In recent years, the Ohio State and Michigan State games have been some of the most important games in the Big Ten. Their match-ups have featured two very drastic ideologies, schools, and fanbases. The struggle has been with the entire Big Ten, but Michigan State has seemingly been the conference’s only hope of dethroning the perpetual monster that Urban Meyer has crafted in Columbus.
The question about these match-ups, however, is are these actual rivalry games? Or is the perpetual state of importance for these match-ups going to create animosity and possibly a new budding rivalry?
The answer to that question lies within this match-up on Saturday. Unlike what some people believe in the south of the state, there is a possibility for a program to have more than one key rivalry. Alabama, USC, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, and Florida State are all proof that this can happen when two schools have a history of relevant and substantial match-ups. The Spartans and Mark Dantonio have never been one to turn away from a challenge. November 21st, 2015 may arguably be the biggest challenge that the Spartans have faced under their fearless leader. A victory could spark something magical for the Spartans, and also a lot of hate in Colombus.
This has already occurred once before when the Spartans crushed the dreams of Buckeye Nation in the Big Ten Title Game in 2013. A power
house Buckeyes team led by Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde could not stop the destined Spartans from going to the Rose Bowl and finishing #3 in the nation by season’s end.
That is the narrative of these match-ups and that could easily become the precursor to a major OSU-MSU rivalry. The Spartans being that annoying pest at the constant hopes of a National Title could get Ohio State to truly draw its ire toward East Lansing. With the Buckeyes really being the only thing stopping the Spartans year in and year out under Dantonio, many in the Spartan nation already have a great deal of animosity toward the Buckeyes. The fans, the attitude, and the SEC-style of play all add to a formula to truly hate the Buckeyes from such a blue-color program and its fans.
Michigan State has to work to get their success. They bring in lower star talent and coach them up to win in a bruising offensive and defensive system that has had great success since Dantonio took over. Dantonio having his roots within the Buckeyes program also solidifies his fearlessness in the face of such a dominating program. He isn’t afraid to butt heads with a team consisting of far more talent, speed, and athleticism. That’s simply the Dantonio way. To never back down from a fight, no matter the odds. The fans have been through thick and thin and have always supported the grittiness of Sparty and his squad. Everyone knows that Dantonio and his team like to always play themselves off as the underdogs whenever they can, and these fights with Ohio State could be just the narrative Dantonio craves. The team is the epitome of what many Michiganders love; the blue-collar, homegrown team that fights for every yard and always proves all the doubters wrong.
Ohio State, on the other hand, is the epitome of a dynasty. Their fans span the entirety of the United States. Many within their ranks have no association to the university whatsoever and latch on solely based on their dominant success. Their style of play simulates a way of football that is practically banned in the Midwest. They are able to pump out successful and athletic players year after year with no low. The worst their fans have had to endure? A mediocre 6-7 campaign under current defensive coordinator Luke Fickel after a bevy of NCAA violations and accusations. Simply by breathing, the Buckeyes are able to get a host of five-star recruits and a team that could easily win 10 games on talent alone.
The differences are obvious and could create a compelling clash of personalities. The “blue collar” Spartans, led by perpetual underdog Mark Dantonio, against college football royalty Urban Meyer and his Scarlet and Silver laced dynasty in the Horseshoe. The battle is set and is ready to explode into something that could cause a seismic rift not only in the Big Ten, but in the national landscape of college football as well. If the game becomes a real struggle, we might be on the verge of the next great rivalry in College Football. The rest of the Big Ten better be on watch when these two drastically different, but equally powerful, giants clash on Saturday.
And besides, even if we don’t start hating each other, there’s always the Wolverines to draw our anger and rage.