The Michigan/Michigan State game week is the single most stressful week of my sports year. Friends become enemies, and enemies become friends. It's an intense occasion. If not for the fact that Barstool is doing their college football show from Ann Arbor again this year, I don't even think I'd attend the game. Does this make me a giant pussy? Probably, but this isn't a week I ever really look forward to. If Michigan wins, it's all worth it, but they've had a hard time doing that over the last 14 years.
Over the last 14 years, I've seen Michigan lose this game ten times. I've seen them lose to Michigan State teams that were better than them, I've seen them lose to Michigan State teams that they had no business losing to, and I've seen them lose heartbreakingly. I still shiver when I hear the words "Trouble with the snap." Last year Michigan was in control of that football game into the second half, but the best Michigan football team in over two decades simply could not stop Kenneth Walker. In fairness, a lot of people couldn't stop Kenneth Walker last year, and a lot of people are having trouble controlling him in the NFL. But it was, at the time, a gut-wrenching loss for a team that ultimately got off the mat and ended up winning a Big Ten championship.
This year is different. Michigan is a better football team than Michigan State. They have better running backs, a better offensive line, a better defense. But we can talk about the peripherals all day long. You can dissect the matchups and try to find mismatches, but I'm telling you that weird shit always happens in this game. MSU could be 0-7, and they'd still scare me.
I always hear the same things from Michigan people about this game as it pertains to the Michigan State side.
"This is the only game they care about."
"This is their Super Bowl."
Okay..and? Are you not legally allowed to punch back figuratively? Can't you have more than one rival? And that 21.5-point spread scares the hell out of me. This game should never have a point spread over 10 points. I don't care how bad one side has played throughout the season. I've seen this movie before, but this one is different. There is no reason Michigan shouldn't win this game. I also know that I've said that before and gotten my heart ripped out.
Michigan football has found itself in the midst of an unexpected renaissance over the last season and a half. They're 19-2 in their last 21 games. Jim Harbaugh, who, two years ago, seemed to have totally lost it, has found it again. But if Michigan loses this game, every ounce of goodwill that he's built up over the last two years will be gone. I'm aware that their goals will still be in front of them no matter what, but the whole "the only thing that matters is Ohio State" narrative is such a cop-out. I'm a Michigan fan that grew up in Lansing. I bleed for this game. The records mean nothing at this point. They best come correctly. Dominate the goddamn game.