12 The Michigan Daily - Friday, October 8, 1999
While the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry doesn't have the national notoriety of other rivalries, it sure gets
its share of publicity in Michigan. And for good reason, as the two schools have provided many memories. *
By T.J. Berka Daily Sports Editor
The Michigan-Michigan State rivalry, while high on emotion and neighborly
feuding, has been low on key national games in comparison to rivalries such as
Michigan-Ohio State or Michigan-Notre Dame.
But like any other intense rivalry, there have been moments that have defined
the battles between the Wolverines and Spartans. Out of the 91 contests
between the two schools, I tried to pick the 10 best Michigan-Michigan State
games of all time.
It was a tough task, but after much research, I finally trimmed it down from 91
Without further ado - drumroll please - the top
State games of all time.
MICHIGAN 13, MICHIGAN STATE 7
SEPT. 25, 1948
After winning the national champi-
onship the season before, the
Wolverines travel to East Lansing to
play Michigan State College at
Macklin Field, the Spartans' brand
The Spartans had lost their three pre-
vious games to Michigan by scores of
40-0, 55-7, and 55-0, so when Dick
Rifenberg caught a touchdown pass
from Tom Peterson four minutes into
the game to make the score 6-0, it
looked as if it could be another
But the Michigan State defense stiff-
ened and the game turned into a defen-
But in the beginning of the fourth
quarter, Lynn Chandois hit Henry
Minarik with a touchdown pass to put
the Spartans up 7-6. It looked as if
Michigan defensive back Wally
Teninga got the interception, but the
officials awarded the touchdown to
Peterson eventually put the
Wolverines on top to stay with a five-
yard run later in the quarter, but this
game put the rivalry in the state's con-
sciousness to stay.
paign took off in
game No. 4 in our
list, as he made
ception while tip-
No. 8 MICHIGAN 16, No. 15 MICHIGAN STATE 6
SEPT. 11, 1975
/No. 2 MICHIGAN STATE 9, No. 5 MICHIGAN 0
*Ocr. 6, 1956
In a rare meeting in which both the
Wolverines and Spartans were ranked,
Michigan was carried by running
backs Gordon Bell and Rob Lytle to
On a chilly afternoon at Spartan
Stadium, the Wolverines and Spartans
played to a hard-hitting 6-6 draw
through three quarters. Michigan's
Bob Wood and Michigan State's Hans
Nielsen each kick two field goals.
But Bell - who ran for 11 1 yards
on the day - put the Wolverines
ahead with a 19-yard run in the fourth
quarter. Wood hit a 25-yard field goal
to close the scoring and send State to
its sixth straight loss to the
Michigan ran for 258 yards - IlI
for Bell and 105 for Lytle -to wear
out the Spartans.
During a monsoon at Michigan
Stadium, the Spartans sloshed by the
Wolverines in the only contest in which
both Michigan and Michigan State were
ranked in the top five.
The record crow d of 101, 001 -unde-
terred by the terrible weather - watched
the Wolverines and Spartans battle for
field position. Michigan State finally won
the battle, as John Matsko kicked a 20-
yard field goal halfway through the third
quarter to open the scoring.
The teams continued to struggle on
offense until the Spartans recovered a
Michigan fumble. Backup running back
Dennis Mendyk put the nail in the cof-
fin in the fourth quarter, running for a
four-yard touchdown run.
This game started an eight-game
unbeaten streak for the Spartans over
No. 7 MICHIGAN 17 No. 9 MICHIGAN STATE 10
Oct. 10, 1964
Ists hard to believe that any game
could top the 1990 debacle. But as
far as situations go, this game did.
The Wolverines came into the game
having not beaten the Spartans since
1955. Only a 12-12 tie in 1957 was
Michigan State's only blemish during
It seemed as if 1964 was going to be
the same old thing in this series. The
Spartans had a 10-3 lead heading into
the fourth quarter and if linebacker
Tom Cecchini hadn't forced two
Michigan State fumbles deep in
Michigan territory, the deficit would
have been much worse.
*BBut Michigan still had life going into
the final quarter at Michigan Stadium.
And halfback Rick Sygar was sure to
make the Spartans pay for it.
With seven minutes remaining in the
game, Sygar caught a touchdown pass
from quarterback John Timberlake to
bring the Wolverines within one point
} at 10-9.
sfThe Wolverines missed the tying
extra point though, and it looked as if
the spell that State had upon Michigan
was bound to continue.
But the Wolverines got the ball back
and drove it down to the Michigan State
31 with less than three minutes to go.
On the next play. Sygar took a hand-
off from Timberlake and circled to the
right. After running toward the right hash-
mark, Sygar set his feet and threw>a pass.
The pass landed in the hands of
flanker John Henderson, who raced
into the end zone to put the Wolverines
up, 15-10, with 2:33 left in the game.
The ensuing two-point conversion
bumped the score to 17-10.
FILE PHOTO Sygar and the Wolverines had bro-
Bill Henderson's 31-yard touchdown reception on a halfback option from Rick Sygar culminated a Michigan comeback ken the jinx. The eight-game winless
from a 10-3 deficit and provided us the top Michigan-Michigan State game of all time. streak was over.
MICHIGAN STATE 17, No. 12 MICHIGAN 11
The Spartans intercepted Michigan
quarterback Demetrius Brown seven
times and got 185 yards rushing from
Lorenzo White to upset the Wolverines.
White scored two touchdowns in the
first half to help spur Michigan State to
a 14-3 lead. Brown kept throwing the
ball to Michigan State safety John
Miller - who had four interceptions on
the day - to quell Michigan momen-
Brown finally did get the Wolverines
back in the game in the fourth quarter,
throwing a touchdown pass to Jamie
Morris and the subsequent two-point
conversion to John Kolesar to bring the
Wolverines within three.
After John Langeloh put State up 17-
11. Brown looked as if he was going to
lead Michigan to a improbable win. But
he severely underthrew a pass to Greg
McMurtry at the Michigan State 10 and
safety Harlon Barnett intercepted it to
kill the Michigan threat.
The Spartans eventually won the
Rose Bowl in 1987:
No. 5 MICIGAN 10, No. 21 MICHIGAN STATE 0
Oct. 14, 1989
This game was a tale of two halves,
as Michigan dominated the first half but
was forced to hold on for dear life in the
The Wolverines, led by Tony Boles
and Leroy Hoard, ran for 129 yards
against the Spartans in the first half. A
Hoard touchdown -- coupled with a
J.D. Carlson field goal - gave
Michigan a 10-0 lead at halftime.
Michigan State quickly scores in the
second half to make the score 10-7.
After that, the Wolverines survive a
The Spartans penetrated the Michigan
20 three other times in the second half
but came up empty. Langeloh missed a
35-yard field goal and had a 37-yard.
field goal blocked.
And finally, with 10 minutes to go,
Michigan safety Tripp Welborne stuffed
Blake Ezor on a fourth-and-one play in
the fourth quarter to kill the Spartans for
5 MICHIGAN STATE 28, No.7 MICHIGAN 25
Nov. 4, 1995
In Nick Saban's first year as
Michigan State head coach, the Spartans
needed a big victory to start to reemerge
as a Big-Ten contender. On a frigid
evening in East Lansing, Saban got it.
The Spartans took a 14-3 lead into
halftime, and defensive tackle William
Carr ran three yards for a touchdown in
the third quarter to cut the lead to 14-11
after three quarters.
And that's when all hell broke loose.
Tshimanga Biakabutuka scored on an
I1-yard run to give Michigan its first
lead. Greene answered with a one-yard
run to put the Spartans back on top.
Michigan took back the lead when
No.1 MICHIGAN 27
Wolverines back down the field. With
four seconds to go in the game, Grbac
hit Derrick Alexander with a six-yard
touchdown pass to bring Michigan with-
in one point.
But instead of going for the extra
point and the tie, coach Gary Moeller
went for the two-point conversion and
Brian Griese hit Mercury Hayes for a
25-yard touchdown pass.
On the next drive, Tony Banks drove
the Spartans downfield. On the drive,
Charles Woodson missed an easy inter-
ception, which turned into a 22-yard
reception by Derrick Mason. Mason also
caught an 1-yard pass on fourth-and-11.
The officials gave Mason a first
down, although replays seemed to indi-
cate that he was short. In arguing the
call, Michigan drew a 15-yard unsports-
manlike conduct penalty. The Spartans,'
spurred by that luck, got the victory
when Banks threw a 24-yard scoring
pass to Nigea Carter with 1:24 left.
No. 5 MICHIGAN 23,
No.15 MICHIGAN STATE 7
Ocr. 25, 1997
This game made the top four for one reason - Charles
The cornerback intercepted Michigan State quarterback
Todd Schultz twice, including a remarkable one-hand side-
line pick at the Spartan 20 which still makes highlight shows
to this day.
That play, and his interception in front of Octavis Long,
No.12 MICHIGAN STATE 14
Ocr. 12, 1968
The Spartans had come into the game with a streak of dom-
ination against the Wolverines, going 10-1-1 in the last 12
meetings against Michigan.
Michigan State, as was the norm against the Wolverines,
dominated the time-of-possession battle. On the afternoon, the
Spartans ran 90 plays to Michigan's 55.
But the Wolverines held a 13-6 lead for the first two-and-a-
2 MICHIGAN STATE 28
The Wolverines, with a fresh No. 1
ranking, participated in one of the more
controversial games in this series. The
last play of this game at Michigan
Stadium is still debated to this day..
Michigan had a chance to break a 14-
14 tie before halftime, but kicker J.D.
Carlson missed a 30-yard field goal4 a
miss that would prove to be fatal later.