Rivalry Tales: Greg Skrepenak

Former Michigan offensive lineman Greg Skrepenak shares some tales of the Michigan and Michigan State rivalry.

Former Michigan offensive lineman Greg Skrepenak was a two-time All American for the Wolverines from 1987-1991 under legendary head coach Bo Schembechler. Skrepenak was also a team captain, four-year starter, four-time Big Ten Champions, participated in three Rose Bowls and named the Gator Bowl MVP.

Skrepenak also boasted a 3-1 record against rival Michigan State.

The Michigan Insider reached out to Skrepenak to give us a tale of the rivalry. Below is the transcript of our conversation:

"It's a hard question because you go into different years and there's different things that happen. The things that stand out in my mind isn't really my favorite memory. Overall my record was 3-1 against them when I'm played, so that's what I'm proudest of most. We're 3-1 against them but the only problem was the one we lost pretty much cost us a shot at the national title that year because we'd lose back-to-back one point games against Michigan State and then Iowa the next week. We were ranked number one in the country going into the State game and we got down but we battled back late in the game, Desmond had a kickoff return, we battled back and then the final seconds we went for two and then he was interfered with. He probably caught the ball long enough but he was interfered with, too, never called. I thought he caught it and I ran there thinking that he had caught it to celebrate then all of a sudden the wind was taken out of my sail. To lose to them, I guess that's the thing I remember the most."

"My favorite memory? I tell you, it's a hard thing. Going up to East Lansing and beating them in East Lansing was always fun. There's always futility there towards Michigan and it was just one of those things, when you were leaving campus you'd see things burning all over the place like, holy cow, this is burning over here and this is burning over there, I don't know if that's trashcans or whatever. Things are being ripped down and everything like that. It was really our roster against all the Michigan State people and we're only an hour away. I remember when we were going up there the one time, East Lansing is only an hour away and we took a bus. It was the only place we took a bus to for games. I guess we were running a little late and we had a police escort and stuff and all of a sudden to get things going, the highway was backed up, we get going and literally the two lanes open up in the middle, we're actually traveling between both lanes to get to the stadium. It was like, holy cow, you know how serious this is when you're on the highway and the cars are opening up, you're literally traveling on the line as the cars are opening up both ways. You knew it was an important game when not only the cops did that but even the fans got out of the way so we could get to the stadium. It's up loud up there, too. East Lansing is loud. It's one of the loudest stadiums I've played in. Really going up there and playing against them and beating them there is somethig I'll cherish a lot and, of course, the one game that we lost will always haunt me. But we won three games against them, they always had big players.

"I remember, and I wasn't even on the ball, *laughs* this stands out to me because it was so funny. This is when Tony Mandarich was playing. We end up beating them that year anyway, it was a low-scoring game. They end up at the goalline, we had a linebacker, his name was John Milligan, and John soaking wet was a little over 200-pounds. He was a tough, gritty guy and played a lot. He was in there and they stuck Mandarich in the backfield as a fullback *laughs*. They're on the goalline and Milligan was the guy he was going to block and Milligan, like I said, is a smaller guy. All of the sudden, they didn't even score on the play, but you see Mandarich just kill him *laughs*. That's something we can laugh about to this day because we won the game, we end up going there and winning the game and moving forward. It's something that I'll never forget because it was so funny because it was like 'oh my god,' *laughs*. Not only did he get hit pretty good but he doesn't realize that it's Mandarich who lines up at fullback. That was something that got rolled back in film a couple-hundred times *laughs*."

"Overall, what really stands out after all those games. It's not really anything that happens on the field, it's the year-long bragging rights that you have. People don't understand, if you're outside of Michigan, people really don't understand the intensity of this rivalry. You can't say it beats Ohio State, no, Ohio State is Michigan's greatest rival. But Michigan State comes in there at a very, very, very close second. And Michigan State has, for years, always played the role of the disrespect. Even after winning the last six out of seven, they're still playing the role of disrespect. If they ever won, Michigan State would brag for a year long. They would just rub it in for a year long and you couldn't wait to get back on the field to play them. When we won the three times that we won, we weren't the type to rub it in because we expect to win. It was nice to quiet them. When you beat State, you quiet them, and that's the best part of it. There's been some great games, some of them have been low scoring. A lot of them have been close. I think our senior year we got them pretty decent. My senior year we beat them up a little bit. It's going to be a fun atmosphere on Saturday, I'll tell you that."


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