrassing. MSU didn’t even look like they belonged on the same field. Ohio State was deflating. But those were nothing in comparison to how they looked against Iowa. I am still a big believer in Bell, and the defense, but the receivers and the offensive line have proven to be a total disappointment. This team was supposed to be a lot better. They are pretty far from the contenders that I thought they were.
I’m going to pick Blue, the same as I did in the preseason. The Bunyan trophy game is always awesome, but this year is going to be even better. Both teams are desperate for a win, and they are going to fight like hungry dogs. MSU is desperate to stop the slide, while Blue is desperate for a win over MSU, something they haven’t done since I was in my 20s.
So even though it hasn’t gotten the hype that it usually gets, it’s still going to be classic. Blue stands poised to reclaim the mantle of best football program in the state. MSU fans may take issue with this, but that’s why we play the game. The rivalry’s eternal question is “Which team is better?” and they settle it on the field. There are very few things in life that are fair, but this is one of them.
If nothing else, it gives us something to watch while we wait for the World Series.