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For Those of Us in the Spartan Nation, this Weekend's Civil War between Michigan State and Michigan is REALLY Personal

So it’s Michigan week. The gloves are officially off between friends, cousins, siblings and coworkers. Saturday determines bragging rights for another year.  It will either be another notch in the Dantonio rebuilding project or it will end what was already an amazing run of three in a row against the Wolverines.

The major media outlets are in love with the Wolverines. To their credit, Michigan has been fun to watch. Their offense has been explosive and their defense has been good enough to put their offense back on the field when they have needed another miracle. I suspect that the miracles will come to an end for the Wolverines this weekend.

Nothings new. Michigan’s quarterback won the September Heisman trophy for the third year in a row.  Tate Forcier was the winner three years ago and of course Dennard has won the September Heisman back-to-back years. The Wolverines are undefeated heading into the MSU game, just like they were the last three years before running into the green buzz saw.

I grew up in one of those small farming communities in the Thumb of Michigan. My high school class boasted three Wolverines and four Spartans, but everyone had an allegiance and the overwhelming majority was raised on Wolverine football.  It was obnoxious. I still find myself bristled when I visit the local bar back home and see the same Wal-Mart Wolverines holding down their barstools. It has been twenty years since I lived in eastern Michigan and this week still brings with it anxiety, feelings of pure and utter hatred, rage, excitement and every emotion in between.

I live in Maryland now and still find myself a muttering four letter words under my breath at the mere sight of a Michigan bumper sticker. It is still personal. It will always be personal. This is precisely why there are certain people in my own family this week that I will not communicate with. When MSU wins its fourth in a row this weekend, it won’t be talked about in the family line at Thanksgiving. Nothing will be said and it won’t need to be. They’ll just know.

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No one can dispute whether or not Brady Hoke is bringing the Wolverines along. They are far better than they were a year ago. Problem for Michigan is that MSU’s defense is as well. As much as MSU affected Robinson last season. I could see them hitting him even more this year.

That MSU front seven is special. It kind of reminds me of the defensive fronts Michigan used to field before they ran Lloyd out of town. MSU’s secondary is greatly improved as well. Dennard will not get away with ridiculous errant throws against this MSU defense. The athletes are there at every position to take one back to the house.

MSU has not played up to their full potential yet this season. This is a scary reality if you’re a Wolverine fan. Michigan can’t play a whole lot better than they did against Northwestern or Notre Dame for that matter.  Michigan will have to play a near perfect game to beat MSU this weekend. I’m not going to say it won’t happen, but a Michigan victory in Spartan Stadium against this ‘Duzzi defense is a long shot.

If MSU is able to get the running game on track, it is lights out for the Wolverines. I suspect that the extra week really helped get MSU settled and prepared. It also had to help solidify the offensive line a bit as well. They have struggled to run the ball consistently and this would be the week to make it happen. We’ll find out what MSU’s offensive line is made of this weekend. A solid 200 yards rushing spread between three backs would really bolster the confidence of this offense and Cousins in particular.

This weekend is about holding your head high for another year. It is about wearing your green proudly and not having to listen to some bandwagon Wolverine pour beer over themselves at the local tavern. It is about the smile when they tell you they went to UM Flint. It is about crushing the arrogance. It’s about stupid lines like… “This might sound arrogant, and if it is, it is… We’re Michigan, OK? We have a global education.”  Yeah Brady, so do we and guess what? Nobody outside of Ann Arbor cares, especially those of us that don green on Saturdays.

So put on your tailgatin’ shoes. Grab the cooler. Send the kids to Grandma’s. Get ready to do some screaming and serious hollering come Saturday. If you have any vocal chords left by the 3rd quarter, you probably aren’t doing your job.  It’s Michigan week damn it and Dino’s gonna make it four in a row.