Michigan State is viewed as being on the rise coming off a Rose Bowl and Big Ten championship season, while Michigan has a coach whose job is in question.
But come Saturday, none of that will matter.
”We could be 0-5 going into the game, they could be No. 1 in the country and it's going to be a tight game,” quarterback Connor Cook said. “You have that with rivalry games.”
The Spartans enter Saturday as a Top 10 team with a 6-1 (3-0 Big Ten) record with a lone loss at Oregon. The Wolverines bring in a 3-4 (1-2) record to start the 2014 season after a 7-6 203 campaign.
Still, the rivalry has not lost any of its luster, coach Mark Dantonio said.
”Not for me, not for our players and I'm sure not for them,” he said. “I think it's the same.”
A part of the reason why it has not lost any luster in spite of some struggles for Michigan of late is the emphasis Dantonio puts on the game, senior Travis Jackson said.
”It's a battle for the state,” Jackson said. “It's one of those games that you can throw the records out the window. It's one of those games where you come out and both teams play so hard.”
And even though Michigan State has won five of the past six, that has not done anything to lessen the intensity with what the Spartans approach this game.
“It doesn't matter if you have a losing record or a winning record,” defensive end Shilique Calhoun said, “you always bring passion to that game and there is always some life in that game that can make or break your season.”