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Quarterbacks Payton Thorne, Cade McNamara Discuss MSU-UM Rivalry At Big Ten Media Days

Good insight from the Spartan and Wolverines signal-callers...

Michigan State and Michigan won't battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy until Oct. 29, a full nine weeks into the 2022 college football season.

However, even as the Spartans and Wolverines prepare for the start of fall camp and their respective season-openers, both programs have their in-state rivals on their mind.

At Big Ten Media Days, both Michigan State and Michigan sent their 2021 starting quarterbacks to represent their programs. On Tuesday, U-M's Cade McNamara said the Wolverines have been thinking about the Spartans throughout the year.

“Well, yeah, we’re going to want to win that game," McNamara said. "There are some games that you think about maybe that week or whatever it is, and then there are some teams that you think about all year – when you’re working out, when you’re conditioning – and Michigan State is one of those teams. And we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that we don’t lose that game.”

On Wednesday, Payton Thorne responded with what Michigan State's mindset is heading into the 2022 rendition of the Battle for Paul Bunyan, coming off back-to-back wins in the rivalry game.

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“I’d say my mindset is the same," Thorne said. "It’s still – that’s a huge game on our schedule, not just because it’s a rivalry, but because they’re a good team and we’re a good team. So, it means something in the grand scheme of things.”

There's a lot of work to do between now and Oct. 29, and the Spartans have bigger goals beyond just winning the Paul Bunyan Trophy again in 2022. Thorne knows that, but he also knows the importance of the emphasis that Michigan State puts on that r

“When that week comes, we’ll be ready to play and that game means a lot to us, and our fans, and our former players," Thorne said. "So, I don’t think our mindset’s changed at all. I think it’s the same as it always is.”

Thorne struggled against the Wolverines' pass defense a year ago. The redshirt junior completed 19-of-30 pass attempts for 196 yards, but threw a pair of first-half interceptions. Thorne rebounded to make some key throws down the stretch in the second half however, aiding MSU's comeback.

McNamara, meanwhile, had his best performance in a Michigan uniform against the Spartans' woeful secondary. McNamara threw for a career-high 383 yards while completing 28-of-44 pass attempts. He had two touchdown passes, but an interception on the Wolverines final drive sealed the win for MSU.

Michigan State has won 10 of the last 15 matchups beginning in 2007, when former head coach Mark Dantonio first took over the program. Tucker is the first coach in MSU history to win his first two games against the Wolverines.