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Michigan Sibling Rivalry: About “Little Brother”

Dr. Billi Gordon PicTechnically, sports rivalries are the offspring of competition and ritualism, e.g., the Michigan/OSU Rivalry.  It is always the last regular season game for both teams. Both teams have a clock in their locker rooms counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds to the game.

Like all things earthly, rituals evolve.  For example, Brady Hoke refers to Ohio State as simply “Ohio”, which has caught on with Wolverines like “that team up north” did with Ohio. Hoke also refuses to shake the Ohio coach’s hand, increasing rivalry animosity.  That or he’s just concerned his ring might be stolen and pawned.

Consistently playing yearly for decades, lays the foundation for a good rivalry, but that’s not enough. Geographical proximity or similarity often contributes to a rivalry, but that’s not enough either. A classic rivalry results from similarity compounded by basic differences.  For example with Michigan and Ohio State the similarities are proximity, conference membership and team quality.  The intrinsic differences primarily lie in institutional integrity and academic excellence; Michigan has a rich tradition in both and Ohio State has none in either.

There is also a disparity in moral turpitude between Ann Arbor and Columbus. When Michigan wins in Columbus, Buckeyes burn things in the street and vandalize cars with Michigan license plates.  When the OSU wins in Ann Arbor, there is definitely remorse, but it does not escalate to criminal behavior. Those differences are the essence of the rivalry: good vs. evil, future physician vs. future felon, class vs. trash.

Schools often have more than one rivalry, raising the question: why isn’t the rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State greater? The two teams first played in 1898 and have met almost every year since 1910. The game became a conference rivalry when Michigan State joined the Big Ten in 1950; the history exists.

The two schools are physically closer to each other than they are to any other Big Ten School.  Additionally, the disparity in academic excellence and institutional integrity is as great between Michigan and MSU as it is between Michigan and Ohio State.  For all intents and purposes Michigan State is just Ohio State in a gaudy green with a slightly tackier stadium.

The reason is probably because Michigan has dominated the competition. The Wolverines lead the series 68–32–5. The series record for the Paul Bunyan Trophy is 35–23–2 in favor of Michigan. The trophy wasn’t added to the rivalry until Michigan State became a full member of the Big Ten in 1953, at which point Michigan led the series, 33–9–3.

A home-and-home series did not begin until the 1958 season. Through the 1957 season, the game was played in Ann Arbor 44 times compared to only 6 times in East Lansing.

At the start of the trophy game series, the Spartans dominated the series for two decades.  Between 1950 and 1969, MSU was 14–4–2 against Michigan. Then along came Bo Schemblechler in 1969. He was having none of that. The Wolverines ruled for the next 40 years.  They were 30–8 against the Spartans from 1970 to 2007.

Then MSU hired Mark Dantonio in 2007 and have dominated since, winning four of the last six meetings. Michigan holds the longest winning streak at fourteen (1916–29). MSU has had four four-game winning streaks.  The most recent was from 2008–11. Since 1950, the series rivalry stands at 35-27-2 in favor of U-M.

That having been said, the tradition of Michigan football is about dominance.  The Wolverines have not dominated the Spartans recently.   That is why it is crucial that the Wolverines re-establish dominance over the Spartans.  “It’s about bragging rights,” Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon said.   “It’s a big rivalry game to us,” Devin Gardner said. “After we won the game (2011), they didn’t really want to shake our hands, and so I find that as a sign of disrespect,” Calhoun, one of the stars of the MSU defense said.

The truth is MSU is not respectable. They deliberately try to injure players, play with a prison riot mentality and their coach has the demeanor of a constipated ape with a thorn in his paw. So it’s hard to get on that train.  This is all the more reason winning this game is crucial.

Michigan needs to silence Michigan State once and for all, and move on to more important business such as building our multi-national championship teams.   HAIL!

Dr. Billi Gordon

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  • Thinkbeforeyoublab

    Idiot. Such a Homer its ridiculous. You keep living in the ancient past, it’s all you have left to hang your hat on. MSU has been dominant, and after Saturday it will be an 5-5 split over the recent decade, with MSU 5 of last 6. Throw any garbage around that you want, it’s your blog, but at least call it what it really is, MSU is the better football program currently, period.

    • Billi Gordon

      A rivalry is based on the two teams entire playing history, not one decade. The quality of a program is as well. MSU is going to have to win a lot of games to approach the modicum of success Michigan enjoys, end of story. And it is not going to happen during your life or mine. If MSU is the better football program “currently” then why is the Paul Bunyan Trophy in Ann Arbor? So excuse me, but WHO is living in the past? You do know the definition of current? Also, why is Michigan CURRENTLY ranked higher in every poll? You’re manipulating the litmus to support your opinion. I am using the standard litmus used by college football, the NCAA, and all of the polls, BTW before you start calling people idiots, you might want to check your grammar.

      • umGargamel

        Dear Billidiot,

        (BTW, it’s spelled Billy, tell your parents they had bad grammar)

        The proof is in the pudding. You wouldn’t have written this piece if you didn’t have passion for the MSU rivalry. It reads more like a fan who is scared of what might happen to his over ranked team this Saturday. My prediction is a good ol’ fashion man handling like we’ve seen 4 times in the last 5 years. Face it, State’s Defense is going to beat Um’s Offense to a pulp and we all know your D is Swiss cheese.

        “A rivalry is based on the two teams entire playing history, not one decade. The quality of a program is as well”

        Quite possibly the dumbest comment I’ve read in years. Rivalries are born from dislike and competitiveness, not just time. Take any sport, with your limited logic, Magic vs. Bird wasn’t a rivalry? Pistons vs. Celtics/Bulls/Lakers not a rivalry? Ali vs. Frazier not a rivalry? In fact, your comment is so stupid that you fail to realize 2 sports entities don’t even need to face each other to be a rivalry, for example take Mayweather vs. Paquiao, a rivalry before a fight that hasn’t even happened. In other words, you must have nipped your way into Um on the low end of the admission scale. Not impressed.

        Try this…it’s called zeitgeist(big word)- spirit of the times. It trumps wins that happened before African Americans were playing, when all of the great state of Michigan looked like Mackinac Island.

        Get a life…idiot.

        Victory For MSU!

        • you’restupid

          Magic vs Bird, PIstons vs celtics/bulls/lakers WAS a rivalry, so was Ali vs Frazier. What is your point? You don’t want to use time but then you go right back to using time in your in the last decade comment. If you want to say time is of no consequence… then my friend U of M lost a game against msu in the past 23 months. Would you agree that is a true statement. Michigan’s defense is young. You say it’s full of holes… that is only try if you have an offense that can find said “holes”. Oh I do have a serious question for you. Being a state fan… does it get old hearing the phrase “can you super size that?”

          • thinkbeforeyoublab

            you’restupid is a great name for you. Did you graduate from UofM? Or any college for that matter? Don’t lie to save face. The only time we’d here that question is if we owned the McDonald’s and it would be from an UofM fan that couldn’t afford to eat anywhere else. Funny how McDonald’s are usually right next to Wal-Mart’s, where YOU get your gear from…serious question back to you…does it ever get old saying “Welcome to Wal-Mart?”

          • Billi Gordon

            I am doctor, and I graduated from U of M and did my post doc from The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Please stop mistaking me for someone who cares what you think.

        • Billi Gordon

          I got a life. I am doctor, I specialize in the brain, live on the beach in Los Angeles. I’m a U of M graduate (with honors), an alumni cheerleader, and did my post doc at The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Please stop mistaking me for someone who cares what you think. African Americans were playing at MIchigan since the 1800’s.

        • Billi Gordon

          BTW… there is no “low end” of the admission scale at Michigan… I scored in the upper 2% in the nation on my NMSQT, SATs, ACTs, graduated from Michigan with a 3.87, and got 37 on my MCAT, how did you do? And where’d you go to school? And what do you do, besides get emotional and call people names when the facts offend you?

  • firmbeliever

    This is the biggest bunch of garbage. It is that arrogance that gets you beat every time. You can’t beat MSU in football or basketball.

    • Billi Gordon

      68-33-5 the facts disagree.

  • Leah Kroll

    Another excellent article Doc. Good observation that Moo U plays extremely dirty when they are losing…in one game this season they had over 100 yards of penalties for personal fouls, etc. And Dantonio acts mad at the players when he really condones it…no respect for that.

    • Billi Gordon

      Exactly, and that is why there is nothing to respect about MSU, even when they win… because at the end of the day, they are still MSU.

  • Rtminc

    Wondering about your thoughts today…convinced?

    • Billi Gordon

      I am convinced that they dominated the game on Saturday, and that they are a good team. But the facts remain, Michigan leads the series 68-33-5, and I would much rather be a Michigan grad than a MSU grad, any day… but that has more to do with the value of one’s degree (I’m a doctor) Good defense, and the Spartans are good. Too bad they weren’t as good with Notre Dame. - May the Hoke be with you! © January 11th, 2011
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