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ESPN's Pat Forde Begins The Michigan-Michigan State Hype

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Michigan and Michigan State don't play each other for another week. And the Wolverines and Spartans both have their Big Ten openers to get through this Saturday. But if Michigan beats Indiana and MSU defeats Wisconsin, the in-state rivals will each be 5-0 when they face off on October 9 in Ann Arbor. 

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Those stakes were enough for ESPN.com's Pat Forde to list the Michigan-Michigan State match-up as one of his 10 games in October that will shape the national championship race.

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Why it's big: One or both could still be undefeated, and rather unexpectedly so given preseason expectations. If that team is the Spartans, their Big Ten title aspirations rise with a victory over Michigan, since there is no Ohio State on the schedule. If that team is the Wolverines, Rich Rodriguez's job security rises with a victory over the in-state rivals, since he's 0-2 against Sparty while at Michigan.

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Why it's interesting: The Dash wants to see Michigan State middle linebacker and playmaker Greg Jones against the skittering feet of Denard Robinson. The 235-pound Jones can put a hurt on the 190-pound Robinson -- if he can catch him.

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Who will win: Michigan, 30-24.

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The other Big Ten game on Forde's list is Ohio State-Wisconsin the following week, on October 16. 

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Forde also has some thoughts on Michigan's Denard Robinson and MSU coach Mark Dantonio in this week's column. Click over and give it a read.