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Column: Playing Rutgers for rivalry week sucks

November 21, 2017

Thanksgiving weekend holds a special place in my heart. It's not because I get to skip class and consume thousands of calories completely disregarding my club sports team.

No, it's Rivalry Week around college football — and is it going to be glorious.

Around the Big Ten, the marquee matchup is obviously Ohio State vs. Michigan. "The Game," they call it. Buckeye students jumped into a lake in previous years in the wake of winter.

That's absolutely stupid and insane. And awesome. College kids do idiotic things, you can throw me into that group. College football only expands that. If that isn't beautiful, I don't know what is.

Even around the conference, Wisconsin vs. Minnesota have regional stakes, much like Iowa vs. Nebraska. There's no love lost between Indiana and Purdue in the basketball-crazed state, even if the game is played on the gridiron.

The sheer hatred between fanbases this weekend is going to take center stage. The drama surrounding the College Football Playoff lingers in the air, subconsciously reminding fans what's at stake.

And then there's MSU. Playing Rutgers, a relatively new conference foe that joined the Big Ten in 2014. Tremendous.

No disrespect to Rutgers, I almost went there since I was born in New Jersey, but this isn't really about the Scarlet Knights. It's about the Spartans playing a random East coast school they have very little history with. The two schools have faced each other a whopping eight times.

And wow, does that suck. There's no connection between the two schools, much less a history. The hundreds of miles between the two fanbases doesn't help that either.

U-M and MSU fans hate each other because they're each other's neighbors. In this state, there's really no ignoring each other. That doesn't even go into the long history of the pair.

All the problems with facing Rutgers doesn't include the recent on-field product. I will credit the Scarlet Knights, they were much better than anyone really expected them to be this year, much like the Spartans have been.

But while 2015's game was a nail-biter that hilariously ended on a spiked ball on fourth down, 2016 was a mess. Even the 3-9 edition of the Spartans, one of the worst in decades, soundly destroyed Rutgers 49-0.

Really, MSU's situation is a bit disheartening, to say the least. Like it or not, in all of its rivalries, it's mostly second fiddle and that's magnified during this sacred, crazy week.

Everyone hates Notre Dame, and in similar terms, Michigan. Ohio State and Michigan do their own thing while Sparty has traditionally played Penn State at the end of the season recently. Even Indiana, the battle for the Old Brass Spittoon, has the Boilermakers to hate.

Critics and pundits can make fun of the incredibly beautiful — seriously, can't stress this enough — Land-Grant Trophy, but even playing Penn State is better than Rutgers. There's some history there, though it feels manufactured because of a dingy trophy.

Of course, there are outside factors to this decision. Arguably, Penn State might have a better time playing Maryland and Rutgers compared to MSU, mostly because of geographic reasons.

It's not necessarily anyone's fault MSU has to play Rutgers, though faulting Big Ten schedule-makers is one route. Doesn't mean it doesn't suck.

So MSU fans, I won't blame you if you fall asleep watching a game set for kickoff at 4 p.m., especially after that Thanksgiving feast.

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