Opinion: The Michigan-MSU rivalry is out of hand

ESPN.com

Jacob Harris, Web Editor

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The Michigan- Michigan State rivalry is one of the most prominent in-state rivalries in college sports. There aren’t many states that have two schools with such consistent success in sports like Michigan and MSU do. However, the rivalry often gets out of hand, especially when it comes to football games between the two.

I have been a Michigan fan since I ever knew the difference between the two schools. I grew up at the Big House, Chrysler, Yost. Ann Arbor was, and still is, a constant part of my life. However, I have always considered myself a reasonable fan when it comes to the big in-state rival we have. I try not to be irrational, as I have nothing against MSU. I tend to acknowledge the times in which they are better than us, and respect them during the times Michigan is better than them. That doesn’t mean I don’t defend my team or participate in the trash-talk after a Michigan win. I simply keep a level-minded opinion when it comes to the rivalry. Many fans, on both sides of the spectrum, however, become some of the most irrational sports fans when the two teams face off.

This year’s football game was nothing short of a blowout. Michigan fans know it. State fans know it. However, this game seems to carry far too much weight for both sides every year, when recently it has not even been a very impactful game.

Before the game, many State fans I talked to said that any time they beat Michigan, their season is a success, no matter what. This shocked me, as I thought about this season as, what seems to be, a very disappointing season for Michigan State. Just to beat Michigan would really complete their season, even should they barely scratch a .500 record?

I love rivalries in sports. I know what it feels like to beat your rival, as I view this dynamic similar to our rivalry with North, a school just down the road that just wants to beat you every year more than anything. For me, this State game has not been the game I’ve circled in football year in year out. Ohio State will remain, to me, the game that I would give anything to win, as it actually carries weight to it; decides our fate almost every season. Similarly, the football game between South and North this year carried basically no impact for South, as all the blowout win gave was bragging rights. Michigan and MSU fans should realize that yes, it’s a great rivalry game, but the season’s success for both teams doesn’t depend on this one game.

To Michigan fans, history doesn’t matter. Sure, we’ve statistically dominated this rivalry historically, and there is no debating that. State fans have been guilty of this recently as well, as they have been the prevailing team in football in the past decade. This rivalry should really be based on a year to year basis. I don’t care what your team’s record is in the last whatever years. Every year is a new year for both teams. Picking a time frame that just so happens to be the time frame in which one of the teams had a winning record is irrational.

This is not to say that the rivalry should lose its intensity in any way. It just seems that the magnitude that the fans give to this rivalry is unreasonable, and the arguments that it spurs between opposing fans could be easily avoided.

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