COMMENTARY| The Michigan State Spartans have held an unquestioned advantage the past four years over their in-state rivals, the Michigan Wolverines.
With their fourth consecutive victory in 2011, the Spartans matched their longest streak in the Paul Bunyan Trophy series over Michigan, which was previously set at four straight from 1959-62. This season, though, with momentum seemingly in their favor, the Spartans could extend Michigan's in-state losing ways to five five years in a row.
It would be historic, great for the program and even better for Michigan State fans, says former Spartans wide receiver Keith Nichol.
"You're talking about even the redshirt class winning every single game against Michigan," Nichol said. "I don't know if that's been done. The biggest thing would be continuing Michigan State's trend against Michigan. Five in a row is pretty significant -- you're talking about half a decade. It helps with recruiting, helps the fans…
"It's really hard to put into words how that important that (would be if MSU won). With that kind of winning you're defining history. As a guy who (was part of winning) four in a row, it would be great to see MSU continue its domination over Michigan."
From 1958-63, Michigan State never lost to the Wolverines. However, there were two ties ('58, '63) that were book ends to the four straight triumphs.
The Spartans have the talent at their disposal to down Michigan yet again. Running back Le'Veon Bell is among the Big Ten's top NFL prospects and one of the elite ball carriers in the Big Ten, possibly the country. Although he rushed for just 20 yards in the Spartans' 28-14 win in 2011, he'll most certainly be an X-factor come fall.
With transfer receiver DeAnthony Arnett in the fold, the Spartans will benefit from his speed after the catch, and possibly on kickoff returns, too. For Michigan State, losing talent from 2011 doesn't seem to be quite the looming issue as it's been in previous seasons. Michigan State is locked and loaded for another Big Ten championship run.
And the focus shouldn't be solely on the offense -- the Spartans defense is regarded as one of the best in the country, perhaps leading the way in the Big Ten.
However, a loss to Michigan this season wouldn't negate the success Michigan State has had under coach Mark Dantonio, who has been outspoken regarding the Wolverines over the years. A victory would only strengthen Michigan State in forging onward, but a setback wouldn't throw the Spartans off the tracks.
A fifth consecutive win is possible. Making history and shattering preconceived notions about the program has been part of the many goals Dantonio has set out to accomplish. History is within Dantonio's grasp.
Adam Biggers has followed NCAA football for over 20 years, specifically the Michigan State Spartans and Big Ten Conference. He can be found on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.