With In-State Rivalry Week 2019 winding down, both parts of the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry are apparently wanting its fans to act as cordial (this year, at least) as the two head coaches who will be roaming opposing sidelines Saturday afternoon.
“I think they are doing a great job defensively, offensively, and he’s a good football coach,” MSU head coach Mark Dantonio said earlier this week. “The guy’s a Hall of Fame football coach, whether it’s the NFL or whether it’s in college, so you can expect them to play well.”
“On high alert for everything,” Dantonio’s U-M counterpart, Jim Harbaugh, said a day earlier. “Specifically, we understand that coach Dantonio is a master motivator.”
In a similar kumbaya vein, a statement was released Thursday, attributed to both athletic directors, in which the schools implored the fan bases on each side to, essentially, play nice with each other.
The tenor surrounding this year’s game is quite different than in 2018, when Harbaugh called MSU’s pregame actions “bush league” while Dantonio pushed back against those “BS” accusations, with both head coaches receiving public reprimands from the Big Ten.
The Spartans, incidentally, have gotten the better of the rivalry of late as they’ve won eight of the last 11 meetings, including two of four since Harbaugh took over. The Wolverines haven’t beaten Sparty in Ann Arbor, the site of today’s game, since 2012.
As of this posting, U-M is a 13.5-point favorite.