There is nothing like the intensity that comes along with being a part of the MSU/U of M rivalry. Regardless of each team’s record, you know that you are in for an all out battle when you walk on the court/field. This game means so much more than just another win in your win column… it signifies who is the dominant team in the State and who is the “big brother” so to speak. Each game is a part of sports history and will be talked about by fans for years to come. I still have the memory of Mark Montgomery getting in a fight with Juwan Howard, Scott Skiles calling Antoine Joubeat “fat boy” as he continually torched the Wolverines and Mateen Cleaves dropping 20 assists against them before he bent over and kissed the “S” for the last time at the Breslin Center.
The MSU basketball program is always intense. Any observer who has watched a practice has witnessed the extreme focus and attention to detail at all times. However, nothing can compare to what it feels like to walk on the practice court leading up to the Michigan game. Coach Izzo remembers ever disrespectful act that any U of M player has ever done with regards to his program. He remembers the Fab Five rubbing their butts on the block S and laughing as they won a game. He recalls the years when he had to fight, scratch and claw his way to a top notch program, and it is all released emotionally during the days leading up to this particular game.
To me, there is nothing better than going in to an opponent’s home and taking a game from them. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed beating up on the Wolverines anytime/anywhere, but when you can walk on to their turf, quiet the couple thousand fans they normally have at the games and dominate a game, it’s AWESOME. When all you have are your teammates standing next to you and you can watch the energy and drive of an entire arena drain, you grow as a team. For our football team, this weekend is the first real road test for our Spartans. They have their Field General back to lead them into battle and it’s time for the talk to stop.
I wish I could be on that field when the Spartans come out of that tunnel and the “us against the world” feeling sets in. It reminds me of the 300 Spartans who stood their ground at the gates of hell and took on all comers. These modern day Spartans will be walking into the gates of hell on Saturday. The only difference is they won’t be alone. They will have the full strength of the Spartan nation going into battle with them.