Michigan State has developed brief “rivalries” with Big Ten opponents over the years.
Most recently was with Wisconsin, a series that reached it’s peak in 2011 when the teams faced off in two classic matchups. The Spartans took the first game after Keith Nichol caught a hail mary from Kirk Cousins as time expired. The two teams faced off again in the inaugural Big Ten Championship, with Wisconsin barely edging the Spartans.
But currently, the Spartans have opened a new mini-rivalry with Ohio State.
The Spartans most notably beat the Buckeyes in last year’s Big Ten Championship game, ending their undefeated season and national title hopes.
Both quarterbacks in Saturday’s game didn’t shy away from discussing the importance of this heavyweight matchup.
“This is why you come to Ohio State, to play Michigan State at Michigan State. This is what it is. It’s bit-time,” Ohio State freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett said after last week’s victory over Illinois.
On the opposite side of the field, Michigan State’s Connor Cook said almost exact same thing Tuesday, saying, “This is why we come to Michigan State, to play in a game like this.”
Media members have been referring to this series as a rivalry the last couple of weeks, but the head coaches do not agree.
Urban Meyer said Ohio State’s only rival is still Michigan, and much like with the quarterbacks, Mark Dantonio mirrored that response on Tuesday.
One of the main storylines in this game is how well Barrett will play in his toughest challenge since taking over for the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Braxton Miller, who was forced to miss the entire season with a shoulder injury.
He has impressed the Spartans so far this season after quickly settling into the starting role.
Spartans middle linebacker Taiwan Jones also added that Barrett is a “way better quarterback” than Miller, saying that he is a superior passer and fits better in Ohio State’s offense.
The Spartans will take on the No. 16 Buckeyes this Saturday at 8 p.m. ESPN’s College Gameday will be in town for the matchup.
Dan Tyler is the host of Spartan Red Zone for Impact Sports.
Photo: Bradley Allen/Impact Sports