Ranking Big Ten rivalries

Submitted by yossarians tree on October 10th, 2011 at 10:41 AM

It just occurred to me this week that Michigan is one half of the top two rivalry games in the conference and they play those games every year. No other team has that kind of schedule.  While we love it, embrace it, and take the challenge, it can be argued that year-in/year-out Michigan plays the toughest conference schedule because these super-heated rivalry games never go off their schedule.

Questions: Is there another Big Ten rivalry game not involving Michigan that is bigger than our two?

And, is it right for the schedule-maker to give Sparty a bye week heading into this game? (Ed. note: no excuses, we will beat the snot out of them regardless. But would the league ever dream of giving Michigan or Ohio a bye the week before The Game? I think not. Why not? Well, you know the answer.)

Michigan 24, State 17



October 10th, 2011 at 10:57 AM ^

Is UM-MSU that big of a rivalry historically? I agree the last few years have been heated and I desperately want to win this year, but I think that most UM fans (and rational MSU fans) expect that sooner or later we'll go back to the kind of dominance that UM has shown in the past and the MSU game will fade in importance. I'd say that ND is a much bigger rival of UM, if for nothing else than they're nationally relevant some years. I also see UM-NU becoming a bigger rivalry what with them being in the same division and all.


October 10th, 2011 at 11:30 AM ^

Absolutely. Your perspective is based on the Schembechler years to now, but from 1950 through 1969, MSU was the dominant program in the state, going 14-4-2 against UM. A good percentage of those losses were legit whuppings at the hands of the Spartans; in the '60s we were shut out three times 28-0, 28-0, and 34-0. MSU won 2 national championships during this time span and was one of the power teams in the conference, while during this same time UM struggled more often than not.

Since MSU became a formal member of the conference in '53, only Ohio State has more victories against Michigan. The series record during that time is 34-22-2 for UM.

MSU getting the bye week on several occasions prior to the game with UM while we've never had even one is a huge inequity that I'd be bitching about nonstop to the conference, if I were DB.


October 10th, 2011 at 11:00 AM ^

I wonder how non Michigan residents feel about the importance of Michigan - MSU.  The TV schedule makers didnt feel like it was as important as Ohio - Illinois.  But I really cant think of any other real rivalry games in the Big Ten.  It is probably because Michigan and Ohio have dominated for so long.  The other instate matchups just arent very exciting - Illinois-NW and Indiana-Purdue. 

I always think of MSU as our 3rd rival, behind Ohio and Notre Dame.  But our recent success against ND and lack of success against MSU has made the MSU rivalry seem more important.


October 10th, 2011 at 11:55 AM ^

Our rivaly with State is a bigger rivalry, I mean is there even a Ohio vs. Illionis rivalry.  But for TV purposes, Michigan vs. MSU only pulls in the State of Michgian whereas Ohio vs. Illinois pulls in two states, plus the Ohio haters wanting to see another Ohio big ten loss.  


October 10th, 2011 at 3:16 PM ^

I see ND rivalry as much closer in importance to our #1 Ohio rivalry than the MSU rivalry.  I think it is because of the historic and national implications - old storied programsn, highest winning percentages, most wins, etc. 

Michigan - MSU is really just like many in-state rivalries such as OU-Oklahoma St., Oregon-Oregon St., etc.


October 10th, 2011 at 11:07 AM ^

With the new divisions the importance of the Paul Bunyan trophy has grown exponentially. This year the legends landscape has it down to UM and MSU at this point. Meaning this saturdays game could have big implications on who plays in Indy on december 3rd. Not saying that this becomes a bigger rivalry than "The Game", but I expect the importance of this game to grow from here on out.


October 10th, 2011 at 2:00 PM ^

if it turns out someone besides your traditional rival MSU consistently becomes a major obstacle to Michigan winning the Legends. I wonder if in that scenario Notre Dame will lessen a bit (provided they don't end up in the B1G).

And in general, the divisional setup could change several teams priorities as far as how they rank their rivalries, once the importance of getting to the conferance championship game sinks in.


October 10th, 2011 at 11:13 AM ^

What you're basically asking is if there is another (non-Michigan) Big Ten rivalry that's bigger than UM/MSU because nothing tops UM/OSU despite them going 8-1 with Captain Ethics and us going 10-2-1 before that.  It's obviously bigger to us since we're Wolverine fans.  But there are other Big Ten rivalries that aren't as one sided as UM/MSU history wise. 

In answer to your second question, no.  I don't think it's right that Sparty gets a bye week before playing us.  Folks have different opinions on bye weeks but I personally don't like that MSU gets a week to rest and prepare for us.  And this is the 5th time this has happened since 93.  MSU had bye weeks before the Michigan game in 1993, 1998, 2003 and 2004 as well.  And yes, while they ended up going 1-3 in those 4 games, none of those MSU teams were good.  Saban's team lost 6 games in 98, John L. Smith's teams were...John L Smith teams.  (Although everyone remembers how that classic 04 game started and MSU had not looked that dominant all season.)  George Perles crappy 6-6 team beat us 17-7 in 93, and we had offensive weapons such as Tyrone Wheatley, Derrick Alexander, Amani Toomer and Todd Collins.  This year's MSU team is much better than any of those other teams that had the extra week. 

Michigan has 3 traditional rivalries and we have never once had a bye week before ANY of them.  

If we do end up losing this game, GOD FORBID, I won't blame it on the bye week.  But the sting will feel a little worse because I do think it is an advantage. 


October 10th, 2011 at 11:37 AM ^

But basically lost an NFL line to the draft.  That's one of the few games I've seen up till the last few years that they legitimately beat us.  I'll never forget Rod Payne standing there bouncing back and forth looking for someone to block as Spartan linemen when by him on either side.  Complete whiff. So, yeah, those tools have a hard time without anyone to block up front. (In RP's defense, he was a freshman, and ended up being a good lineman.  But it was a learning experience).

yossarians tree

October 10th, 2011 at 11:18 AM ^

There are a few cute trophy games. Old Oak 'n Bucket (Purdue-Indiana?). Land Grant (gah!). Truthfully the Little Brown Jug is a little brown joke. Illinois? Frankly they seem to inspire no feeling at all. That is the B1Gs most boring school by far. Any others?

OSU-Penn State does have the potential of becoming intense because those are two neighboring football-crazy states.

I still think the State rivalry is bigger than ND. On the occasional loss to ND they are smugly annoying. On the occasional loss to Sparty they are so fucking obnoxious you want to pick them up and stuff them in a box just like you would with your little brother.


October 10th, 2011 at 11:50 AM ^

I think the top three rivalries in the Big Ten are; Michigan vs. Ohio, Wisconsin vs. Minnesota, and Michigan vs. MSU.

All of the other rivalries don't stack up to those three in that they're some combination of irrelevant (IU - Purdue) forced/manufactured (Ohio - Illinois), or lacking the history and/or "hatred" of the aforementioned three (MSU - PSU). 

Eye of the Tiger

October 10th, 2011 at 1:16 PM ^

Is how the schools divide the state.  While the rivalry doesn't have the pedigree of our rivalry with Ohio, or the prestige of our rivalry with ND, it does have the immediacy of a backyard brawl.  Plus no one is as obnoxious when they win as MSU and its fans.  With Ohio and ND, you expect some smack talk, but there is some level of mutual respect there, for each others' traditions at least.  Not so with Sparty.  

Having lost 3 in a row to the juggalos  is intolerable, because they make it intolerable.  So I don't just want to win on Saturday, I want to take them down a notch.  Several notches.   

To put it another way, I want Ohio and ND to be at least fairly good, so when we beat them it's more meaningful.  With MSU, I want them to be bad and then I want to destroy them.  


October 10th, 2011 at 3:52 PM ^

1.) Michigan vs OSU

2.) Michigan vs ND




3.) Michigan vs MSU  (I think MN was higher until this past decade)

4.) Michigan vs MN

5.) and 6.) IA and IL were getting pretty heated in the 80s.

7.) Purdue was a grudge match in the 70s...then again in the 90s

8.) PSU thought they owned us coming into the B1G in the early 90s...we showed them.

9.) Indiana seem always to be the team we would beat up.

10.) NE may turn into a good one if we both become dominate teams in the Legend Division.



October 10th, 2011 at 4:36 PM ^

All the quirky Jug history aside, the Michigan-Minnesota rivalry hasn't been a big deal for a long time (probably the 1960s or earlier). 

I don't agree about Purdue being a grudge match, either.  Their few wins were all huge upsets - hence their old nickname of "Spoilermakers."

Iowa, OTOH, was a pretty heated series in the 1980s and to some extent thereafter.  PSU has also been a pretty big deal.  I wish we could play them every year.