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Spartan Football Playback: Michigan State vs. Michigan (2008)

The Spartans’ dominance against the Wolverines in 2008 set the tone in the rivalry for the next decade-plus.

Michigan State v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Opponent: Michigan Wolverines

Date: Oct. 25, 2008

Location: Michigan Stadium (Ann Arbor, Michigan)

Final Score: 35-21, Michigan State

All-time Matchup Record: Michigan leads, 71-38-5

This year’s battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy now turns into a much more interesting affair thanks to a momentous victory for Michigan State against Wisconsin in Week Seven.

Both Michigan and Michigan State started the season with high expectations, but have gone off on different trajectories. The Wolverines (7-0, 4-0 in Big Ten play) have ripped through the early part of the 2022 season and still have their eyes set on back-to-back College Football Playoff appearances. MSU (3-4, 1-3), on the other hand, is still looking to find an identity.

Mel Tucker became the first Michigan State head coach to win his first two games against Michigan, but will face undoubtedly his toughest test yet on Saturday. His first victory in Ann Arbor (and first win overall) in 2020 was in an empty Michigan Stadium with plenty of unorthodox variables — still a great win by an underdog team against an archrival. Of course in 2021, Michigan State had a generational talent at running back in Kenneth Walker III to lead the Spartans to victory.

This year, each team is coming off of a bye week and will be well-rested and ready for another battle under the lights. Michigan State has won 10 of the last 14 meetings in this rivalry and a victory in Ann Arbor in 2022 would surely propel the Spartans back in to bowl contention, something that seemed somewhat out of reach a few weeks ago.

This week’s playback will take us back to 2008, a year after Wolverine running back Mike Hart spoke a few silly words that changed the landscape of the rivalry and lit a flame for MSU’s reign over the state for the next decade-plus.

2008 Game Recap

The echoes of “Little Sister” chants would swirl throughout Michigan Stadium in 2008, but this time from fans wearing Green and White. The Spartans had finally taken down their in-state foe following six grueling years of losing and did it in dominant fashion.

Mark Dantonio’s response to Mike Hart’s “Little Brother” comments will live on forever in Spartan lore, as the ultimate form of speaking into existence. This year also marked the much anticipated beginning to the Rich Rodriguez era at Michigan — one that would quickly turn forgettable for the Wolverines.

Prior to the game, Michigan State had not knocked off the Wolverines since 2001, and was winless at the “Big House” since 1990.

The Spartans out-gained Michigan in total yardage by a tally of 473-252, their highest total in a win at Michigan Stadium in a half-century, and MSU’s most lopsided victory in the rivalry since 1967.

Michigan State running back Javon Ringer ran for for a staggering 194 yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries. Quarterback Brian Hoyer was 17-of-29 on his passing attempts, throwing for 282 yards and a season-high three scores through the air. Meanwhile, wide receiver Blair White scored on a 61-yard reception to start the scoring and finished with four catches for 143 yards.

Michigan State would hold onto Paul Bunyan for the next four years and slowly position itself into college football’s elite over the next decade, while the Wolverines went down a different path.