Bragging rights are up for grabs today as storied rivals Indiana and Michigan State do battle for the Old Brass Spittoon. (Tongue firmly in cheek).
The only game I attended last year was the final home game, when the Spartans dismantled the Hoosiers 55-3. I worry that today's game could be closer, despite Indiana's wretched defense.
There are only a few MSU/Indiana football games that stand out in my memory. My freshman year at MSU in '86, the Hoosiers upset the Spartans in what was a litany of close and extremely disappointing losses for that year's team. The following season, the Spartans clinched the Big Ten title and a trip to the Rose Bowl by defeating Indiana 27-3.
One of the biggest regrets of my college career (if not my life) is that I didn't purchase 1987 season tickets. I went to only two games in '87 and they were the two worst home games of the season (a 31-3 loss to Florida State, where the only consolation is that I can say I saw Deion Sanders play football as a collegian--and a 14-14 tie with Illinois in a chilly Homecoming drizzle. Both of these tickets I purchased from fellow students who for whatever reason where unable to use them). That year's Indiana game saw both the Spartans and Hoosiers amazingly playing for the conference title, and Lorenzo White famously ran the ball 56 times for 292 yards in leading MSU to the win. I watched the game in someone's room at Shaw Hall. As soon as the game was over, I walked directly to Spartan Stadium, entered the stadium through the tunnel (which was amazingly open, perhaps as a safety valve for the flood of revelers who had poured onto the field). I walked onto the artificial turf and joined in with the delirious MSU fans. By then, the celebrants were beginning to disperse, and the ones remaining weren't quite sure what to do with themselves, and were probably pondering which local drinking establishment to relocate their revelry. The most vivid memory I have from that evening is how squishy the artificial turf felt under my feet. I wasn't expecting that.
This year's Indiana game has very little at stake. The Hoosiers are simply trying to win a Big Ten game, which is something they have not done in a few years, and the Spartans want to get their once promising season back on track. I fear that the combination of Indiana's Homecoming, their desperation to get a win, and MSU's probable depression after the OSU loss could equal a bad Saturday for the Spartans, but that may simply be my usual "glass-is-half-empty" outlook on MSU football.