The Freep considers itself, to a degree correctly, as the paper for Detroit first, then the state of Michigan. Both Detroit and the state as a whole have significantly more State alumni and fans then UM, because UM alumni leave the state in greater numbers than State and State has a higher undergraduate population in the first place. Therefore, you should generally consider the Freep to be the local paper for State fans.
As the Freep is in a somewhat dire situation financially, they are not likely to want to antagonize their primary base of readers, namely State fans. Hence the anti-UM stories that often border the realm of the ludicrous, mixed in with favorable State coverage, such as glossing over Glenn Winston's release from prison for assault just in time for preseason camp. State fans do not want to hear that their football players going to prison and then back to the football field, they want to hear that Michigan practices too much.