By The Collegiate Sports Staff
With “Hate Week” beginning shortly after the Lions’ first quarter on Sunday, the game that divides neighbors, friendships and families is only four days away.
Former Michigan great Jim Harbaugh returns home from the NFL to save his alma mater, while the never happy, always scowling, Mark Dantonio, has pushed Michigan State into the national forefront.
When Michigan and Michigan State play, it isn’t simply another Saturday. This is a Saturday that can provide a year’s worth of happiness or a year’s worth of heartbreak. This is a game that separates households. A game that divides the entire state in two.
It’s Michigan vs Michigan State.
Here are The Collegiate Staff’s picks for this year’s game.
The Michigan defense hasn’t given up a single point in three-straight games, outscoring opponents 97-0 in that span. With each passing week, Michigan’s offense looks better and better as Jake Rudock, former Iowa quarterback, gets more comfortable at the helm. Michigan State hasn’t looked the same since losing Pat Narduzzi. There was an expected drop off, but not to this magnitude. State’s Connor Cook is the better quarterback, but will he have the time to throw?
Michigan 28, Michigan State 13
It has been years since the Big House has seen a game of this magnitude, and I think all of Michigan is ready for 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. Michigan has looked great through the first six weeks, at 5-1, with three straight shutouts including wins over two ranked teams in BYU and Northwestern. The only blemish looks like a quality loss vs a playoff contender in Utah. MSU meanwhile has survived multiple weeks against teams that on paper shouldn’t be keeping up, and the win over Oregon doesn’t look as good with its 3-3 record. Coach Jim Harbaugh has this program back earlier than anyone expected, and now with more momentum than arguably any team in college football. Injury problems for Michigan State and this game being in Ann Arbor, I see Michigan outplaying the spread and winning by a larger margin.
Michigan 24, Michigan State 10
Michigan is playing some of its best football all year. They shutout the past three opponents and that is something the Spartan’s offense, as well as defense, need to consider for this game. Coach Jim Harbaugh has taken this program and put new life into it. On the other hand, the Spartans haven’t played at their peak since the first half of the Oregon game. That win over the Ducks was a quality win and not some mirage that some make it out to be. Teams can fluctuate throughout the season. Some getting better, like Michigan, and others not so much, like Oregon. The Spartans have been rattled with injuries to their secondary, offensive line, and running back, playing without much emotion throughout the season. They’ve had a lot of things not go their way, and that can shake a team’s confidence and lower its level of play. Somehow they’ve managed to go undefeated so far, and I don’t think the Spartans have any intention of breaking that streak. I think that the Wolverines will come ready to play, that’s clear, but the real question is “How well is State going to play?” The things that they need to focus on, as well as playing hard-hitting football, is winning the turnover battle and avoiding catastrophe on special teams.
Michigan State 28, Michigan 24