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November 1, 2013

Staff Predictions: Michigan at Michigan State

We all (well - those under 40, so many of y'all) know what the fox says now - plenty of stupid, incoherent blather, like an MSU student at a party or couch burning ceremony. But what does a Wolverine say when backed into a corner, a six-point underdog to little brother?

First things first - relax, Sparty. It's rivalry week, and there are supposed to be some barbs traded. Unfortunately, most will take to the message boards with their torches and pitchforks (and manure spreaders, hoes and spades) at the ready.

It's a 'bad rivalry,' former MSU head coach Bobby Williams once said, and many have gotten to see it first hand. Michigan vs. Michigan State brings out the worst in those in green whether they're winning or losing, no matter the sport.

And now that they feel they have the upper hand, the chirping has been incessant. You'd think the Wolverines were facing the 1985 Chicago Bears defense given how little respect a 42.4 PPG offense has been given this week. Yes, MSU's gang of green deserves credit for its showing to date, but this will be the biggest test the Spartans' defense has faced all year.

So what does the Wolverine say?

Not a thing when all is right with the world. Simply wins, pats little bro' on the head and goes back about his business. We'll see if order has been restored this year or if Michigan fans have to wait a bit longer to enjoy the sound of silence in the days following the game.

Last week we had a bye, and we have no clue who won the previous week. This week's winner receives the right to let his little office brothers know how superior he is, though we expect him to just smile and nod, go about his business in preparing for Ohio State week.

The picks:

Chris Balas: Remember that feeling of resignation when banged up teams in 2005 and 2007 traveled to East Lansing to face a team frothing at the mouth? This year's team is healthier, but there's still that same sense.

Amazing how gut feelings can change over the course of the season. Through five games, many wondered if MSU would be able to score three on the Wolverines. Now the same people are predicting a Michigan State blowout.

This one seems like a logical loss. Picked it as such a few days ago. And yet, if Devin Gardner protects the ball -

Michigan 20, Michigan State 16


John Borton: Michigan would love the go back to the days of ignoring Michigan State, for all but one week per year. The Spartans, latched onto the lower leg like a frothing pit bull, are growling out an "Uh-uh." And the feeling around the state and nation appears to be that the Wolverines have no chance this time around.

Michigan 20, Michigan State 17


Michael Spath: When the season began, I had this as a win for Michigan, knowing Jake Ryan would be back and the Wolverines would be rested and motivated coming off a bye. But I don't see it largely because I have yet to see one modicum of evidence that this team will be able to match the Spartans physically and with the intensity that MSU brings to this rivalry.

Michigan State 24, Michigan 17


Andy Reid: They're in your workplaces, friend circles, neighborhoods - even your families. Spartans and Wolverines just can't escape each other. There's a personal side to this rivalry that can get intense and uncomfortable, and that's why it's so painful to lose one.

Little brother, big brother: if that's the case, then Michigan and Michigan State are family, however estranged they may be.

The Spartans are enjoying unprecedented success under Mark Dantonio, and they better enjoy it while it lasts, because the Wolverines are very close to being back on top of the Big Ten.

Michigan State 13, Michigan 10


Tim Sullivan: Michigan and Michigan State are more similar this year than a lot of U-M fans want to give their own team credit for. Both teams have very strong defenses, and offenses with serious flaws. The main difference comes from the nature of those flaws on the offensive side of the ball. Michigan State's offense is consistent - but not consistently good - whereas Michigan's can vary wildly from raucous success to singlehandedly losing the game.

In Spartan Stadium, against a strong defense, Michigan's options are to execute their (unsuccessful) gameplan against Penn State and slowly bleed to death, or come out guns blazing which can swing wildly in either direction. A defensive touchdown for MSU is the difference.

Michigan State 17, Michigan 14


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