October 29, 2003
By J. Brady McCollough
Daily Sports Editor
EAST LANSING - When asked what goes
through his mind when he lines up against the Maize
and Blue, Michigan State defensive end Greg Taplin
dropped the clich6s.
"I want to knock this joker out," Taplin said.
Taplin may not have been kidding about the "joker"
comment. He's expecting to have his way with one of
Michigan's offensive tackles, either Adam Stenavich
or Tony Pape.
"I think one of them is kind of slow, so I'm going to
try and exploit that," Taplin said.
If Taplin succeeds in exploiting this unnamed tack-
le, it will be up to Michigan quarterback John Navarre
to avoid the sack. And despite Navarre's flashy 36-
yard touchdown reception against Minnesota, Taplin
isn't too concerned about misfiring once he gets
Navarre in his sights.
"He's kind of like a sitting duck," Taplin said. "But
if that duck has too much time, he'll rip us apart. We
have to get to him and get to him fast."
That hasn't been much of a problem for the Big Ten-
leading Spartans this season. Michigan State leads the
conference in sacks with 34, thanks in part to Taplin
(six) and defensive tackle Matthias Askew (six).
Blue hopes t
Under new coach/"cow
Spartans' defensive liner
aged to do anything to get
"We're freer than last year
of like you had your gap a
gap (last year). This year, w
in the pass rush, go inside or
Speaking of last year,
Labinjo isn't going to act lik
tans' 49-3 embarrassment at
the Big House. In fact, her
game very clearly.
"It just seemed like even]1
trying to put more and mo
Labinjo said. "It was a signo
Labinjo doesn't think that
"I don't think they respec
I don't think they respect u
Does Michigan just see N
on the road to Pasadena?
"Yeah, pretty much," Lab
to compliment us (to ther
think they could care less ab
The Michigan State defe
boy" John L. Smith, the Ten in turnover margin (plus-15), is using this disre-
nen say they're encour- spect as a rallying cry. The Spartans don't mind that
to the opposing quarter- they're four-point underdogs to Michigan. They've
been underdogs all year.
," Taplin said. "It was kind "We could probably be ranked No. 1 in the country,
nd you had to stay in that and we'd still be underdogs against these guys," Labin-
ve can be more aggressive jo said. "People will always put Michigan ahead of
outside." Michigan State, and hopefully after this weekend that
senior linebacker Mike will change."
ke he's forgotten the Spar- The Spartans are expecting Michigan to stick with
t the hands of Michigan in the power game early. Their goal is to contain Chris
remembers the end of the Perry and force the "sitting duck" to beat them.
"If we can force them to throw a little more, our
late in the game, they were 'D'-line can do what they do," Labinjo said. "I think
ore points on the board," that if our 'D'-line can get some sacks, it's going to
of disrespect." change the game a lot"
Michigan's disrespect has Michigan State is shaping up to be the biggest sur-
prise team in all of college football. Smith's spread
t us," he said. "Personally, offense has helped, but without a defensive attitude
s at all even though we're adjustment, the Spartans wouldn't be staring at a Big
Michigan State as a bump "Last year, we were pretty much pummeled every
game," Labinjo said. "I think we have a lot of guys on
injo said. "They're going this defense that were good players even then, it's just
media), but personally, I that maybe the pieces didn't come together.
out us." "We've never pummeled these guys before. It
nse, which leads the Big would be nice if we could do that."
6-6-6 a good thing
"This year they're just deep. They going to take us a long way."
have players coming off the bench that Beating Notre Dame would keep
would be starting at other programs," Michigan above .500 for the season and
Rademacher said. "They're stronger than give it an almost certain bid to the
they've been in a couple years." NCAA Tournament. A loss would mean
Even though Michigan has never beat- that Michigan would have to win at least
en Notre Dame, it has come close. Last two games at the Big Ten Tournament to
year, the Fighting Irish eked out a one- earn an NCAA berth. A Big Ten champi-
goal win at the Varsity Soccer Field and onship would give Michigan an automat-
the year before, they needed overtime to ic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
top the Wolverines, 2-1. Surprise will probably be Michigan's
This year, though, because of Michi- best bet to pull off the upset tonight.
gan's plague of ties during the regular "I don't think they know our person-
season, a lot more than rivalry is resting nel as well as they have in the past,"
on the Notre Dame contest. Rademacher said. "We just need to be
"Obviously this (game) could be a sharp. I think the biggest thing for us is
season-changer and a program changer," to come out ready to play and not be
Rademacher said. "If we beat them that's intimidated."
Goin' to work
The first Michigan-Michigan State
game that I can consciously
remember is from when I was
eight years old.
There's probably a lot of other
Wolverines and Spartans fans who
remember that one, too.
That year, 1990, Michigan entered
the annual slugfest with its in-state
rivals ranked No. 1 in the country. Trail-
ing 28-21, Michigan scored with just a
few seconds left, and in the pre-over-
time NCAA football world, decided to
go for two and the win.
Desmond Howard, a year before his
Heisman Trophy win, beat Spartans
cornerback Eddie Brown in man-to-
man coverage and quarterback Elvis
Grbac threw a strike to Howard's No.
21 jersey. But Brown reached out,
grabbed Howard's foot and tripped him
(something Brown surprisingly admit-
ted to years later). When Howard
stumbled to the turf in the endzone, the
ball popped out. Michigan State
escaped with a victory.
Somewhere in my house is the jour-
nal that I was required to keep for my
third-grade class. My entry that week
included a fairly detailed drawing of the
play with the word "Cheaters!" written
Suffice it to say, I was immersed in
the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry.
Plenty of people will argue that
Michigan's biggest football rival is Ohio
State. And based on the number of
times that the two teams have battled for
the conference title during the final
week of the regular season, it would be
hard to argue against that statement.
Others will tell you that the hostility
in the Wolverines' matchups with Notre
Dame makes it Michigan's real rivalry.
That comes thanks in no small part to
the fact that the Irish and Wolverines are
the two winningest programs in college
But when it comes right down to it,
year in and year out, across every sport,
it's hard to ignore the animosity-fed bat-
tle lines drawn between Ann Arbor and
For those not hailing from the state
of Michigan, it's easy to see why Ohio
State or Notre Dame might stand out
more. There's more hype for Ohio
State, more tradition from Notre Dame.
But for those of us born and raised in
The Wolverine State (not the Spartan
State, mind you), it's hard to ignore
weekends like these.
Michigan fans look at Michigan State
like a thorn in their sides. The Spartans
dominated basketball for a few years,
but the losses in football are more
upsetting, because when Michigan State
wins, it's almost always an upset.
Michigan State fans think that Michi-
gan fans are "arrogant." Ask them, they
won't hesitate to tell you.
My roommate, Troy, would argue that
"they say we're cocky and think that
we're better than them - but that's only
because we are better than them and we
do think that."
I won't go that far, but one loss in this
football rivalry sets off more trash talk
than just about any other sporting event
you could name.
And while football is obviously in
the spotlight this week, the rivalry -
unlike other rivalries - is not just a
In basketball, Michigan's long-
awaited victory last year reignited
hostilities. For hockey matchups, Joe
Louis Arena in Detroit constantly
sells 18,000-plus tickets for those
itching to see the Wolverine-Spartan
duel. You name the sport, and the
crowd will show up and bring their
The Ohio State-Michigan rivalry and
the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry defi-
nitely hinge on the pigskin.
But for Michigan-Michigan State, it
could be horseshoes or shuffleboard and
someone might riot at the end.
Obviously, though, you don't need to
be from Michigan to understand the
enormity of the grudge match that will
take place Saturday.Witnessing the
Maize Rage guarding the Diag or
Michigan State band members protect-
ing their precious Sparty statue from
attacks are more than enough for a non-
Michigander to notice that this ain't your
friendly neighborhood game of catch.
Beating Notre Dame might mean
more historically, and a win over Ohio
State might wrap up a Big Ten title. But
when it comes to playing the Spartans,
there's the kingship of an entire state on
The winner on Saturday gets a year's
worth of insults to use.
The loser ... well, the losers can
always complain to their journals that
the winners cheated.
- Chris Burke nearly broke his hand
slamming it on the ground at the end of
the 2001 Michigan-Michigan State game,
but is better now and he can be reached at
By Melanie Kehler Dame already has 63 goals. Notre Dame
Daily Sports Writer (6-0-0 Big East, 18-0-1) is also undefeat-
ed at home and currently holds a 10-
The odds are against the Michigan game shutout streak.
women's soccer team. The But coach Debbie
Wolverines will be under-
dogs in every sense of the
word today when they take
on second-ranked Notre
The Wolverines' hopes of
qualifying for the NCAA
No. 2 Notre Dame
Tune: 4 p.m.
South Bend, Ind.
Rademacher doesn't mind.
"We're clearly the under-
dogs," Rademacher said.
"But that's good. That's
okay. We can go in and
maybe surprise them."
Notre Dame is an annual
Tournament will be riding on a match
against a team they have never beaten in
the nine-year history of the program. On
top of that, Michigan (4-2-4 Big Ten, 6-
6-6 overall) has struggled offensively this
year, scoring just 17 goals, while Notre
soccer powerhouse, but this year it is
tearing through the competition. The
Fighting Irish have beaten almost every
team they played by more than one goal,
and their only tie was against then-No.
SLIPPERY ROCK HAS ALWAYS FELT IT
WAS MICHIGAN'S BIGGEST RIVAL.
WE'D HAVE TO AGREE.
OF ANN ARBOR
734-747-9806 * 523 S. Main'All