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Posted on Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

One writer thinks Michigan's most important game of 2012 is vs. MSU; what say you?

By Nick Baumgardner

The second year of Brady Hoke's Michigan football era opens with a primetime matchup against defending national champion Alabama.

From there, the Wolverines travel to Notre Dame for a night game and will eventually head to Columbus for their first look at Urban Meyer's Ohio State Buckeyes.

But Michigan's most important game in 2012?

Well, according to one writer, that would be vs. Michigan State.

"I know there are going to be a lot of Wolverines fans who disagree with this and insist that the Ohio State game is the most important one on the schedule," ESPN's Brian Bennett writes. "But it's also true that the Maize and Blue haven't won a Big Ten title since 2004, which is an eternity in Ann Arbor.

"Michigan State, the defending division champ, is one of the main obstacles in that path and just so happens to have beaten Michigan in each of the past four years."

Bennett argues that if Michigan drops its fifth straight game against the Spartans, then finding a way to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game would be extremely difficult.

The Wolverines host the Spartans on Oct. 20, and will hope to bring The Paul Bunyan Trophy back to Ann Arbor for the first time since 2007.

"The Wolverines players definitely don't want to hear about a five-game losing streak to their in-state rivals," Bennett wrote. "Which is why, for this year at least, I see the Michigan State game as even more important than The Game."

When he was hired at Michigan in January 2011, Hoke, and his fists, were adamant that the Ohio State game would always be "the most important game on that schedule."

What do you think?

What's the most important game for Michigan in 2012? Ohio State? Michigan State? Alabama? Other?

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan sports for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.



Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 7:14 a.m.

Yep, got to beat MSU at home this year. We finally have the talent on the field to beat them. I think eventually Michigan will start beating MSU like a drum given the infusion of talent coach Hoke is accumulating and his great coaching staff. Just worried if we don't beat them at home they may beat us in 2013 on the road but the tables will definitely turn by 2014 and beyond, then we will go back to the 70s through 90s where they may upset us once every 5 or 6 years at home but most of the time we will beat them handily.


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 5:05 a.m.

What talent is that? Sparty will ROLL...JUST LIKE THE TIDE! Where's the threat?


Sun, Jun 3, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.

I think this is another screwy, ill-conceived sports writer's idea to stir the pot in the off season. The 2012 football season is one of the toughest Michigan has faced in quite a while. As happened in 1997, the whole schedule - because of its difficulties - will play a role in Michigan's national standings and reputation. It may even turn out that the game vs MSU will be a footnote as it was in 1997 - when Charles Woodson stole that show and made MSU irrelevant otherwise. Can Michigan conquer this year's schedule? That's the real question for now and the only change will be if they have a loss, when the question will become: can Michigan go on to hang with the top ten teams?


Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 11:31 p.m.

Keep saying it , OSU is THE GAME, OSU is THE GAME. THE GAME attendance in 1961-80,000, 1963 -36,000, 1965-76,000, 1967-64,000.....Care to guess what the attendance for the MSU games were during those years?


Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 10:22 p.m.

OSU is THE game??? OSU is the real rival?? Attendance says otherwise. The only sell out at the Big House every year through the 50's 60's, into the early 70's was the MSU game. Every MSU at U of M game since MSU joined the B 10 has been a sell out. OSU not so much.....avg attendance for MSU games since 1950, 104,700, OSU 98,000.....


Sun, Jun 3, 2012 : 8 p.m.

Obtuse, OSU is THE GAME but it's too far to drive from Ohio or there are not enough fans in Michigan interested enough to attend the game.... WOW, But it's THE GAME....logic says if it is THE GAME people would actually go to it. Here are a couple of other words for you to go along with obtuse. Subjective and objective. Subjective allows people to say thins like OSU is THE GAME, objective involves facts and things like numbers and stuff.......

Steve McQueen

Sun, Jun 3, 2012 : 7:30 p.m.

wow what logic! could it be more obtuse? as if the fact that you have one game with fans within a 30 mile radius of each other... vs the other game where fans of one school have to travel out of state to get to? yeah thought so. spin again.


Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 7:50 p.m.

Alabama, MSU, OSU? The cliche correct answer is the next game is the most important. Being able to start off with a win against Alabammy could pump a lot of momentum into the rest of the season. Losing though is always a big deal but less so b/c most expect us to lose and there's plenty of games left to recover. Losing to MSU for a 5th straight year w/ division and conference championship implications is bigger. OSU is The Game for a reason. Hmmm... MSU!


Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 3:35 p.m.

Strategically the Michigan State game is the most important as it would be the tie breaker for the division team that goes to the Big Ten Championship. Emotionally it is behind Ohio State, Alabama and Notre Dame.


Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 3:35 p.m.

Every game is important, The Game is the most important, the next game you play is the most important, blah, blah, blah. You are all correct, but I would have to side with those that say the MSU game this year will on my radar every day until sparty rolls into AA and these two teams strap them on. There is bad blood between them and scores to be settled. MSU comes out of here with a win and we will not hear the end of it, and who could blame them? They will have legitimate claim to in-state domination until we can prove otherwise. It will sway recruiting in their favor and Dantonio will have the upper hand in any conversation regarding college football in the state of Michigan. All that being said, I am dismayed by how many are already conceding the game against Bama. They may be the preseason No. 1 and heavily favored against UM, but anything can happen in the first game of the season. New players learn their roles and assignments and adjust to live action against players other than their own teammates and there are always rookie mistakes and a steep learning curve regardless of the quality of the athletes. Appalachian State, anyone?. Being a practical guy, I wouldn't bet on my beloved Wolverines in that game, but I wouldn't bet against 'em either. I could see us finding a way to win that game then dropping 2 out of the next four. It's college football. Anything can and will happen. That's why they play the games.

Michele Dziubinski

Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.

Big 10 schools typically get hammered by teams in the SEC, especially in bowl games. If Michigan can beat Alabama, the preseason #1 team, it will give the Wolverines street cred around the country, not just in the minds of those of us in Ann Arbor. Then, they will have to follow it up with wins over ND, MSU and the hated OSU.


Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 5:05 a.m.

Okay, lets split some hairs here.... The most important game on the schedule? Thats the Bucks. Always has been, always will be. It's THE game. That simple. The most critical game? Yes, this year that would be MSU. Time to end the winning streak and MSU is likely a must win game for UM to get to the championship game. Ironically, of the difficult games on the schedule, this is actually the one I am least worried about. I just dont see MSU. or anyone for that matter, beating UM in Ann Arbor this year. Not going to happen. The biggest impact game? Has to be Alabama. Win that game and you're an instant contender for the national title. The team has confidence and momentum. That will be two nationally ranked teams gong head to head at a neutral site. First game of the season no less. C'mon! Anyone who thinks UM does'nt have a good chance at winning this game does'nt know college football.


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 5:02 a.m.

Michigan couldn't move the ball against Virginia Tech (less than 175 yards of total offense and only 1.6 yards per carry)! Sorry...but the Hokies are Jokies. ROLL TIDE! Whatcha smokin? Where's the threat?


Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 3:08 p.m.

Your hair splitting break down is very good and I really hope you are right about the MSU game...GO BLUE!!!

Steve McQueen

Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 3:10 a.m.

This is not really a very balanced poll... as certainly most of the votes for the MSU game came from Sparty fans themselves. For any real Michigan fan or alum, the most important game of the year is always Ohio.


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 5 a.m.

scUM basketball lost to Ohio. Were lucky enough to split with Ohio. Michigan will have 5 or more losses in 2012. Bama, ND, MSU, Nebraska and Ohio State go into the "L" column. Your team stinks! Where's the threat?


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 10:03 p.m.

The next game is always the most important! So it's got to be Alabama . Not to mention, Michigan will have the whole conference on it's back ! Go Blue!! Bring the B1G back to respectability !


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 9:49 p.m.

The 2012 schedule is a buzz saw from start to finish. Given the huge difference from the 2011 schedule, key games will be the Alabama game, then must handle the dangerous Air Force team. ND will be upset minder but I think the Brian Kelly led squad will lose another close one to the Maize and Blue. Two big reasons why MSU is among the important win list; break the losing treak and beat a team in your own division. It will great to shut up Dantonio with a Meeechigan win. A win will be a big confidence builder to Michigan to continue the gauntlet, with at NE and eventually, at ohio. There is no most important game for me to single out IMHO this year.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 9:48 p.m.

Woody & Bo would probably agree that the most important game is "the next one you play." That would make Alabama preeminent. Bennett's point about MSU is valid concerning Big Ten championship implications. BUT HERE'S THE BOTTOM LINE: OSU/UM transcends college FB and all of sports. The Ohio State game is #1.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 9:19 p.m.

Brady Hoke clarifies this debate:

Drew Montag

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 8:03 p.m.

MSU has the worst winners in all of sports. They are gloating machines. UM cannot lose to them again.

Kevin Shabinski

Mon, Jul 16, 2012 : 3:46 p.m.

Oh, I disagree


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 8:03 p.m.

In years past I would have to say the ohio game ranks as, "The Game" however, since we've lost 4 in a row and we've had to eat crow thanks to Mike Hart and Dantonio I would rank Mich. state game right up there with the ohio game. I think what bothers me the most about the 4 losses is that I always felt like Mich. is not supposed to lose to Mich. state.


Sun, Jun 3, 2012 : 11:45 a.m.

Actually mate, I feel that way about this year and the future.


Sun, Jun 3, 2012 : 11:01 a.m.

You are correct to make your last point in the past tense. Welcome to the 21st century, mate.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 7:56 p.m.

It would be nice to get the MSU monkey off our back but OSU is still the rivalry.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 7:47 p.m.

2011 Capital One Bowl Alabama Crimson Tide 49 Michigan State Spartans 7


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 4:57 a.m.

52-14...5 straight losses to MSU! Where's the threat?

Kevin Shabinski

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 8:03 p.m.

2011 Progressive Gator Bowl Michigan 14 Mississippi State 52 Much better.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 7:34 p.m.

Four letters: tsio Win the Big Ten. Beat tsio. Hail.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 7:30 p.m.

Alabama is a very good team. If Michigan plays mistake free football and with passion, thay can win. That's a tough order for the first game, but it will let us see what we really have. Win or lose, I love that we are playing that game. But I can't wait to go down to that stinky old horseshoe and watch our boys kick the bucks around.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 7:09 p.m.

Of course it is UM's most important game. It is intra-divisional and will be pivotal in deciding who plays in The B1G championship game. If fans don't recognize the importance they are in denial.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 8:19 p.m.

Nebraska is also a pivotal game in deciding the divisional title. Certainly the MSU game is huge, as is Nebraska and every other B10 opponent, but OSU is THE rival.

Terry Star21

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 6:52 p.m.

Every single game Michigan plays in football is the most important, as it has been for 133 years. Michigan football with it's pride and tradition, did not become college football's all-time winningest team by doing otherwise. The msu game, on the Saturday they play, will be the most important game on Michigan's schedule that day. People should give up figuring how the little brother has won four of the last ten games, it's like the eighth wonder of the world - and it's past history, thank God ! MgoBlueForTiM.....every game, Michigan's the Threat !


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 4:55 a.m.

Michigan won 6 straight games vs. MSU when the Spartans had their worst head coaches...EVER! John L Smith and Bobby Williams. How duz it feel, Terry? Where'd you go to school? Where's the threat?


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 6:11 p.m.

Realistically, UofM has little chance of beating Alabama in the first game. I'm not trying to ruffle feathers, but let's be honest, Alabama is gonna roll in that game. After that, I think Sparty is the next best team that Michigan will face all year, so yeah it is a huge game. Not to mention that it is their in-state rival and a game that will count in the Big10 standings. A loss to Alabama would be no surprise, but a fifth straight loss to Sparty would be unthinkable.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 9:01 p.m.

If DRob has learned how to consistently throw accurate passes longer than five yards and Will Campbell is as good on the D-line as he is at denting car hoods, we win. If DRob still can't pass, we lose. 'Bama is going to jam the line, stuff the run, and shut down all those short passes, just like the other good teams we played last year.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 7:55 p.m.

"Little chance". While Michigan must be considered an underdog, they have a respectable chance to win the game. Even so there is never any game that is as important as "The Game". Short term streaks are annoying, and I would like to beat MSU, but given the choice I'll take beating Ohio every time.

Blue Marker

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 7:25 p.m.

I'm not sure about no chance vs. 'Bama. They lost a lot of players. MSU may be the best team after but I think Nebraska will bounce back this season plus the game is in Lincoln. And as a poster before mentioned OSU will be playing their bowl game against us. There is a lot of meat on the bone.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 7:06 p.m.

Sorry to ruffle your feathers Dwayne. I'm just stating the facts. Your comment that MSU is in decline is not a rational statement and has no basis.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 6:36 p.m.

Looks like you are displaying some of that rational (errr..Sparty based) thinking. The question isn't what is the most important game, in the context of MSU, we already know that the Michigan game is the most important game on their schedule.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 6:11 p.m.

I still think OSU is the most important game. The UM game is the Bucks bowl game this year, and they are our chief rival in both recruiting and national stature. As badly as I want to beat MSU, I want to give Urban and the Bucks notice that he's in for a tough ride against Hoke and the Wolverines.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 6:05 p.m.

The biggest game going into this season (and it isn't even close) is Alabama. I don't care how many games in a row MSU has won, that team is declining just as fast as Michigan is rising. And let's not pretend that they are falling from the top of the Big Ten, they have ONE Conference Title in the last 20 years. They have done a very good job of contending (or pretending) to be a contender, but have never gotten over the hump. Meanwhile, after three miserable seasons, Michigan goes 11-2 and is back in the National conversation for the foreseeable future. Alabama, then Ohio, Notre Dame (national night game), might even throw Nebraska's night game in there before MSU. Not to mention, the Spartans could easily be 3-4 coming into that game, which would definitely impact the significance of it.


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 4:51 a.m.

Dum Dum Dwaye! Where's the threat?


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 9:51 p.m.

You think MSU might come into this game 1-4 at home? You're deranged. Then again, you're a U-M fan, so I guess that comes with the territory.

Blue Marker

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 7:17 p.m.

Call me old school but a non-conference game is never your most important game. That dismisses Notre Dame too. Take your pick, either MSU or OSU are the biggest to me.

Terry Star21

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 6:58 p.m.

Dwayne...maybe it is premature right now about msu declining...wait until the end of the season, and you will be spot on. Of course, on second thought - you now will look like a genius at seasons end as you saw it coming. Poor sparty....


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 6:43 p.m.

You are delusional. MSU is declining? That is why they are going to have one of the best defenses in the nation this year. Michigan in the national conversation? Only UM fans think they have a shot at a national title. UM will be lucky to be competing for a B1G title this year much less a national title. UM fans are TOO FUNNY!


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 6:22 p.m.

I'd agree (not just cause I'm an SEC fan). The rhetoric during the BCS era has been the Big 10 can't compete against the SEC (whether you agree or not isn't the point). If you can beat Alabama...shows that Michigan and the Big 10 can play against the best. If you lose though, even if you close out the rest of the year undefeated, I think it'll be hard to garner support (outside of the Big 10) for Michigan to go to the BCS title game.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 6:20 p.m.

Maybe a little premature to say that "that team (MSU) is declining just as faxt as Michigan is rising?" What do you base that on? I think most rational fans would tell that MSU's program has taken huge steps in the right direction.....then again, you don't appear to be rational.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 5:55 p.m.

The most important game on the schedule will be the second game against Air Force. Strange, I know, but here's my reasoning. They will win that game, but it's how they win it that will be interesting to watch. Why? Because they will suffer a tough loss the week before. How they shake off the loss to a powerhouse team and how they handle the media scrutiny that will follow will translate in how they play the following week against Air Force and if they can keep it going against UMass. If they can keep the momentum going against ND and Purdue, then the MSU game will be an important one because it has BIG 10 championship implications and, of course, trying to shake the bad taste of the last four years out of their mouths. If they can beat MSU (I don't think they will, but I'm a Spartan so why would I?) they will have good momentum going into the next 4 games and the Ohio game will hold only minimal importance. But none of this happens if they don't shake off the loss to Alabama and get their minds right in a hurry. This is why I think the game against Air Force is the most important game of the season. Sidenote - Kudos to UofM for scheduling a tough opponent to open the season.


Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 7:55 p.m.

He concedes defeat because he is soft. Conceding defeat is in no way representative of anything related to UofM. Booooo!


Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 3:18 p.m.

Why would you concede defeat to Alabama as though that is a given?


Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 2:48 a.m.

Cute idea, but no way.

Blue Marker

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 7:14 p.m.

Air Force is horrible! And they just lost the best player they had, their starting running back to drug charges. Michigan rolls, book it!


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 5:53 p.m.

it's the most important game, right after the Illinois game. GO BLUE!!

say it plain

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 5:45 p.m.

I realize football exists in a universe aside from the rest of our concerns... *But*, I think this claim from ESPN is true in the universe of college football per se, and the more general one of *Michigan*-state -school vibes. UM has to show some return to its roots, as it were, with an ability to win a big-10 championship again, and it so happens that MSU has been doing pretty well in that department! And though my affiliations are with UM, I'm sorta happy to see MSU lay some claim to superiority in some regard, even if merely in sports lol, given the elitist status of UM these days as the state university with the bigger (biggest?! possibly!) ego about its importance and preeminence in the world...


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 4:50 a.m.

UM is 34-26-2 vs. MSU since 1950! Hardly domination! GET REAL! Where's the threat?


Sun, Jun 3, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.

So tell us please how Michigan is guilty of egoism when MSU comparatively is and always has been well below U of M in academics as well as athletics?? MSU is over 20 games behind in the series, MSU has always "benefitted" from Michigan's temporary down cycles and MSU has ALWAYS been 20 to 70 levels below Michigan in national and world academic polls. But I agree: U of M must reassert it's preeminence over MSU on the football scene and in the Big 10. It's a matter of setting the world right.

Eric Anderson

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 5:41 p.m.

UM-MSU, that's the one game we'll be attending this year.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 8:32 p.m.

I don't know why, but they should ban all the drinking they do down there too. Can't believe the mess after one of those games. Yicks!


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 5:30 p.m.

The Ohio game by far! (This attitude seems to be working in the Spartans favor pretty darn well lately so why not just keep things the way they are. Four more years, four more years!)

Kevin Shabinski

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 7:37 p.m.

How, exactly, is it over? Or are you just talking about being relieved that the most recent curb stomping is over?

Terry Star21

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 6:44 p.m.

It's true, how the sparties managed to win four of the last ten games against Michigan could be the eighth wonder of the word - thank God that's over !


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 5:49 p.m.

The Ohio game? I didn't know that Ohio University was on UM's football schedule. Wow! You would think after the beating Ohio U. gave Michigan in the tournament, that Michigan would not want to play them in football.........LOL!

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 5:13 p.m.

The most important game on the schedule to this old fart...clich and all is the next one until we lose a couple then you can look ahead. If we have 2-3 losses going in to MSU then ya that game gets really important. Stop the losing streak, grab some sort of dignity back...blah...blah...blah. But for me right now the most important game is the next one. And if we are 9-0 going in to Northwestern that game will be more important than either MSU was or Alabama was.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 6:16 p.m.

I'd think it'd be the last one (including bowls)...

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 5:22 p.m.

to add to my thought...I don't think Michigan will go 12-0 but there isn't any game I would concede as a sure lose right now. Even Alabama..... if we won, it wouldn't be the biggest upset in college football history by any means. So until they lose a couple nothing is bigger than the next game.

Honest Abe

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 5:11 p.m.

"What say you?" - Nice editing.

Steve McQueen

Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 3:11 a.m.

Hit the Road Jack... Dont ya come back no more no more no more no more Hit the Road Jack Dont ya come back no more... What Say You?? eh doesnt work.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 9:40 p.m.

Honest's pithy style writing, relax, give 'em a break.

Rich Rezler

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 5:21 p.m.

An idiom, but correct. And it rhymes.