It’s time for Big League Clew’s college football rivalry trophy of the week! This week, Clew takes a look at one of the bigger in-state rivalries in the country, when Michigan takes on Michigan State!
One of the more interesting rivalries in all of college football is between two bitter rivals from the state of Michigan. Both the Spartans and the Wolverines have had numerous grudge match games against one another throughout the years. Some ended in upsets while others turned into blowouts. As we take a look into the Battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy, we will show you the importance of this great rivalry match up.
#11 Michigan Wolverines (6-0, 2-0) @ #23 Michigan State Spartans (4-1, 1-0), 10/15 @ 12p.m.
Last year’s results: Michigan State beat Michigan 34-17
The historic Paul Bunyan Trophy was modeled after the mythical giant lumberjack Paul Bunyan to reflect Michigan’s history as a major lumber-producing states. The trophy was first presented in 1953, which was Michigan State’s first year as a member of the Big Ten conference. It was given to the winner by then Governor G. Mennen Williams. The Trophy is a four foot wooden statue of the Paul Bunyan himself, and it sits on a five foot high base. Michigan holds the overall lead with 67 total wins in the rivalry, however, as we previously stated the trophy itself was not added to the mix until 1953. With the trophy in place, the record currently stands at a 34-22-2 edge for Michigan. However, at the start of the trophy series, Michigan State held a nearly two decade long period of dominance over Michigan, winning 14 out of the 20 contests between the two schools. Some of the best games in all of college football took place in this rivalry game, including the famed “clockgate” game in 2001, and the triple overtime game of 2004. This year’s match up should be a great game, as both programs are legendary division rivals and ranked in the top 25. All eyes will be on Heisman hopeful Denard Robinson and Michigan as they look to take back the Paul Bunyan trophy from Michigan State for the first time in four years.
Here’s some more about the two infamous games we mentioned earlier…
“Clockgate” – 2001 (video below)
This game is referred to as “clockgate” because of a controversial call at the end of the game. Michigan State quarterback Jeff Smoker threw a touchdown pass to T. J. Duckett to win the game on a last second play in the 4th Quarter. Michigan disputed the call, saying that MSU never got the play off, as they felt the clock had expired before the last play took place. The video was examined by the Big Ten Conference commissioner of referees and he declared that the clock call was in fact correct, and that Spartans had won on the last second play. This incident led to the creation of a rule within the Big Ten that gave control of the game clock to a game official instead of a school representative.
Triple OT Game – 2004 (highlights below)
The 2004 rivalry game ended with the Wolverines defeating the Spartans 45-37. It was the first triple overtime game ever at Ann Arbor. Michigan was down 27-10 with 8:43 remaining in the fourth quarter. When all seemed lost, they decided to mount a comeback of sorts and managed to tie the game up at 27 by the end of the fourth quarter, and they proceeded to dispatch Michigan State in the three overtimes. At the end of it all, current 49er WR Braylon Edwards led the Wolverines with 11 receptions for 189 yards and 3 scores, while former Indianapolis Colts RB Mike Hart ran the ball 33 times for 224 yards.
Players to look out for This Year:
Michigan: Big QB Denard Robinson (67 of 117, 1130 yards passing, 10 passing TDs, 686 yards rushing, 8 rushing TDs) WR Junior Hemingway (391 yards, 1 TD) RB Fitzgerald Toussant (311 yards rushing, 4 TDs)
Michigan State: QB Kirk Cousins (101 of 149, 1197 yards passing, 6 TDs) WR B.J. Cunningham (582 yards receiving, 2 TDs) RB Le’Veon Belle (52 rushes, 254 yards, 6 rushing TDs)
Predictions: Both teams have high powered offenses that can score. It will all come down to whose defense can come out on top (both MSU and UM rank 2nd in the nation in points against). Michigan has an advantage in the run, but ranks 105th in passing. Michigan State should come out on top since they play at home in Lansing and the crowd should be a factor.
image courtesy of: http://spartannation.com
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