Michigan–Michigan State football rivalry
|First meeting||October 12, 1898
Michigan 36, Michigan State 0
|Latest meeting||October 17, 2015
Michigan State 27, Michigan 23
|Next meeting||October 29, 2016|
|Trophy||Paul Bunyan Trophy, Michigan leads, 35–26–2|
|All-time series||Michigan leads, 68–35–5|
|Largest victory||Michigan, 119–0 (1902)|
|Longest streak||Michigan, 14 (1916–29)|
|Current streak||Michigan State, 3 (2013–present)|
The Michigan–Michigan State football rivalry is an American college football rivalry between the University of Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State University Spartans. The winner of each year's game receives the Paul Bunyan Trophy. The teams first played in 1898 and have met almost every year since 1910 (exceptions in 1943,44); the competition became a conference rivalry with Michigan State's entrance into the Big Ten Conference in 1950.
Michigan leads the series 68–35–5. The series record for the Paul Bunyan Trophy (as of 2015) is 35–26–2 for Michigan as the trophy wasn't added until Michigan State became a full member of the Big Ten in 1953, at which point Michigan led 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 and in East Lansing only 6 times. At the start of the trophy game series, Michigan State began a nearly two-decade period of dominance. From 1950 to 1969, Michigan State went 14–4–2. After the hiring of Bo Schembechler in 1969, Michigan dominated the series for the next four decades, going 30–8 from 1970 to 2007. But the pendulum swung back towards the Spartans following the hiring of Coach Mark Dantonio in 2007, with Michigan State winning seven of the last eight games. Michigan holds the longest winning streak at 14 (1916–29) and Michigan State held a winning streak of four (four times, most recently in the 2008–11 seasons) in the series history.
The game's trophy is the Paul Bunyan - Governor of Michigan Trophy, or simply, the Paul Bunyan Trophy. It stands at four-feet-tall and is a wooden statue of the legendary giant lumberjack Paul Bunyan on a five-foot base. It reflects Michigan's history as a major lumber-producing state. The trophy was first presented in 1953 by governor G. Mennen Williams to commemorate Michigan State's joining the Big Ten Conference.
When the trophy was created in 1953, Michigan athletic director and former head coach Fritz Crisler refused to take the trophy if Michigan had won the game. Michigan State won the first game for the Paul Bunyan Trophy in 1953, displaying it proudly in Jenison Fieldhouse.
The following year in 1954, the trophy was left on the field for half an hour after Michigan defeated the Spartans 33–7. "We'll find a place for the trophy," Crisler told The Michigan Daily after game. The Paul Bunyan Trophy was stored in the Michigan Stadium locker room in one of the equipment closets.
Despite winning in 1954 and 1955, Michigan did not engrave their scores onto the neglected trophy. When the Spartans won in 1956, they engraved the Wolverine victories onto the trophy.
The 1958 game was a 12–12 tie. The favored Spartans were so embarrassed that they didn't win, they originally refused to keep the trophy while Michigan refused to take the trophy. Michigan State eventually relented and kept the trophy.
Despite its rocky start, the Trophy has become an important icon for both Universities, as a symbol of football supremacy in the State of Michigan.
1898: The first game
The first game in the rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State (then known as Michigan Agricultural College) was played in Ann Arbor on October 12, 1898, with Michigan defeating the Aggies 39–0. The Detroit Free Press wrote that the game was "essentially a practice game," as Michigan played 25 different players during the game. Charles Widman scored two touchdowns and was "the strongest ground-gainer" for Michigan. In the second half, Keena also kicked a field goal from a place-kick, "the first time a Michigan eleven has ever scored in that fashion." After the 1898 shutout, Michigan sent its freshman team against Michigan Agricultural for the next three years. The two rivals have played each other more than 100 times since the inaugural meeting in 1898.
1902. Michigan's 1902 team finished 11–0, outscored opponents 644 to 12, and became known as the second of head coach Fielding H. Yost's "Point-a-Minute" teams. The Wolverines faced Michigan Agricultural on Wednesday, October 8, 1902, and defeated the Aggies 119–0. Michigan was held on downs only once in the game, and the Aggies made only three first downs. Right halfback Albert Herrnstein ran back a kickoff the length of the field and scored seven touchdowns in the game. Willie Heston and Everett Sweeley did not play in the game, and the Detroit Free Press noted: "The opinion is quite general that if Heston and Sweeley had been in the game the Buffalo record would have been beaten, but, as it was, Michigan was simply fagged out running down the field for touchdowns." The game was played in halves of 20 and 18 minutes. With 119 points in 38 minutes of play, Yost's Point-a-Minute squad averaged 3.1 points per minute against the Aggies. After the game, The Newark Advocate wrote: "Michigan has undoubtedly the fastest scoring team in the world, and the Ann Arbor boys play Yosts' 'hurry up' formations like clock work. It requires a fast team to take the ball, line up and score 119 points, even if they have no opponents in two 20 minute halves."
1908 After losing to the Wolverines in the first three games between the programs, the Aggies played the Wolverines to a scoreless tie on October 10, 1908. The game was played in front of 6,000 spectators at East Lansing's College Field, and the Aggies' fans "went wild with delight" when the game ended. In Ann Arbor, the result was met with disbelief among Michigan fans who had expected an easy win. The Detroit Free Press called it "the greatest game of football ever seen in this part of the state." The Michigan Alumnus opined that the Wolverines were outplayed and would have been defeated had it not been for Dave Allerdice repeatedly punting out of danger.
1910. On October 15, 1910, Michigan beat Michigan Agricultural 6–3 at Ferry Field. The 1910 Aggies compiled a record of 6–0 and outscored opponents 165 to 2 against teams other than the Wolverines (including a 17–0 victory over Notre Dame. Prior to the Michigan game, the M. A. C. student body adopted the slogan, "On to Michigan." After a scoreless first half, the Aggies blocked two punts in the third quarter. On the second occasion, the punt was blocked and rolled to Michigan's 12-yard line where the Aggies recovered the ball. Leon Hill kicked a field goal from the 21-yard line, and the Aggies' maintained a 3–0 into the fourth quarter. With less than five minutes left in the game, Shorty McMillan completed a pass to Stanley Borleske who ran 50 yards to the Aggies' 15-yard line. Due to a penalty, the Wolverines had five unsuccessful chances to score the touchdown after advancing to the three-yard line. Michigan then lined up for a field goal, but the play was a fake. Don Green took the snap from center and ran for the touchdown. After the game, the referee, Ralph Hoagland, said: "Yost has certainly taught his men some great things about the forward pass."
1913. On October 18, 1913, the Aggies secured their first victory over Michigan, 12–7. Michigan Agricultural's fullback, George E. Julian, scored two touchdowns, and Blake Miller returned a Michigan fumble 45 yards for a touchdown. One account of the game noted: "The one great feature of the game was the accuracy of the Aggies forward passing which netted a total of 76 yards for the Farmers." The New York Times described the game as "a desperate gruelling struggle." Miller suffered a blow to the head during the game and was hospitalized in serious condition. After the game, The Michigan Alumnus made note of the Aggies' potential as an athletic threat: "This victory with the football tie in 1908, and the Farmers' clean sweep in baseball in 1912, point to the fact that M.A.C. will bear watching by Michigan." In the celebration following the game, two Aggies fans were arrested and jailed for "throwing bottles about the streets" in the early hours of Sunday morning.
1915. The Aggies won their second game against Michigan 24–0. Neno DaPrato scored two touchdowns and kicked a field goal for the Aggies. The victory was the second in three years for the Aggies under head coach John Macklin.
1970 The #12 ranked Wolverines avenged their 1969 loss to the Spartans, winning 34–20 in Ann Arbor. Michigan would establish their dominance in the series with this win, creating an eight-game winning streak against the Spartans, outscoring them 202–70 including consecutive shutouts in the 1972 and 1973 games.
1978 Michigan was ranked #5 in the country when the unranked Spartans visited Ann Arbor. Michigan had won the previous eight series meetings under Bo Schembechler when Michigan State, led by QB Eddie Smith and wide receiver (and future MLB star) Kirk Gibson led the Spartans to a 24–15 upset. Michigan State would end up sharing the Big Ten title that season with the Wolverines.
1990 "No. One vs. No One" was the tag line used by the Michigan faithful leading up to the 1990 meeting in Ann Arbor between the two schools. Michigan came into the game ranked #1 in the country. With six seconds left, Elvis Grbac threw a TD pass to Derrick Alexander to make it 28–27 Michigan State. Michigan coach Gary Moeller elected to go for two and the win. Desmond Howard lined for a pass and was defended by Spartan Eddie Brown. While going out for the pass Desmond became entangled with Brown, appeared to have caught the ball for a moment, before dropping it as he fell to the turf. The play was controversial since Howard got entangled with Brown on the play, but no penalty was called. The Wolverines then attempted an onside kick, which they recovered. Grbac then scrambled and threw a Hail Mary that was tipped and intercepted to end the game. Both schools ended up tied for the Big Ten title, along with Illinois and Iowa; all four schools had identical 6-2 conference records.
2001 The 2001 game, also known as Clockgate, was hosted by Michigan State. U-M entered the game undefeated and ranked #6 in the nation. With under three minutes left, the Spartans received the ball at midfield down 24–20. A Michigan facemask penalty resulted in 15 yards and an automatic first down. Two plays later, the Wolverines received a penalty for 12 men on the field. Michigan State was incorrectly charged with their final timeout on that play; the Spartans should not have been because of the U-M penalty. Instead, the final MSU timeout was exhausted. 17 seconds remained when Michigan State quarterback Jeff Smoker attempted to scramble for a touchdown but was stopped at the one yard line. The Spartans rushed to the line and spiked the ball with 1 second remaining on the clock. On the next play, Smoker threw a touchdown pass to T.J. Duckett to win the game 26–24.
U-M radio play-by-announcer Frank Beckmann called it "criminal." His reaction to the last-second MSU victory in 2001 included stating the full name of each game official and saying the Big Ten was out of the national title picture "because of the job that was done here by the men in the striped shirts today". Beckmann also referred to the last tick as "staying on the board for an eternity" and speculated that Dave Parry, then Big Ten coordinator of officials, would soon "no doubt give an apology phone call to (U-M coach) Lloyd Carr."
Instead, the Big Ten reviewed the video of the game and concluded that the clock operator acted appropriately. Dave Parry, the Big Ten Coordinator of officials, said "we could find nothing that suggested a mistake had been made". Stehlin observed afterwards that seven different media outlets timed the play and all concluded that time remained in the ball game. Michigan would finish the season 8-4, making Beckmann's complaints moot.
Beckmann would publicly insist that U-M was cheated for years afterwards, prompting public speculation that Bob Stehlin might file a lawsuit against Beckmann for slander. Outside legal experts suggested that Stehlin would likely win such a lawsuit, but Stehlin retired to Massachusetts and chose not to sue Beckmann. Instead, he publicly stated he forgave Beckmann.
2004 The 2004 game ended with Michigan defeating Michigan State 45–37 in the first triple overtime game at Michigan Stadium. MSU quarterback Drew Stanton was knocked out of the game late in the first half after accounting for 80 yards rushing and 95 yards passing, and was replaced by backup Damon Dowdell. Michigan was down 27–10 with just 8:43 left in the fourth quarter, but the Wolverines managed to tie the game at 27 by the end of the fourth quarter. The Spartans had a chance to win the game in regulation, but kicker Dave Rayner's 50-yard attempt into a stiff wind was short. Michigan proceeded to win in three overtimes. Braylon Edwards led the Wolverines in receiving with 11 receptions for 189 yards and three touchdowns, while Mike Hart carried the ball 33 times for 224 yards. MSU tailback DeAndra Cobb had 205 yards on 22 carries.
2005 In 2005, the game once again went into overtime. MSU was ranked in the top 25 entering the game and the Wolverines were not - the first time that had occurred since 1968. Michigan won 34–31. Michigan went ahead 14–0 after its first two possessions on Avant's leaping, 2-yard catch in the corner of the end zone and Mario Manningham's 43-yard reception. After two stalled drives and with momentum firmly on the Wolverines' side, Michigan State converted two third downs and made it 14–7 on Stanton's 4-yard run. The Spartans were driving deep when a halfback pass by Jerramy Scott was intercepted at Michigan's 4 by Willis Barringer, whose fumble was recovered by the Wolverines on a play that stood after a replay. Michigan State was called for roughing the kicker on the ensuing possession. The Wolverines decided to take the points off the scoreboard, and the move paid off when Henne threw a 5-yard pass to Brian Thompson for a 21–7 lead. Jehuu Caulcrick's 1-yard run for the Spartans made it 21–14 midway through the second quarter and they tied the game on their next possession on Stanton's 61-yard pass to Kerry Reed. the game was tied at 31 heading into overtime. Spartan kicker John Goss missed a 23-yard FG attempt that would have given the Spartans the lead early in the fourth quarter. Michigan kicker Garrett Rivas answered by missing a 27-yard FG with 48 seconds left. Michigan State had the first possession of overtime, but Michigan State kicker John Goss's 37-yard field goal attempt was wide right. Afterward, Michigan kicker Garrett Rivas made a 35-yard field goal to win the game. In his second game playing against the Spartans, Mike Hart rushed for over 200 yards, gaining 218 yards and a touchdown on 36 carries.
2007 The 2007 game marked Michigan's sixth straight win over Michigan State. The Wolverines once again narrowly won with a comeback in the fourth quarter, winning 28–24. Michigan quarterback Chad Henne led two touchdown drives in the final 7:35 of the game, completing touchdown passes to Greg Mathews and Mario Manningham, to lead the Wolverines back from a 24–14 deficit. Henne finished the game with 18 completions for 211 yards and four touchdowns, while Manningham had eight receptions for 129 yards and two touchdowns. After the game, Michigan running back Mike Hart called Michigan State Michigan's "little brother." "I was just laughing,” Hart said of Michigan State taking the lead. “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." Mark Dantonio later responded to Hart's comment stating "I find a lot of the things they do amusing. They need to check themselves sometimes. But just remember, pride comes before the fall... This game is an important game. So they want to mock us all they want to mock us, I'm telling them: it's not over. So they can print that crap all they want all over their locker room. It's not over. It'll never be over here. It's just starting... I'm going to be a coach here for a long time. It's not over. It's just starting." The Spartans are 7–1 against the Wolverines since; this is Michigan's last victory in East Lansing to date.
2008 The game on October 25, 2008, in Ann Arbor, was the first Michigan–Michigan State game for new Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez who, like his four immediate predecessors, lost his first meeting with MSU. Early in the game, Michigan scored on a pass to running back Brandon Minor, who was only able to get one foot on a pylon. The pass was initially called incomplete, but the play was reviewed and incorrectly ruled a touchdown. During halftime, ABC-TV displayed the NCAA rule on the broadcast screen and concluded that the Replay Official was incorrect in awarding the touchdown to Michigan; ABC indicated officials on the field had been correct in originally ruling the play incomplete. The Commissioner of the Big Ten later acknowledged that the call was wrong. The two teams traded touchdowns for much of the game until MSU dominated the fourth quarter, with MSU ending the game by taking multiple knees inside the U-M 20-yard line. The Spartans won 35–21.
2009 The next contest took place on October 3, 2009, in East Lansing. The undefeated, 25th-ranked, Wolverines were expected to defeat the 1–3 Spartans, but Michigan State took the lead in the first quarter and held it for much of the game, extending the lead to 20–6 with a touchdown 13 seconds into the fourth quarter. However, Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier tied it at 20 with a touchdown pass to Roy Roundtree with two seconds left. In overtime, Michigan State cornerback Chris L. Rucker intercepted a tipped pass. On MSU's possession, running back Larry Caper scored on a 24-yard touchdown run. It marked the first time Michigan State had won in back-to-back years since winning three straight from 1965 to 1967. MSU was penalized for 94 yards vs. the Wolverines' 15 yards, but still dominated U-M in offense, 417 yards vs. 251 total yards, and MSU dominated time of possession, 39:46 vs. 20:14.
2010 The next game took place in Ann Arbor on October 9, 2010. MSU dominated the game, out-gaining the Wolverines 536-377 and controlling the ball for 35:55 vs. 24:05 for U-M. At one point in the second quarter Michigan led the Spartans 10–7, but the Spartans took the lead for good shortly after and led 17–10 at the half. In the third quarter, the Spartans went up 31–10 until the early fourth quarter when Michigan scored their final touchdown. The 34–17 win marked the third Spartan victory over Michigan in a row, including two at Ann Arbor; this was the first time since 1965–67 that the Spartans had won three straight games against Michigan. This game was the first since MSU's victory at home against Notre Dame earlier in the season that coach Mark Dantonio was able to coach the entire game due to a heart attack suffered soon after the ND game. Many MSU players and staff cited his return as a major factor in defeating U-M so decisively.
2011 On a windy day in East Lansing, Denard Robinson led the Wolverines to a touchdown on the opening drive. Michigan State answered back with an Edwin Baker touchdown. After two quarters, they were tied at 7. Two Kirk Cousins passing touchdowns put the Spartans ahead for good, 21–7. The Wolverines made it 21–14 before MSU strong safety Isaiah Lewis returned a Denard Robinson interception for a touchdown to give a final score of 28–14 for Michigan State. Michigan State won for the fourth straight year. This was also Brady Hoke's first game in the rivalry as Michigan's head coach. Coach Hoke was the sixth Michigan coach to lose his first game against the rival Spartans.
2012 On October 20, 2012, the Wolverines defeated the Spartans for the first time since 2007, despite not scoring a touchdown. Michigan won in Ann Arbor 12–10 to earn back the Paul Bunyan Trophy. At 10:20 in the second quarter, Brendan Gibbons kicked a FG to put Michigan up 3–0. With 5:03 left, MSU kicker Dan Conroy missed a 38-yard FG attempt. With 1:07 left in the first half, Matt Wile made a 48-yard FG to make the score 6–0 Michigan at halftime. MSU quickly scored a touchdown in their first possession of the second half to go up 7–6. Michigan kicked a third field goal at 13:37 in the fourth quarter to go up 9–7. It appeared that Michigan had MSU stopped towards the end of the fourth by forcing them into a fourth and 9 on their own 30, however the Spartans ran a fake punt and advanced the ball almost to midfield on their way to scoring three more points to go up 10–9. Michigan got the ball back and drove all the way into MSU territory only to be stopped and punt the ball away with 4 minutes left. The Michigan defense forced a three-and-out and they got the ball back at their own 39 with 2:11 left. Denard Robinson completed a 20-yard pass on fourth down to advance Michigan to the MSU 25 yard line and with 9 seconds left Michigan spiked the ball. Brendan Gibbons lined up to kick the game winning field goal and was iced by Mark Dantonio. Gibbons lined back up and split the uprights to win it for Michigan, 12–10. After the game, the students rushed the field in celebration. This was the 900th all-time win for the Wolverines, making them the first program to reach this level in college football history.
2013 On November 2, Michigan State dominated Michigan defensively, winning 29–6. Michigan QB Devin Gardner was sacked 7 times and Michigan accumulated the fewest rushing yards for a game in its entire history (-48 yards). The Spartans held the Wolverines to their lowest point total in the series since 1967, the last time Michigan State had won by more than 20 points. This was the second game in a row that Michigan failed to score a touchdown against Michigan State. This game marked MSU's fifth win of the previous six games in the series.
2014 October 25, 2014: the game was played in East Lansing for the second season in a row due to Big Ten expansion. The Spartans, who received the opening kickoff, marched 75 yards in just 8 plays to score a touchdown in 3:08.
U-M managed a field goal with 3:36 remaining in the second quarter to make it 7–3, but they would never be closer. MSU answered with another TD before halftime, and piled on two more TDs in the third quarter. U-M finally scored its first TD against MSU in three years with just 3:40 remaining in the game. After U-M made the 2-point conversion, MSU marched downfield and scored a final TD with 0:28 remaining. This was notable because four of the previous six games ended with the Spartans taking a knee inside the U-M red zone, instead of adding a final score. In his postgame Press Conference, Mark Dantonio referenced the stake incident in explaining the decision to add a final touchdown.
MSU was penalized for 88 yards in the contest vs. 27 yards in penalties for the Wolverines. Despite that gap, MSU dominated the game, with 22 first downs vs. 13 for U-M; 219 yards rushing vs. 61 for U-M; 227 yards passing vs. 125 for U-M; 446 total yards vs. 186 for U-M; and time of possession of 33:46 vs. 26:14 for U-M.
2015 October 17, 2015: the game was played in Ann Arbor for the first time since 2012. Michigan was favored by 6½ points. The #12 Wolverines, led by first-year coach Jim Harbaugh, entered the game 5–1. The #7 Spartans came into the game 6–0. This was the first meeting of coaches Mark Dantonio and Jim Harbaugh. Michigan scored first and held the lead all the way until the final play of the game. Late in the 4th quarter, with the Wolverines leading 23-21, Michigan State drove into field goal range, but a sack pushed them outside the 40. They failed to convert on 4th and long, giving Michigan the ball and seemingly the victory. However, with 10 seconds left in the game, Michigan was faced with a 4th and short and decided to punt. Despite a solid snap, punter Blake O'Neill dropped the ball and it rolled forward several yards. O'Neill frantically scrambled to recover, but was hit while trying to pick up the ball and it flew into the air. It was caught by Michigan State player Jalen Watts-Jackson, who ran down to the 10 yard line, weaved through a series of blocks, and was tackled after crossing the goal line as time expired, giving Michigan State a 27-23 win. Michigan State outgained Michigan by 158 yards while notching twice as many first downs (20 to 10), despite not holding a lead in the game until the clock hit 0:00.
Accomplishments by the two rivals
|Postseason bowl record||20–23||11–14|
|Rose Bowl appearances||20||5|
|Rose Bowl wins||8||4|
|Big Ten titles||42||9|
|Big Ten Championship Game wins||0||2|
|Big Ten Division titles||0||3|
|All-time program record||924–331–36||676–439–44|
|All-time win percentage||.730||.602|
|Michigan victories||Michigan State victories||Tie games|
Big Ten games
In Big Ten Conference play, Michigan leads the series 35–26–2. The 1953 matchup between the two schools was the first between them with both as Big Ten members.
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