…And I didn’t even have to use any actual tactical football reasons to get ten! If you want actual football analysis and boring UM defense vs. MSU offense ho-hum stuff, go to ESPN.com.
10.) The game is in Ann Arbor. Although the Maize and Blue don’t have the best home record (2-3, average margin -3.6) this year, it’s still better than their away record (0-2, average margin -23.5). From a mathematical standpoint, it’s difficult to argue that losing by an average of 23.5ppg is better than losing by an average of 3.6ppg. Hey, I learned a few things here and there while earning a degree.
9.) Well, RRR, of course! Seriously, if RR can’t rally the boys against State, we’re really going to be in trouble against Ohio State. Like 70-0, bury-your-head-in-the-ground to-avoid-the-shame trouble.
8.) The Michigan State inferiority complex. But don’t take my word for it. This is a phenomenon that you, yourself can observe from an average MSU fan, but particularly from their alumni. I’ll begin with this caveat- as much crap as I give State fans; I’m not oblivious to the fact that it is a decent overall school with several top academic programs. In other words, MSU alums shouldn’t have to defend their allegiance to MSU…yet they do, constantly, year after year.
This complex is easily provoked by
a.) Making fun of MSU
b.) Referring to UM as “us,” or “we.”
The canned responses are either “Where did you go to school,” “Where is your degree from,” or the classic “Are you on the team? What position do you play?” The responses are so uniform I swear they teach this in Freshman Orientation at State. I’m convinced MSU fans/Alumni truly believe you can’t cheer for a team unless you have a degree from the school…like its some big accomplishment out of the reach of the average individual to get a Communications degree from State.
State Alums: Until MSU gives the country a reason to be non-alumni State fans, accept that UM will have more fans than MSU that didn’t go to the school. It’s not our fault we have (see what I did there?) the most wins in NCAA history. It attracts a lot of fans, what can you do? The next time someone makes fun of you for going to State/cheering for State, realize that they probably didn’t go to Michigan or any other decent university. Get down off of your Cross, use the wood to build yourself a bridge and GET OVER IT.
State and UM are both great…I mean, for being public schools. But that part goes without saying.
7.) The Michigan State team demeanor. Let’s face it; the MSU program is primarily composed of athletes that either didn’t get recruited by UM or OSU, for whatever reason. I’ve developed a theory that this reason is not athletic skill, as their players surely run, pass, catch and tackle reasonably well- and in some cases, extremely well. There is a lot of talent on the MSU sideline. However, they also seem to be comprised of some of the biggest boneheaded, temper tantrum throwing, emotionally unstable players I’ve seen on ANY team. You want something you can count on from an MSU team? I’ll tell you- a critical unnecessary penalty (late hit, false start, offside, pick one…or all) or untimely pick/fumble/drop. They consistently give away games that their skill should have won. There is something mentally wrong with the players recruited to MSU. Maybe “wrong” isn’t the best assessment; it’s just that their level of talent does not align with their mental capacity for the game. Whether it is the chip on the proverbial shoulder from not getting recruiting attention from bigger programs or something else entirely- something causes their players to be prone to what pundits and announcers refer to as “The big mistake,” and State fans have seen it time and time again.
Now I’ll give Dantonio credit- he’s the first no-BS guy they’ve hired in my lifetime and he appears to be changing some of this. He’s the disciplinarian that MSU needed to keep these kids grounded…but deep down they’re still the same players with the same issues. I don’t think OSU was 5 touchdowns better than MSU, and I don’t think OSU got up for the game that much. What you saw, pure and simple, was another MSU mental meltdown. If this weekend’s game is close, pay close attention to MSU down the stretch to see if this truly is Dantonio’s new attitude team…or just another group of headcases.
6.) The Ruination Factor. How rare is it that UM is in the position to ruin State’s season? OSU did manage to take the edge off of the ruination factor, but at 6-2, they’re well ahead of where they finished last year. This leads nicely into…
5.) It’s time for the annual MSU meltdown. Let’s take a look at the last few State Seasons:
2007 Started 5-2, Finished 7-6 Record Before UM 5-4, After 2-2
2006 Started 3-0, Finished 4-8 Record Before UM 3-2, After 1-6
2005 Started 4-0, Finished 5-6 Record Before UM 4-0, After 1-6
2004 Started 4-3, Finished 5-7 Record Before UM 4-3, After 1-3
2003 Started 7-1, Finished 8-5 Record Before UM 7-1, After 1-4
The only time in the last 5 years that MSU hasn’t completely self destructed during and after the UM game was last year…and that was because they had already hit the self destruct button a month prior. I blame this on scheduling the game later in the year, as State probably figured they could do better by postponing the UM triggered devastation as far as possible into the season.
4.) The MSU fight song. My version, or should I say the version passed to me by a State fan (no lie), sings as follows:
(For reference, check this youtube link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EpSh9S-Xsk start singing at the 0:25 second mark)
Go to school at M S U
Learn to count to teeeeeeeen
If you go and f*** it up,
Then you can start again
1, 3, 5
Look at us we’re drunk and dumb
And we don’t even caaaaaaare
1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Holy s*** we’re halfway theeeeeere!
Sing it, love it, share it. Too distasteful? Perhaps…but it’s more imaginative than “Go Blow” or the ever popular "Assholes of the West."
3.) Neutral clock officials. The last time MSU managed to win a game against UM, they had to cheat by “saving” a second on the game clock during a spike play. Now I know what you’re going to say- you saw the ESPN replay and they had an actual clock there and it showed that it was legit blah blah blah. Fact: As a result of this game, the clock went from being operated by the home team to having a neutral clock official. If that isn’t an admission of wrongdoing, I don’t know what is.
2.) Low expectations all around. UM has nothing to lose at this point in the season. Bowl streak, winning season streaks…all gone. MSU is just plain used to losing. State fans accept losing not just because of State, but because most of them are Lions fans too. Imagine how that feels- the only redeeming characteristic of the two teams you care about is that they’re “lovable losers.” Ouch.
Example: In 2004, I was dating an MSU student and after the UM game her away message on AIM was something one of her professors had either sent out or put on the board in class (I don’t remember, exactly). It basically congratulated MSU on covering the spread, after squandering a double digit fourth quarter lead and giving up 3 receiving touchdowns to the same guy (God?) in the fourth and OT. Seriously, he congratulated them on COVERING THE SPREAD. He went on to poke fun at the celebration by the UM players and fans as being excessive for beating the heavy underdog Spartans. I can’t make this stuff up, people.
1.) Call it fate. Call it luck. Call it karma. I believe that everything that has happened this year happened for a reason; to shake things up a bit, to not take 8-9 wins a season for granted, to make the Lloyd haters rethink themselves, to shake out the true fans. Remember, it’s always darkest before dawn, and last week’s PSU game was about as pitch black as it can get. There are going to be little sparks of hope strung along the way before the RR machine starts firing on all cylinders, and I feel one of those coming on Saturday.