Update: Michigan State wins, 28-14.
The Michigan-Michigan State rivalry has gradually been increasing in intensity over the last three seasons. The Spartans have won three straight in the rivalry, the first time they have done so since the 1960's. They have dominated in-state recruiting as well, keeping prize high schoolers out of Ann Arbor for the duration of the Rich Rodriguez era. MSU's reign of dominance appears to be in jeopardy, however, with a Brady Hoke-led Michigan squad having turned the tide in recruiting, and now potentially on the field as well.
It's hate with a long history behind it, the type of history only the best of rivalries can claim, one that folds in and out of athletics, academia, and other bad blood*. A story with likeable good guys, and hate-able villains, that takes the whole rivalry one step further for fans of the green and white (and black and bronze).
On the field, the Spartans are led defensively by Jerel Worthy and his freaky Spartan-crushing-Wolverine tattoo. Worthy has been the catalyst of one of the B1G's best defenses, especially against the run. The Spartans lead the conference giving up just 64 yards per game on the ground, and 173 yards per game total. Offensively, the Spartans have plenty of playmakers among quarterback Kirk Cousins, running backs Edwin Baker and Le'Veon Bell, and wideouts B.J. Cunningham and Keshawn Martin. The offensive line is absolute patchwork, however, accounting for much of MSU's struggles on the ground this season.
The Wolverines' offense begins and ends with Denard Robinson, who has been compared by some to a beautiful heartache. He had his struggles in the first half against Northwestern last week, but went 8-for-10 passing in the second to cap yet another phenomenal performance, this time accounting for 454 total yards and four touchdowns (as well as three interceptions). Michigan's defense, under the tutelage of defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, picked things up in the second half, blanking the Wildcats after giving up 24 points in the first half.
Whoever wins this game assumes full control of their destiny in the Legends Division, but the game means much more than that. For Michigan, a win is yet another sign that the program is back on its way to the top. For Michigan State, it means another full year of bragging rights after decades of being "Little Brother."
Game date, time: 12:00 P.M. ET, Saturday, October 15
Location: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
TV channel: ESPN/ESPN 3
Spread: Michigan State favored by 2
Series history: Michigan leads, 67-31-5
For further reading, news, discussion and more, visit Michigan Wolverines blog Maize 'n Brew and Michigan State Spartans blog The Only Colors. Here's this week's college football TV schedule, and stay tuned to SB Nation's college football news hub for more.