I've resisted the urge to write anything about the rivalry game taking place in Ann Arbor, Mich. just a few short, overcast hours from now. And I think I know why.
I'm too nervous and scared.
For the past six falls the Michigan Wolverines have found a way to defeat my Michigan State Spartans. They've done it by blowing out out lame-duck coaches, like in 2002. They've done it by dominating the line of scrimmage, like in 2003. And they've done it by ripping the heart out of green-and-white chests and stomping on it, like in 2005.
Long the little brother to the winningest program in history, Michigan State has always been the underdog. It's a role we relish, especially when it affords us the chance to take down the top-rated team in their Big House -- with a little help from a turf monster. But this year seems to be different. The Spartans are 6-2 with one of the most explosive running backs in the nation and the Wolverines are undergoing extreme growing pains under first-year coach Rich Rodriguez. All of this adds up to State being a 4-point favorite on the road. What?
It's scary to have the expectations. It's scary to know that people think Mark Dantonio has the better team. But the scariest part is knowing that if Michigan were to win, it'd be the most painful loss of them all.
So perhaps that's why I avoided talking about the bulletin board material Wolverine defensive end Brandon Graham provided earlier this week. Or why I haven't been basking in the Michigan losses to Toledo and Utah at home. The old maxim that records can be thrown out the window in rivalry games is so true, especially in this case.
The ominous feeling has set in and I want it to go away so bad.
One time, Sparty. One time. That's all we ask.