Sparty Yes! - Leon Halip
Preparations for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl is in full swing now, but what do we really know about our opponents? Michigan State University is another venerable institution, and knowing them better is the first step to beating them worse.
It's been a while for the Getting to Know U series, but with a new university popping up on the schedule it's time once again for an in depth look at the facts, stats, trivia and history of our opponents- The Big Ten's own Michigan State Spartans.
Tale of the Tape: Michigan State University (Formerly Agricultural College of the State of Michigan, State Agricultural College, Michigan Agricultural College, Michigan State College- That's a lot of names)
Location: East Lansing, Michigan
Stadium: Spartan Stadium (Named for their mascot, something that's become increasingly rare in sports)
Overall Record: 641-431-44. The Spartans are well above .500 all time, putting them in good company in the Big Ten- only two member universities are below .500 all time, Indiana and Northwestern.
Championships: Six claimed National Championships (1951, 1952, 1955, 1957, 1965 and 1966), and nine conference championships (two Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association championships, seven Big Ten Championships)
Conference History: Joined Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association from 1896-1907, Independent from 1908-1948, joined the Big Ten from 1949-present.
Rivals: Michigan Wolverines in the battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy, Notre Dame Fighting Irish for the Megaphone Trophy, Indiana Hoosiers for the Old Brass Spitoon and Penn State Nittany Lions for the Land Grant Trophy. Man, that's a lot of trophies. The Wolverine rivalry is the one that really popularized the "Little Brother" moniker for the State/A&M schools (being Texans, I'm sure we can all think of another "Little Brother" who is a bit more demented/obsessed) when Michigan tailback Mike Hart called the Spartans little brother in 2007. The Wolverines lead the overall series at about a 2:1 clip, with a record of 68-32-5, but the Spartans have won four of the last five as the Wolverines have struggled through the spread debacle. It really is similar to the Texas/A&M rivalry, as the big state university considers an out of state institution it's arch-rival, while the smaller (but still large) state university is more of an afterthought (unless they lose). Michigan State trails in the Megaphone rivalry with Notre Dame as well, 46-28-1, but the Spartans were slow starters in that one, winning just three times from 1897-1949. Since 1950 the series is much more even, but Notre Dame's ACC member-but-not-really arrangement may end the rivalry before long. The Spartans also have a "rivalry" with the Indiana Hoosiers which the Spartans absolutely dominate, leading the series 42-11-2, but it's not a game where a win will silence an upset fanbase though- which is practically the definition of a rivalry. Finally, when Penn State joined the conference it was determined that as they were the two Big Ten universities with "State" in the title that the Spartans and Nittany Lions should be rivals. Immediately a sixth grader went into his shop class and crafted this... thing for the two universities to play for. So keep in mind that the Big Ten loves trophies, and for every Little Brown Jug (for my money the coolest rivalry trophy in sports) there is a Land Grant Trophy to balance it out. The Spartans "lead" the Land Grant series 5-4 as a result of Penn State's vacated wins, but thanks to the divisional split the series is on hiatus and with the Maryland/Rutgers additions who knows when the teams will play again. Despite the dubious nature of the series lead, the Spartans do currently possess the trophy and will probably get to keep it for a long time to come.
You may remember them from such TCU games as: TCU has played Michigan State exactly once, in 1953 where a very bad (3-7) TCU team traveled to East Lansing to play the defending national champion Spartans, and gave them a good show before falling 26-19. Both Michigan State and TCU have fairly full non-conference schedules ahead for the next decade or so, so this will be your only chance to see the Frogs avenge their loss to the Spartans until we meet in 2027 as members of the Big Ten conference- which will have 64 members by that point, but will still call themselves the Big Ten.
Have they been looking at other conferences?: The Big Ten is where the money is, and is definitely the one driving the bus on the whole conference realignment thing. There's no conference more stable and wealthy, so MSU isn't going anywhere.
What else is "need to know" about Michigan State University?: Michigan State hates Michigan, but Michigan did try to stop them from being created... a large number of times. MSU actually ended up being the first land grant college, predating our former conference mates Arkansas, Texas A&M and Colorado State, as well as current Big 12 members Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and West Virginia. Michigan State is also quite good at that whole Basketball thing that some people seem to enjoy. Maybe someday, Basketfrog fans. Maybe someday.