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Thursday, November 7, 2013


It's time to review the true status of the football rivalry between Michigan State and Michigan. Wolverine fans are constantly bragging about their "all-time wins record", but to do so, they are actually counting rugby scrimmages from the late 1800s as "football". There's no way to stop those people, but we don't have to believe in their mythology.

Let's take a look at the last ten years of the series, a span that comprises double the normal playing career of any player, and in this case includes a total of five different coaches. Sure, there was life before 2004, even college football, and history remains relevant even a quarter-century ago or more. But a decade is definitely a significant measuring stick, so let's go.

Last 10 Football Games Between MSU and UM
2013:  MSU wins by 23 (29-6)
2012:  UM wins by 2 (12-10)
2011:  MSU wins by 14 (28-14)
2010:  MSU wins by 17 (34-17)
2009:  MSU wins by 6 (26-20, OT)
2008:  MSU wins by 14 (35-21)
2007:  UM wins by 4 (28-24)
2006:  UM wins by 18 (31-13)
2005:  UM wins by 3 (34-31, OT)
2004:  UM wins by 8 (45-37, 3OT)
  • Ten Game Record = MSU 5, UM 5
  • Non-Overtime Record = MSU 4, UM 3
  • Total Points = MSU 267, UM 227 (MSU + 40)

It's easy to see and obvious to point out that Michigan State has the upper hand in recent years. But you can see from the summary above that even over ten years of the series, MSU "measures up" and even holds a slight lead in non-overtime games and total points.

Let's extend our review by summarizing the season results for each team over the same decade, using partial results for the current season.


Michigan State Spartans
2004:  5-7, Fifth Place, no bowl
2005:  5-6, Ninth Place, no bowl
2006:  4-8, Tenth Place, no bowl
2007:  7-6, Seventh Place, bowl loss
2008:  9-4, Third Place, bowl loss
2009:  6-7, Sixth Place, bowl loss
2010:  11-2, First Place (B1G), bowl loss
2011:  11-3, First Place (division), Bowl Win
2012:  7-6, Fourth Place (division), Bowl Win
2013:  13-1, First Place (B1G), Rose Bowl Champion

  • MSU TEN YEAR TOTAL = 78-50 (.609)
  • Current Bowl Games in a row = 7
  • Current Bowl Win Streak = 3
  • Biggest Bowl Win Streak = 3
  • Seven Bowl games played, three wins
  • League Championships = 2
  • Division Titles = 2

Michigan Wolverines
2004:  9-3, First Place, bowl loss
2005:  7-5, Third Place, bowl loss
2006:  11-2, Second Place, bowl loss
2007:  9-4, Second Place, Bowl Win
2008:  3-9, Tenth Place, no bowl
2009:  5-7, Tenth Place, no bowl
2010:  7-6, Seventh Place, bowl loss
2011:  11-2, Second Place (division), Bowl Win
2012:  8-5, Second Place (division), bowl loss
2013:  7-6, Fifth Place (division) bowl loss

  • UM TEN YEAR TOTAL = 77-49 (.611)
  • Current Bowl Games in a row = 4
  • Current Bowl Win Streak = 0
  • Biggest Bowl Win Streak = 1
  • Eight Bowl games played, two wins
  • League Championships = 1
  • Division Titles = 0

The differential in winning percentage equals less than two games over the last ten years. If you can think of two (2) games in the last decade that UM might well have lost, that margin would bring the two teams to statistical equivalency. (The UConn and Akron games from this year come to mind, maybe that shoot-out with Illinois a few years ago.) Or, if you can think of two games over the past decade that MSU barely lost, there's your gap.

With Bowl games yet to be played, the stat "gap" may narrow further this season.

BOTTOM LINE:  Michigan State has a better bowl streak in progress, as well as a better bowl-win streak. MSU has "measured up" by winning more league championships and division titles over the last decade. The series is tied in wins/losses, and the Spartans lead in points scored.

Every one of the ten games was a battle, not only to win
on the field, but for Michigan State to establish parity
and then supremacy. These last ten battles have
changed the face of the rivalry for years to come.

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