This is the article I was most looking forward to writing in this 2023 outlook/hype series. This is the game we are all circling on our calendars. Game #7 this year is the game against our in-state rivals, the skunkbears. In most years, it would be very easy to get y’all amped for this; I’d just embed the Dantonio “It’s never over” video. That gets me going every time.
But this year’s game against um comes with some very special circumstances. I am sure many of you have seen the Mike Valenti Show where he talked about this. I want to go on record as saying I am not endorsing or hoping for what he predicted. But I 100% agree with his prediction.
If you do not know what I am talking about or did not see the video, here is what you need to know. This year’s game is a night game at Spartan Stadium, the first time a night game has been played in this series in East Lansing. On top of that, this is the first game in the series after last year’s tunnel incident. Yes, MSU players were in the wrong for their actions that day. No, they were not the only guilty parties. But the big thing that will have implications this year is the fact that staff in the um athletic department, their coach included, were calling for charges to be filed against the MSU players involved, and then the county prosecutor - an um graduate himself - went ahead and did charge these young men. Whether discussed publicly or not, this could not have sat well with people on the Green side of the rivalry.
Oh, and also, there is going to be beer sold during the game.
Back to Valenti’s prediction, or warning really, I do agree that this really is not the circumstances where an um faithful should go get a ticket to this game. It just feels ripe for an incident or two in or around the stadium between a pair of fan bases that already have animosity towards one another.
But I am not here to talk about a donnybrook breaking out. Let me focus on the game. MSU is coming into this game 6-0. This is a rivalry game, however, so that can go right out the window. Here’s what’s going to happen. Coach Tucker is going to sit his team down on the Tuesday prior to the game (or whatever day of the week they begin preparing for the next opponent) and he is going to remind them that they are going to play the team coached by a guy who wanted some of their teammates thrown in jail. He is going to remind them that Mr. Khakis attempted to permanently stain the lives of MSU players involved in the incident. And then he is going to remind them that this is the Woodshed. And no one, and I mean no one, comes into the Woodshed after doing what they tried to pull and pushes us around (yes, I just paraphrased the locker room speech from the film Rudy).
So what am I predicting for this game? Just short of the ten-year anniversary, we are going to see a whooping similar to the one the Spartans bestowed upon um in 2013. This is going to be another one of those games where one team clearly wants this more than the other. The MSU defensive line is going to absolutely smother um’s preseason all-American running back. The linebackers, featuring Windmon and Haladay, are going to take up residence in um quarterback McCarthy’s facemask. And that is going to contribute to our secondary’s success that day as they will shut down any receiving threats.
And when we have the ball, we will enjoy watching an offense taking the next step in their development as our offensive line will move the trenches forward all game long and multiple skill position players will have career days.
And when the clock runs out, Coach Tucker will jog to midfield in a sea of reporters and police officers to shake the hand of um’s coach and exchange a few words. I’m sure he will never reveal what he says to his fallen opponent, but I am hoping it is something along the lines of “That’s for my players whose lives you tried to f^¢& with. Now get the hell out of my house.”
8 days until the season starts! And 58 days until we take back Paul Bunyan!