Rivalry games mean everything for some team’s seasons. In the case of the Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans, the rivalry means bragging rights for a year and talks of who owns the state now. While Michigan might play the rivalry down as they refer to the Spartans as ‘little brothers’ — or at least one infamous running back did a few years back — both teams know this matchup means more than the Wolverines give it credit for.
Sure Michigan leads the all-time series that started in 1898 by a wide margin, 68-32-5, but the Wolverines and Spartans have been much more even since 1950. In fact, from 1898-1949, the Wolverines were 33-6-3 against the Spartans, providing the wide margin in the series record that you see today. Since 1950, they are 35-26-2 against Michigan State, leading the Paul Bunyan Trophy series, started in 1953, by just 12 wins.
Since it was just a short while ago that Michigan running back Mike Hart called Michigan State the little brother of the Wolverines, it’s only right that another Michigan running back should do the same. Fitzgerald Toussaint is that guy and he apparently believes that he has the right to call the Spartans his little brother.
“We labeled them as a little brother. And, you know the little brother always want to prove themselves and try to beat up the big brother one day. I think they really take offense to that.” -Fitzgerald Toussaint
His predecessors called the Spartans little brother so he has to now, too? Makes sense. How about the fact that Michigan State is 2-1 since the running back has been at Michigan? Or how about the fact that Michigan State is 4-1 in the past five games, including four straight from 2008-11.
What happened right before Michigan State went on the win-streak? Hart called the Spartans ‘little brother’ and then disappeared from football forever. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Toussaint will suffer the same fate and words like these tend to fuel teams.
This was not a good move by Toussaint and his teammates, Brady Hoke and Michigan fans will agree he should of said nothing at all and let his play speak for itself. However, Mark Dantonio and Connor Cook are happy he just added fuel to the fire.
“Pride comes before the fall.” -Mark Dantonio following Hart’s comments
Whether the Wolverines want to admit it or not, this is a huge rivalry.