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Live diary from Michigan vs. Michigan State

With another blood stained chapter, of course I had to attend, and of course I had to document the day.

Michigan State v Michigan Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Rivalry games mean more.

It’s not “just another game,” or only win/loss records or the postseason at stake, but pride. Pride among coaches, players, students, alumni, friends, family and fans. It’s 365 days of earned superiority the victors never let the losers forget (it has been 1,065 days since Ohio State has beaten Michigan) and pride is an invaluable currency to a sports fan.

With Michigan and Michigan State’s campuses being only 65 miles apart, it feels like you can hear the chants of “Tuck comin’” and “37-33” all the way from East Lansing. Even over the thunderous roar of a 3-4 record, the mocking chants of the Spartans have persisted entering last weekend.

The Wolverines may lead the overall series, 71-38-5, but Michigan State held a 4-3 advantage in the Jim Harbaugh era (2015-present), and a 2-0 record under the $95 million man Mel Tucker.

While Saturday was advertised as the “Battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy,” that four-foot wooden statue merely represents the pride of the mitten; a state championship of civil war proportions with one winner, and one little brother.

I wrote this introduction Thursday evening and drove north Friday afternoon to Toledo to stay with my Out of the Blue podcast co-host Jared Stormer. On Saturday, we went to Ann Arbor to tailgate and watch the rivalry clash live.

Everything after this was kept on my notes app as a live diary from Saturday.

3:46 AM - Naturally, I can’t sleep. What trick play is Mel Tucker going to run when his offense can’t get a rhythm and why do I know it will work?

9:01 AM - To quote Kuzzik from Role Models, “Diana has put away her bosom. Apollo has lifted his skirt. The day been launched.” IT’S GAME DAY!

11:03 AM - A run has seemingly calmed the nerves until Blake Corum’s Instagram features a song called “War.” Now I’m ready for the trenches.

12:58 PM - Salt Springs Brewery in Saline, MI, for a hearty pregame before the tailgating pregame festivities. Ohio State vs. Penn State is on and it’s a 14-13 game at halftime. I have seen this before.

2:29 PM - Time to tailgate. Golf course is full, Pioneer is full and kickoff isn’t until another five hours!! I’m so proud of you all. Also shout out to Brandon for some rousing conversation and delightful directions to the next tailgate. A true Michigan man!

4:57 PM - We have hauled our supplies and migrated to join the golf course tailgate and the electricity is palpable. Fans are nervous, excited and blood thirsty. Shout out to Jim for hosting us nomads. His father shot a 79 on the golf course this weekend, recalled witnessing the ‘97 Charles Woodson interception against MSU in person, and may have invented electricity (he did none of the above).

6:30 PM - Stadium time!

6:51 - 7:38 PM - PANIC .. So Jared forgot to download the tickets and decided — as any soldier would — to hike one mile the other direction to download the tickets. Well, blame it on the goose, blame it on the Bud Heavies, but we didn’t factor in he would forget the exact location of the tailgate AND not have cell service. We are searching the stadium entrances for 45 minutes until one message gets across to my girlfriend’s phone that simply reads “Drip Coffee.”

It felt like the Lord had bestowed his 11th commandment upon us. We linked up, and we’re in here, baby!!

7:44 PM - The Big House crowd is electric! Full student section and a mass of blue (admittedly, green as well). Game time.

7:50 PM - FOUR PENALTIES ON THE OPENER!! Spartans punt!

7:52 PM - An usher just confronted a Michigan State fan in our section seemingly for only standing up too much? Listen, I am all for giving a Spartans fan a hard time, but this wasn’t needed. (I loved it.)

7:56 PM - Cornelius Johnson fumble... Oh boy. Feeling very “Sparty weird” already. Is a monsoon going to start to swell too?

8:02 PM - Michigan State goes four-and-out. The defense is locked in!

8:10 PM - Red zone execution leaves a lot to be desired but winning is winning. 3-0, and feeling confident with how the defense is playing.

8:17 PM - Michael Barrett drops a would-be interception on a screen .. Why can’t this defense force turnovers?

8:22 PM - Michigan State receiver Keon Coleman secures a 50/50 ball on Gemon Green twice over on their next drive. 7-3, Spartans. The panic has returned.

8:27 PM - End of one, Spartans fans are happy & slinging unintelligible grunts of happiness. We are frustrated.

8:32 PM - Blame Corum is starting to cook and the first flea flicker of the year makes an appearance!! Wolverines driving.

8:38 PM - Corum in for the “receiving” touchdown on a beautiful play design with more uses of motion than a Juvenile song!

8:49 PM - The Spartans answer with a long drive deep into Michigan territory and with a chance to tie, they opt for another fourth down conversion.


9:06 PM - UGH again Michigan drives the length of the field and can’t punch it in. 13-7.

9:11 PM - The Wolverines jump offside on 4th and 3 .. Location, Spain without the S.

9:13 PM - Andddd it doesn’t matter. U-M up 13-7, nice close to the half after the dumb penalty.

HALFTIME THOUGHTS: Zero punts in the first half in a 13-7 game feels uniquely weird. Michigan’s offense is driving every time they touch the ball, just have to cap off drives. Spartans are physical and selling out for the run with alternating two-deep zone overages in the back end, determined to eliminate deep shots.

Defensively, U-M cannot get isolated for deep balls and has to do a better job with pressures. A MSU woman behind me just asked if Michigan’s marching band was playing a song from Instagram? Jesus take the wheel.

9:45 PM - Michigan drives, Michigan field goal. Take a drink. 16-7, Wolverines.

9:50 PM - Three-and-out! The Wolverines are starting to double Jayden Reed and Coleman with constant safety help.

9:59 PM - Michigan drives, Michigan field goal, take another drink. 19-7, Wolverines.

10:06 PM - Another Michigan State three-and-out. Take a drink?

10:07 PM - TROUBLE WITH THE SNAP. I have waited seven years to shout this.

10:10 PM - End of three quarters and both teams are trading three’s. Michigan is capping off drives exclusively with field goals in the second half and the Spartans are going three-and-out on every possession. Fair trade.

10:16 PM - Michigan drives and kicker Jake Moody kicks a 54-yard BOMB. Take a drink out of respect. Also heard a new nickname in the stands... Big Booty Moody. Yeah, jury is still out on that one.

10:19 PM - Michigan State three-and-out and AGAIN TROUBLE WITH THE SNAP !!!!!!

10:20 PM - CORUM TUDDY!!! Don’t you know pump it up?!

10:27 PM - Moment of silence, the Spartans have achieved their first, first down of the second half.

10:31 PM - The Spartans just punted. Submission.

10:52 PM - Michigan State is keeping starters in to drive for charity points. “Little brother” chants are raining down.

10:53 PM - Rod Moore ices any chance of the Spartans losing with dignity. Pass this man the Buffs!

11:00 PM - $95 million and 365 days of pride before the fall. Yes, it was expected, but because it’s Michigan State, because it’s a rivalry, tonight’s win means more.