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In Ann Arbor in 1817, the University of Michigan was founded. In 1855, the University of Michigan lost a bid for a new agricultural school. A professor even stated a new school “cannot be more than a fifth-rate affair”. A little over an hour away on February 12, 1855, Michigan State University was founded, and by 1862 was the nation’s premier land-grant school proving that professor wrong. Thus, the rivalry began.

The football rivalry began in Ann Arbor on October 12, 1898 where Michigan won 39-0. In 1902, Michigan was dubbed the “point-a-minute” team and defeated State 119-0, however, State did hold Michigan on downs once. 1908 held the first rivalry game in East Lansing… and the first tie. On October 18, 1913, State won for the first time 12-7 and again in 1915 24-0! In 1934 at Ann Arbor, State thwarted Michigan’s twenty-two game undefeated streak 16-0.

In 1947, State’s new coach “Biggie” Munn (who had been an assistant coach at Michigan) made his debut at one of the first televised football games in the State of Michigan where Michigan crushed State 55-0. However, in 1950-1953, State won four consecutive games against Michigan!

The Paul Bunyan Trophy was created in 1953 to go to the winner of the big rivalry game and, of course, State won. A big highlight in the 50’s (1956), ranked teams State (2) and Michigan (5) had a combined ranking that is the highest in series history. After a scoreless first half, State set up a 20-yard field goal and then recovered a fumble in the fourth, leading to a touchdown with a final score of 9-0.

Another amazing game was in 1990, which was designated the “No. One vs. No. One” game where Michigan came into the game ranked number one. However, with six seconds left, a crazy thrown football led to a touchdown leaving the score 28-27 State. Michigan elected for the two-point conversion to win, but the pass was incomplete. This play is a bit controversial because of a possible interference on State’s part.

The 2007 “little brother” game marked Michigan’s sixth straight win. The game is titled this because the Michigan running back referred to State as Michigan’s “little brother”. He stated, “I thought it was funny. They got excited. Sometimes you get your little brother excited when you’re playing basketball, and you let him get the lead, and then you come back and take it back.” To which, Mark Dantonio (State’s former coach) stated, “I find a lot of the things they do amusing. They need to check themselves sometimes. But just remember, pride comes before the fall… So they want to mock us all they want to mock us, I’m telling them: it’s not over… It’s just starting.” In 2008, that promise was kept. Despite a bad call, State did win the game, 35-21, and they went on to win seven out of the eight next rivalry games.

On October 7, 2017, the teams met in Ann Arbor for the first night game. And then, in 2020, on Halloween, State won 27-24 when no one thought they would (they did lose to Rutgers…). PLUS, this win was Mel Tucker’s first year as the head coach for State! Who will win this year? Will State stay undefeated? Or will Michigan?

Hi yall!! I'm Kattiah Richardson, I am currently a student at Michigan State University double majoring in both English and Women's and Gender Studies with a minor in LGBTQ+ Studies in the hopes of becoming a professor in the future! I'm a part of a ton of student organizations on campus: Planned Parenthood Generation Action (PPGA), Pad the Mitten (PTM), Michigan State University Democrats (Dems), Spartans Empower Body Acceptance (SEBA), PP's Legislative Action Team (LAT), and, of course, Her Campus MSU. I also attend Hillel's and The Center for Survivors' events! I also love activism, reading, writing, dancing, and (badly) singing!
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