By Christy Strawser, digital director
DETROIT (CBS Detroit) Michigan State University has Sparty, a fun-loving green warrior with a cute skirt and an oversize head; the University of Michigan has its wolverine, a tiny snarling woodland creature with beady eyes and a puffy tail.
And that’s just one of the many differences between two of the Midwest’s most storied universities as they face off this weekend in a battle to the death — oh no, wait, it’s a football game, not “Hunger Games.” But a lot of people seem to care about it like the lives of their firstborn depend on it.
There’s face painting, trash talking, even family disownment in some cases.
But which fan deserves more bragging rights? Here’s a rundown of their most precious possessions record-wise, their reputation makers and breakers — so you can decide.
The two teams started playing each other in 1910, and it became a conference rivalry in 1950. Michigan leads the series overall 68–32–5. But the Spartans lead U-M 4-2 in the last six meetings.
Michigan State fans have been known to set fire to things when their team loses, albeit it’s usually the basketball team. Michigan’s Blake Countess recently revealed when they pull up in the bus, Sparty fans tend to throw things at them.
Then there’s this: USA Today recently ranked MSU’s fan base at No. 5 on its “Misery Index,” which gauges how happy fans are at any given moment.
On U-M’s side, there’s always a question about how many fans actually attended the university or even know someone who did. You can tell the difference by their footwear — because Walmart doesn’t sell penny loafers.
Michigan plays in the Big House, which has a capacity of 109,901 fans, who are usually crammed cheek to jowl in tiny blue seats. As the largest football stadium in the country, it’s also considered one of the most well-known college football facilities in the United States.
Spartan Stadium in East Lansing opened in 1923 and seats 75,005 fans. The team has won 69 percent of the games played at home.
This time, U-M is going to State’s house. It’s unknown who will boss the other around.
U-M is a better school — come on, you know it, stop pretending. However, most Michiganders consider MSU a more fun-spirited school. Sparty on!
Times Higher Education, a widely-used London ranking service, put U-M at 20th on its list of best American colleges in the world earlier this month; MSU climbed from 94th to 83rd. The California Institute of Technology was first, Harvard and Oxford tied for second. Stanford was in fourth place.
Hillary Clinton called Michigan the “Harvard of the Midwest” in a speech. Some in Ann Arbor responded by calling Harvard the Michigan of the East Coast.
On the other side, acclaimed award-winning author Tom McGuane, a MSU grad, has been quoted as saying “writers go to State and critics go to Michigan.”