Another year, another MSU vs. U-of-M match up – not to mention another year that the Paul Bunyan trophy will reside in East Lansing.
In 2007, shortly after the Spartans fell to the Wolverines at home, MSU head coach Mark Dantonio famously said in a press conference that “pride comes before the fall,” citing a proverb from the King James version of the Bible. This all came after U-of-M running back Mike Hart referred to MSU as “little brother,” a term that has stuck despite not much evidence to back up such a claim.
This year, on Oct. 7, MSU took a trip to Michigan Stadium. The Big House was packed for what would be a rainy night. Then-No. 7 Michigan was set up to beat the unranked MSU Spartans on their own turf. After some quick scoring, Michiganders of all creeds found the Spartans up 7-3. Only one touchdown for each Michigan State and Michigan would follow for additional scores.
Michigan backup quarterback John O’Korn threw three interceptions, which added to the five total turnovers committed by the Wolverines. Michigan State responded by not turning the ball over once.
The Wolverines led in nearly every stat line except for three – rushing, sacks and, of course, turnovers. O’Korn was sacked four times while MSU’s Brian Lewerke wasn’t sacked throughout the entire game.
Sure, Michigan showcased more total yards, more first downs, more passing yards and more time of possession. But sometimes, football isn’t always about “playing better.” Sometimes, football, or sports in general, are about not committing errors. That is precisely why MSU won that football game.
So, in short, MSU has yet another win against a top- 10-ranked Michigan team. The major upset brings the recent count to eight wins for the Sparties in the past 10 matchups. Pretty hard to keep calling a team little brother after going 2-8 in the decade following the incident when you gave that team said nickname, right?
Oh, sure, cite injuries, poor weather or even the illegitimacy of the Michigan State Miracle that took place two years ago. But when it comes down to it, there’s something about the results of the matchup that reject any claim of MSU being “little brother.”
The timing of all this is curious, also. 2015 rolls around, and all of Ann Arbor bows down to their new head coach, Jim Harbaugh. The hype surrounding U-of-M football goes wild, and “little brother” makes its way around again. However, U-of-M fans might want to take a closer look at their hero before kissing his feet.
As is circulating its way around the sports world, a comparison of Harbaugh’s first 31 games at U-of-M and former head coach Brady Hoke’s first 31 games is gaining in popularity, and for good reason.
Through their first 31 games, each coach has an identical overall record of 24-7. Each coach went 1-1 in their first bowl games. The two biggest statistical differences? Hoke had two second-place finishes in the Big 10 East in his first two years, but Harbaugh has two third-place finishes. Hoke went 4-3 against rivals Michigan State and Ohio State, while Harbaugh currently sits 1-4 in that category, having yet to play a good Ohio State team this season.
Yes, I realize that Harbaugh may have had harder schedules in his first 31 games than Hoke, but regardless, there’s definitely something to be said about those stats. I also want to say that I believe Michigan is going to get better from here. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Wolverines are featured in an NCAA playoff game in the next few years.
However, there’s a fair argument that Harbaugh absolutely still has to prove himself. Take this point: Jim Harbaugh is a nationally iconic quarterback, having a successful career at Michigan and in the NFL, both as a player and a coach. So, with that being said, why has it proven so difficult for Harbaugh to recruit a lead quarterback that is something more than Wilton Speight or John O’Korn? Shouldn’t that be the last position he needs to worry about for recruitment? Something to be said there if you ask me.
I’m not sure what is going to happen to either Michigan or Michigan State throughout the rest of this season. What I can say, however, is that the win was a huge re-boost for MSU and a bit of a reality check for U-of-M.
Pride did come to Michigan, and so did the fall. The question we now have to answer is this: Just when is Michigan going to get back up?