Feb 2, 2012

Super Bowl Sunday promises to be memorable day in sports for Michigan State and Michigan fans

By Adam Biggers

So, how about that Michigan State-Michigan rivalry these days? You know, the one that has seemingly reached its pinnacle, or, at the very least, the highest level in years (that I can remember, anyhow).

Both basketball programs are ranked and play Sunday in East Lansing, both football teams capped their seasons off with big bowl wins and both hockey teams are doing well, too. It's a good time to be a supporter of either school, as both landed sturdy recruiting classes Wednesday which promise to make football all the more interesting in years to come.

And if you thought the football rivalry would be limited to off-season talk of which school had the better recruiting class, lured in the best under-the-radar prep star -- or whatever else people like to argue about these days -- you're wrong. Because Sunday, yes, Super Bowl Sunday, will be yet another day Wolverines and Spartans can trade gridiron smack talk.

Why is that?

Well, there is this Tom Brady fella who quarterbacks the New England Patriots, the team that faces the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis. And yeah, that Brady guy, who was the 199th pick of the 2000 NFL Draft, had a spectacular career at Michigan -- and a pretty decent career as a professional, too.

The Patriots have former Michigan State standout quarterback Brian Hoyer backing up Brady, who is arguably one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. There is also Ryan Mallet, an ex-Michigan quarterback turned Arkansas Razorback who adds to the Wolverines-Spartans Super Bowl storyline.

While the Giants are led by quarterback Eli Manning, who won his first Super Bowl four years ago against the Patriots, they have a couple former Spartans who have contributed to the team's success: Special teamers Devin Thomas, who was a star wide receiver during his days in East Lansing, and Greg Jones, who was an All-American linebacker at Michigan State, prior to this, his rookie season with the Giants.

Oh, and don't forget Giants wideout Mario Manningham, who Spartans fans probably think about to this day -- that whole touchdown catch in 2007 which gave the Wolverines their most recent win over Sparty still burns many Michigan State supporters. 

I'm partial to the Giants, myself. Although three-point underdogs, I think the Giants have the means necessary to win Sunday, giving Peyton Manning's little brother a second championship ring... one more than big brother. Part of me wants to see Eli taste victory. Besides, Brady has won just about everything else there is to win, so why not let Eli have a little fun?

Sunday's Big Ten basketball grudge match should tell us a little more about which team -- Michigan State or Michigan -- has enough gas in the tank to chase Ohio State in the conference title race. While there are a couple other teams capable of winning the Big Ten, Michigan and Michigan State are two that have shown me a little more than say, Indiana or Wisconsin. Don't count out Illinois, either.

If you're a Michigan State fan or a supporter of the Wolverines, pay close attention Sunday. It will end up as a great day; one full of bragging rights for both schools, depending on the outcomes. 

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