For people who grew up before the late 2000s, the script in the state of Michigan went like this: the Wolverines firmly controlled the Mitten State, seizing 13 of 18 games from 1990 to 2007.
Obviously, the tide has turned in the last decade with Michigan State taking eight of the last 10 matchups.
“From a competitive standpoint,” Kyle Bogenschutz of Detroit’s 97.1 The Ticket said, “the script has completely flipped.”
“Bogey” co-hosts the Bogey and Wojo Show with Detroit News columnist Bob Wojnowski (weekdays from 6 p.m to 8 p.m.) His show colleague graduated from Michigan (presumably before the invention of the forward pass), while fellow 97.1 host Mike Valenti famously parades green and white on his sleeve.
Bogenschutz, on the other hand, doesn’t have a dog in the fight, as he worked his way up from Schoolcraft College in Livonia to WTKA in Ann Arbor to his job today. He’s the ideal choice to discuss — from an unvarnished, objective perspective — whether the Wolverines or Spartans are running the state.
How’d that get in there? Moving on...
“This is a weird time in the state for anyone over the age of 30,” he said to Maize n Brew. “I grew up knowing that Michigan dominates in football, and Tom Izzo and the Spartans controlled things in basketball. Both stories have flipped on their heads.”
After Michigan’s 32-23 triumph in East Lansing two years ago, and the disastrous 3-9 campaign, many national pundits thought Mark Dantonio’s program was dead in the water. With a redemptive 2017 in the rearview mirror, Bogenschutz senses a restored identity in the MSU fanbase.
“The chip is back on the shoulder,” he said. “Much has been made of flipping the script from 3-9 to 9-3 (in the regular season), and they used the doubt from the outside to fuel the turnaround. Just like that, they expect to return to Indianapolis.”
Bogenschutz cut his teeth writing for the now defunct Scout.com under the wing of The Michigan Insider’s Sam Webb. From his time on the recruiting beat, he knew that MSU’s resurgence was only a matter of time.
“Mark Dantonio has an uncanny track record in player development,” he said. “He’s very much the John Beilein of football in that regard. Just look at the quarterbacks during his tenure: Brian Hoyer, Kirk Cousins, Connor Cook and now Brian Lewerke. The first three either start or contribute in the NFL, while Lewerke looks to be the next guy.”
The newly-minted captain made this year’s Davey O’Brien Award watch list for top college quarterback after throwing for just under 2,793 yards, 20 touchdowns and just seven picks.
“Sure, they’ve gotten studs,” Bogenschutz continued, “like L.J. Scott from Ohio, but most of the time, it’s turning two and three-stars into NFL prospects. The perfect example is (current Pittsburgh Steeler starting running back) Le’Veon Bell. Most wanted him at linebacker, and Mark Dantonio said no to that. Just like that, he emerged as a force as a pro.”
While he notices confidence from his MSU callers, he seems impressed the last decade hasn’t beaten Michigan fans down.
“Michigan fans could’ve been humbled after Rich Rodriguez, but they still have faith,” he said. “After Brady Hoke, they continued to believe. With Jim Harbaugh not quite meeting expectations, I think now the attitude is a ‘show me now’ feeling.”
Michigan enters the season ranked No. 14 in the AP poll, while Michigan State opens three spots ahead at No. 11. For Michigan to change the anti-Harbaugh narrative nationally, he said, they need to win the games that matter.
“Michigan State is rightly an almost top 10 team,” he said, “and Michigan has to prove a bit before they are, too. Fortunately, they have every opportunity to do so. Even though I think Notre Dame is trash, that’s a high-profile game to potentially get the big game monkey off their back. With that confidence, I would bet they knock off one of the two between Michigan State and Ohio State.”
He mentioned if the Wolverines had a quarterback to hit some wide-open receivers in 2017, we may not be having this discussion at all. Overall, he sees the same record between the two in-state teams: 10-2.
“With the personnel losses at Penn State,” he said, “and the situation in Columbus, the division is wide open.”
Oct. 20 cant’t get here soon enough. The division title and conference championship may be on the line.
So will the ownership of the state.