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Michigan State vs. Michigan: History of rivalry between the Spartans and the Wolverines

We take a look back at one of the best in-state rivalries in college football as Michigan hosts MSU at the Big House this weekend.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Pittsburgh v Michigan State Photo by Adam Hagy/Getty Images

The No. 4 Michigan Wolverines host their in-state Big Ten rival Michigan State Spartans at the Big House in Ann Arbor on Saturday with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. ET. Michigan looks to continue their undefeated streak against a matchup that might prove tougher than it looks on paper, and Michigan State is in the hunt for bowl eligibility after a tough four-game losing streak.

History of Michigan State vs. Michigan

Total games played: 114
Record: Michigan is 71–38–5
Last game: Michigan State won 37-33 in East Lansing

A series that began in 1898, Michigan and Michigan State have faced each other every year since 1945 for possession of the Paul Bunyan Trophy. The Wolverines dominated the series for much of the late 20th century, but after Michigan running back-turned-RBs coach Mike Hart referred to MSU as “little brother” in 2017, the Spartans found it in them to win eight of the next ten matchups.

Biggest game in series history: How can you pick?

There are too many to have a single biggest game! The Wolverines’ 2015 trouble with the snap, where a miffed long snap allowed MSU a last-second score, the Spartans’ 1990 controversial upset of No. 1 Michigan, ClockGate in East Lansing in 2001, MSU breaking a 22-game Michigan winning streak in 1934, triple-OT in 2004.

Most important player in series history: Mike Hart

The “little brother” comment has completely changed the landscape of the rivalry over the past decade and a half. The actual history of the game goes far too deep to choose a single player who has made an outsize impact of one matchup or another, but in the modern era, that comment has defined the annual game.

Odds for 2022

Spread: Michigan -22.5
Total: Over/Under 55
Moneyline: Michigan -2400, Michigan State +1200

Michigan State just recently pulled themselves out of a four-game skid with an overtime win over Wisconsin, and while this is a great game into which to bring that momentum, it’s highly unlikely we’ll see them get on a winning streak. The nature of huge rivalry games like this is that they always seem to stay closer than they should be, so while Michigan will definitely pull this one out at home, their shaky first-half defense will probably allow the Spartans to stay in it for awhile.