Michigan vs. Michigan State rivalry: Records, last MSU win, streaks, more

University of Michigan Wolverines vs Michigan State Spartans
University of Michigan Wolverines vs Michigan State Spartans / Rick Stewart/GettyImages

In a tale as old as college football itself, the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry remains one of the most storied and contentious matchups in the sport. Known as the “Paul Bunyan Trophy” game, this annual clash between the University of Michigan Wolverines and the Michigan State University Spartans epitomizes the fierce competition and deeply rooted loyalties that define Big Ten football.

The rivalry between the Michigan Wolverines and the Michigan State Spartans dates back over 100 years, with the first game played in Ann Arbor on October 12, 1898. Saturday's matchup will be the 116th time they have met.

While Michigan has historically held the upper hand, boasting a 72-38-5 record against Spartans, Michigan State has pulled off some big wins, including their 37-33 comeback win against the Wolverines at home in 2021.

Michigan vs. Michigan State rivalry records, streaks, more

In the past ten years, Michigan State has narrowed the historical gap in the rivalry, claiming victory in six of the last 10 matchups and taking two of the last three games. This season presents a formidable challenge for the Spartans, who are still on the hunt for their inaugural conference win.

On the other side, Michigan enters the game undefeated, with each win coming by a margin of over 20 points. The Wolverines, however, are not without controversy; they are currently embroiled in drama surrounding head coach Jim Harbaugh and allegations of sign-stealing.

Both teams aim to put the past behind them following a post-game altercation in the tunnel of Michigan Stadium that resulted in disciplinary action. Eight Spartans received suspensions, and seven faced criminal charges. The incident adds another layer of complexity to an already heated rivalry, but as the teams prepare for their upcoming matchup, the focus is on football and sportsmanship.

The contest has often had implications beyond mere bragging rights, affecting conference titles, bowl game placements, and even national rankings. The game's centerpiece, the Paul Bunyan Trophy, was introduced in 1953 to symbolize the state's football supremacy. Whether it's in Ann Arbor or East Lansing, when these two teams meet, the stakes are high, the tension is palpable, and the gridiron becomes a battlefield where legends are made, and hearts are broken.

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