Last year in Ann Arbor, undefeated Michigan took on undefeated Michigan State in the biggest game this rivalry had seen in some time. The Spartans rolled over Michigan with a 34-17 win and went on to win a share of the Big Ten title. The Wolverines, on the other hand, started their slide in the Big Ten for the second year in a row after a loss to MSU and went on to finish 7-6. Rich Rodriguez was fired following the season, and he left Michigan with a 0-3 record against the Spartans.
This year in East Lansing, the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry will feature a game that seems to be even more important than last year. The Wolverines enter the game 6-0, and Brady Hoke is looking to win his debut in this rivalry as a head coach. The Spartans are 4-1, and after having a week off, they are ready to go for their fourth consecutive win in this rivalry.
With the way the Big Ten is shaping up, this game could very well be the difference in the race for the Legends Division title. Northwestern, Iowa and Minnesota are winless in the conference, and Nebraska is 1-1. The only Legends teams without a conference loss are Michigan and Michigan State.
Obviously, one of these teams will lose on Saturday. The winner and team that remains undefeated in the conference will have a big edge on the rest of the division. The loser will still be in the race, but considering the larger implications of what happens in the very first matchup in this rivalry between Mark Dantonio and Hoke, neither team wants to be in that position.