Sunday, October 26, 2014

Michigan State 35, Michigan 11

Tony Lippett enjoys the fact that Paul Bunyan will stay in East Lansing for another year (Detroit Free Press photo)

I never thought I'd live to see the day the script was so dramatically flipped in the Michigan State/Michigan rivalry.
The Spartans didn't even play an especially good game yesterday, but still managed to beat Michigan by 24 points, easily covering the 17-point spread. It's as much a commentary on how far this MSU program has come under Mark Dantonio as it is how dreadful Michigan has become since the departure of Lloyd Carr in 2007. It's not just Brady Hoke who is to blame, but Rich Rodriguez also, and one may even argue that the rot began as early as Carr's final season.
But enough about Michigan, for now.
It's was, for the most part, a fairly enjoyable day for me as a Michigan State fan and alum. In the morning, I experienced the usual butterflies and anxiety I almost always feel before a game against Michigan. I ran took some glass to the recycling center in the morning, listening to NPR in order to take a brief respite from football. When I returned, I watched the first half of Wisconsin's blowout win over Maryland. Feeling some more nervous energy, and wanting to take advantage of the sunny fall weather, I went for a five kilometer run in my neighborhood. This was reasonably successful in relaxing me.
Having cleaned myself up and grabbed a bottle of Arcadia Angler's pale ale, I settled in for the game. It was the most NON nerve-wracking MSU/UM game I've ever watched. MSU took the opening kickoff and marched right down the field to take a 7-0 lead and never looked back.
The most upset I was came late in the game with victory firmly in hand for MSU. The Wolverines had a drive in which about three different questionable calls went against the Spartans, in particular a pass interference call and a roughing the passer penalty on Taiwan Jones. I was not happy. Otherwise, it was a relatively stress-free game.
Yes, there was a little more disappointment later when, with a 28-3 lead and carving the Michigan defense with relentless precision, Cook and Langford botched a handoff exchange, fumbled, and the Wolverines recovered the ball at the Michigan State 33 yard-line. It was Michigan's only opportunity to score a touchdown with that anemic offense and they succeeded. What I hoped would be a 35-3 MSU lead ended up 28-11 (after Michigan's two-point conversion) and the Wolverines' first touchdown against the Spartans since 2011.
I had no problem, and still have no problem, with Michigan State punching in a touchdown on the final possession of the game to make the final score 35-11. I find it amusing that many Michigan fans are complaining about running up the score. Get over it. I don't recall Michigan fans apologizing for 42-0 in 1983 (Bo Schembechler sticking it to MSU after George Perles declaring he had "recruited the pants off" Michigan) or the 2002 game when Lloyd Carr, still smarting over the "clockgate" 2001 loss, relentlessly battered MSU 49-3. As far as I remember, no apologies were issued after that game. And why should there have been any? This is big time college football, not Pop Warner football.
So I am enjoying this win. I will happily listen to all and every bit of sports talk radio I can find this week and probably tune in to WTKA (the unofficial U of M sports radio station in Ann Arbor) for additional amusement. With a bye week until the big showdown with Ohio State, my revelry will continue an additional week.
Sparty, looking as much like a Brooklyn, NY hipster as Paul Bunyan, celebrates with the MSU team after the 35-11 win over Michigan.


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