Michigan State football
The Spartan concept of "Axioprépeia" means "To die but make it look good." [Patrick Barron]


By Bryan MacKenzie


I must first apologize to Counterpunt. You see, every week we email each other about the coming game, and then we retire to our separate hemispheres to mash our respective keyboards. We seek to achieve a balance of approaches to give you, the reader, a full picture of the day’s events… and to avoid the jinx that would certainly accompany a unanimous declaration of impending triumph. And this week, I expressed a pessimism about the upcoming game. You see, Mark Dantonio has this voodoo magic, and Michigan State cares more and always finds a way, and the weather is going to be bad, and chips, and shoulders and, and, and.

Enough of that.

The reason Michigan State has beaten Michigan 8 out of the last 10 is straightforward. It’s the same reason Michigan beat Michigan State in 10 of the 12 matchups before that. It’s the same reason most streaks go the way they go: the better team usually wins.


Post stake ergo propter stake

Since the beginning of the S&P+ era (2005), the team that finished the season with the better S&P+ rating has won the Michigan/Michigan State game 10 times. The three exceptions:

  • 2011: MSU beat Michigan in the Trash Tornado game.
  • 2012: Michigan beat MSU in the 12-10 Didn’t Even Score a Touchdown game.
  • 2015: MSU beat Michigan on… that.

In none of those seasons was the ‘upset’ loser ranked more than 11 spots higher than the winner. And in the last 20 years, the team that ends the season with the better record has only lost this game twice: 2011 and the Spartan Bob 2001 game.

So. The better team wins. The exceptions are close and generally fluky. And in years where one team is significantly better than the other (2006, 2008, 2014, 2016), the better team has won somewhere between comfortably and crushingly.



I suppose that’s both the good news and the bad news. The bad news is that, yes, Michigan State was a better football team than Michigan for much of the last decade. That isn’t a great thing to admit, especially following on the heels of a similar level of dominance for the dozen years before that. And because so many of those years Michigan fans entered the game with high hopes for the season, it’s tough to retroactively say, “yeah, they weren’t as good as we thought.”

[After THE JUMP: But are we as good as we think?]

Will Lockwood vs Western Michigan
Sometimes gravity just doesn’t apply [James Coller]





Possession %

First Period

11 4 44%

Second Period

The Sponsors

We can do this because people support us. You should support them! The show is presented by UGP & The Bo Store, and if it wasn’t for Rishi and Ryan we’d be all be very sad ex-SBNation employees with “real” jobs.

Our other sponsors are also key to all of this: HomeSure Lending, Peak Wealth Management, Ann Arbor Elder Law, the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown, the University of Michigan Alumni Association, Michigan Law Grad, Human Element, and Lantana Hummus


1. The Voice of Michigan Stadium

starts at 1:00

Click here if you want a copy of the Voice of Michigan Stadium telling you when you have a text.

Gimmicky Top 5 things we want Carl Grapentine to say, wsg Carl Grapentine. We discuss the challenges of pronouncing of names and words as a PA announcer, and then make all of your cell phones awesome!

2. Wisconsin Recap

starts at 27:27

This may be the high watermark of the season for UFR grading of the blocking. Wisconsin’s defensive ends really were atrocious after all. Still, there were very few missed blitz pickups, very few missed blocks. Lots of new stuff too. Patterson was a little jumpy, perhaps hasn’t yet adjusted to new and improved pass protection. Still having zone issues. Aubrey Solomon was able to stop the bleeding at the defensive line in the second half. Wisconsin’s OLine is still elite. Slants were mostly shut down.

3. MSU Defense

starts at 52:40

The defensive backs are not 2013 caliber but the front seven is still very good. The #1 team against the run, though they’ve definitely had a soft strength of schedule. This will be the toughest test yet for Cesar Ruiz against MSU DT Raequan Williams. Secondary is soft but they don’t give up a lot of big plays.

4. MSU Offense

starts at 1:08:03

MSU does not have a good run offense. LJ Scott is hurt and the other guys are guys. Spartans had success on the ground early in the 2016 game with their early script and expect that again. Will have some tricks ready this time. They will try to get it to Felton Davis often, though it didn’t work much last year. Brian Lewerke is having problems protecting the football. Michigan State has a lot of injuries. Seth starts to rant about ghosts.


Featured tonight: Tally Hall

  • "Good Day“
  • "Banana Man"
  • "Greener"
  • “Across 110th Street”

If you or a friend made some good tunes and don't have a label out scrubbing for them we'd be happy to feature you.


You have a text

I respect this institution deeply

Zach Harrison Olentangy Orange defensive end

Forecast looks good

mark d'antonio

Lemme guess: a match quarters defense.

zone left

the movie you watch before each of Michigan's upcoming opponents.