This weekend the Michigan Wolverines and the Michigan State Spartans will square off in one of college football’s most heated rivalries, and this year the game could be especially significant. The Spartans came into the season as a contender for this year’s College Football Playoff, and they’re still holding on to that hope, while Michigan is riding high after several disappointing seasons thanks to the fire brought to the program by new head coach Jim Harbaugh. The Spartans are undefeated, while the Wolverines have won five in a row, including three consecutive shut-outs. It’s a big game, to put it mildly.
Because it’s a rivalry game, the match-up is often prefaced by a few friendly and not-so-friendly pranks between students. Last year, Michigan students sprayed maize and blue paint (the school’s colors, for those of you who don’t follow such things) on the iconic “Sparty” statue on MSU’s campus, while MSU students painted the brass M in the center of Michigan’s famous campus “Diag” with its own colors of green and white. Because Michigan managed to paint Sparty maize and blue again just last month, MSU students have been standing guard to make sure it didn’t happen again this week. The guard duty seems to be working, but Michigan students weren’t deterred. They just went for another statue on campus: That of former MSU basketball great and NBA legend Magic Johnson.
The face of the Johnson statue was painted maize, while the chest was emblazoned with an M and the words “Beat State” were scrawled on the base. Workers are already cleaning the statue, and though it’ll probably be fine by Saturday’s game, MSU head basketball coach Tom Izzo considered this particular rivalry prank a bit more heinous than others.
“First, I’ve gotta say, that this is rivalry week and you’re not supposed to like your opponent. There’s a lot of great Michigan kids, but there’s some idiots,” Izzo said. “There’s some idiots on our side, too, that do crazy things. Messing with Sparty is a bad thing, like messing with their ’M’ is a bad thing. But messing with Magic, that’s the worst thing. I’ll make sure from now on that maybe the basketball team will sleep [out there].”
And so, the rivalry week wars continue apace.