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Gameday in the Great Lakes state can oftentimes take a contested tone whenever two of its biggest schools face off in a rivalry that stretches back to the 19th century. Caught in the middle of this historic competition are fans, families, and friends who hold diehard convictions for their preferred school.

So win or lose, how do you survive as a Michigan Wolverine or Michigan State Spartan fan after a loss to the opposing team?

History of MSU vs Michigan Rivalry

The University of Michigan first faced Michigan State University on the football field in 1898, when MSU was still known as the Michigan Agricultural College. UofM shutout MSU in its inaugural game 39-0. In fact, it would take another 15 years before MSU claimed its first victory. Unbeknownst to its pre-World War I student-athletes, a rivalry was born.

It wasn’t until Michigan State entered the Big Ten conference in 1949 that the true nature of this in-state rivalry would reveal itself. The Spartans won their first conference game against the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, 14-7.

MSU vs Michigan
Already by 1953, the rivalry was lively enough to merit its own trophy. In 1953, the Paul Bunyan trophy was presented to that year’s winner, MSU. In total, the teams have faced each other over 100 times on the gridiron, and with each successive year of competition, friends and families throughout the state of Michigan are torn apart by school allegiance.

Understand That It’s Just A Game

Whether or not friends and family hold the same devotion, game day can be nerve-racking. Bragging rights are on the line every time an MSU vs Michigan game takes place, be it on the football field, the basketball court, or in any other organized competition.

One thing to keep in mind is that age-old saying, “It’s just a game.” After all, what real impact do these games have on an individuals’ life? Being a sports fan is one thing, but holding a personal grudge against someone for rooting for a different team is an entirely different issue.

Before game day, it’s important to remember that, win or lose, a school’s reputation as an educational institute is most important, and that those who root for the opposing team are no better or worse as people. As is often said of good sportsmanship, “Keep it on the field.”

Look At The Numbers

In a rivalry like the one between Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, there are enough stats to go around that allows both sides to pat themselves on the back.

Looking for the all-time ratio of wins and losses? Michigan fans can celebrate knowing they have won 70 of the total 111 meetings between the two football teams.

What about the last 10 years? Since 2008, Michigan State has won 8 out of 11 football games. MSU fans tend to start the modern era of the rivalry as the year head coach Mark Dantonio started the job, 2007, and that statistic allows State fans to celebrate their recent victories in the rivalry.

University of Michigan fans are now following suit by beginning their modern era as the year head coach Jim Harbaugh began his head coaching career at Michigan in 2015. Using this method would put their win/loss ratio even at 2-2.

Humble In Victory And Defeat

One of the best ways to survive a loss from a favored team, whether fans identify as Spartans or Wolverines, is to be humble in both victory and defeat. Players, coaches, and commentators have taken the rivalry to heated levels in year’s past, and that shows no sign of stopping, but fans have complete control over how they respond to the game.

Instead of sending that snarky text or social media post when the “right” team wins, consider the lasting impact those words will have the next time they are handed a loss. The politics of sports rivalries often outweighs the level of competition itself, and spinning nothing into something is often the job of columnists and devoted personalities.

Always consider the source when reading an infuriating article before adding fuel to the fire with negativity.

If Michigan Wins As An MSU Fan?

If U-M takes the win on game day, MSU fans may consider avoiding the usual East Lansing bars and house party spots, as the destruction of property is a popular activity following a loss (or a big win for that matter). This is one of those practical, actual survival tips.

MSU versus Michigan

Again, MSU fans can look beyond football to celebrate other achievements. Michigan State has a 93-81 win ratio over the University of Michigan in basketball, for example.

Lastly, remember that Michigan has a history of bragging after victories, which often lights a fire under the coaches and players at MSU for the next matchup. In 2007, U-M football player Mike Hart infamously referred to State as “little brother” which infuriated MSU head coach Mike Dantonio. Dantonio responded by saying, “It’s not over. I’m going to be a head coach here a long time. It’s just started.”

MSU fans will recall that Michigan State went on to win seven of the next eight games against Michigan after the “little brother” comment.

What If MSU Wins As A Michigan Fan?

If Michigan State is the victor after a rivalry game, Michigan fans can survive knowing their academic and athletic superiority is will remain largely intact.

In athletics, Michigan teams regularly take top 25 spots nationally and are often in contention for top 10 spots and post-season competition.

In academics, the University of Michigan is considered the top school in the state and is unofficially referred to as a “public ivy league” instruction, referring to its top-tier educational status.

How To Survive A Loss

Remember the history of the rivalry between Michigan State and the University of Michigan and the minimal impact that a single win or loss could have on that legacy. Win or lose, both institutions have proven that on any given year, on any given night, one team’s fans may be trying to figure out how to survive a loss suffered at the hands of their opponent.