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From 'little brother' to 'trouble with a snap,' a history of the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry

Jalen Watts-Jackson
Posted at 11:27 AM, Oct 26, 2021

(WXYZ) — The Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans will face off on Saturday afternoon at Spartan Stadium, the 114th time the two teams have played each other for the in-state rivalry.

Michigan is ranked 6th in the country and the Spartans are ranked 8th, and this is the first time the two teams will play each other in the top 10 since 1964. That's when No. 4 Michigan beat No. 9 Michigan State 17-10.

The Wolverines lead the series 71-37-5, and their largest margin of victory came during the 119-0 win in 1902, when Michigan State was known as Michigan Agricultural College.

Going back to 2010, Michigan State has been leading the series with seven wins, including upset victories last year and in 2017, both at The Big House.

There have also been some huge stories to come out of games over the last 20 years.

In 2001, there was "clockgate" and "Spartan Bob" with the Spartans winning the game 26-24 after the clock stopped with one second left, allowing the Spartans to score.

Michigan star Braylon Edwards had a huge game in 2004 as the Wolverines came back and won 45-37 in three overtimes. Edwards had 189 yards receiving and three touchdowns, including the final touchdown in triple OT.

2007 brought the "little brother" controversy after the Wolverines won the game 28-24.

“I was just laughing. I thought it was funny. (The Spartans) got excited, it’s good. Sometimes you get your little brother excited when you’re playing basketball and let him get the lead. Then you just come back and take it back," Michigan running back Mike Hart said after the game.

Michigan State's defense took charge in the 2013 game which they won 29-6, holding Michigan to just two field goals.

The Wolverines rushed for -48 yards with QB Devin Gardner getting sacked seven times. It was the worst rushing performance in the team's history.

A year later, Michigan linebacker Joe Bolden drove a stake into the ground of Spartan Stadium's field, angering Michigan State. The Spartans dominated the game 35-11 and added a final touchdown late because of the stake incident.

2015 may be the best-known game in the history of the rivalry. Bring up "trouble with the snap" to any Michigan or MSU fan and they'll have a memory of what happened.

In Jim Harbaugh's first game, the Wolverines were ranked 12th and Spartans ranked 7th, and Michigan led the entire game. They took the 23-21 lead into the fourth quarter, and Michigan was forced to punt with just 10 seconds left.

Michigan punter Blake O'Neill struggled and had "trouble with the snap," as called by Sean McDonough, and fumbled the ball. Michigan State's Jalen Watts-Jackson picked up the ball and ran it into the end zone on the final play of the game, giving the Spartans a 27-23 victory.

The Spartans were the underdog last year by more than three touchdowns, but beat the Wolverines 27-24, giving Mel Tucker his first win against the Wolverines in his first year as head coach.