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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Last year for Michigan football, it was a house of horrors playing against Michigan State. The only thing was, it was in The Big House. In the Jim Harbaugh era, the Wolverines have yet to lose at Spartan Stadium, where the maize and blue will have a crack at redemption, this time against a top 10, undefeated MSU team.
The first step for this Michigan team will be to contain the Michigan State offense, led by running back Kenneth Walker, who leads the country in yards per game. According to edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson, there’s a special emphasis placed on slowing Walker as the game approaches.
“He’s a good back, real good back,” Hutchinson said. “He’s super talented. If we just execute, if we do what we have to do, we should be successful on Saturday. But he’s a real big threat and we’re really highlighting him this week. If we execute, do our thing, we should be good.”
Of course, the redemption angle particularly has this Michigan defense fired up.
The Wolverines lost the game primarily because the defense couldn’t contain the MSU offense, with the edge rushers unable to get to the quarterback as he threw several 50-50 balls that ended up being complete downfield. For Hutchinson, while there’s the nagging reminder of what happened a year ago, almost to the day, he says that this team will be much more prepared to take on the Spartans this time around.
“Last year definitely left a bad taste in your mouth, especially with them,” Hutchinson said. “The game that I really thought we should have won, but we couldn’t close it out. This year, we closed the book on last year and we’re ready to take them on this year. We’re a whole new team, a whole new culture. We’re just ready to go.”
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Ultimately, Hutchinson is glad that MSU ended up surviving at Indiana two weeks ago. On a bye week, he was able to watch the game, and considering that the Spartans are rivals, he wanted them to go down in Bloomington. But, since they did get the win, he’s glad that it will be a battle against another undefeated team.
“Most definitely. It makes the game more important, makes the game more prime time,” Hutchinson said. “Yeah, I saw them beat Indiana. Obviously, I was a little bit pissed, but I was like, ‘Hey! Now our game will be the battle of the undefeateds!’ It’s gonna be a fun one, prime time — I’m fired up, ready to go.”
There’s one more added caveat to this matchup in that former Michigan linebacker Ben VanSumeren will be on the field wearing green and white instead of maize and blue.
When VanSumeren made the decision to transfer to rival MSU, it was particularly awkward for Hutchinson — adding fuel to an already raging inferno.
“Yeah, we were living together at that point, too,” “So it was a little weird. Yeah, I don’t talk to him a whole lot anymore. I hope he’s doing well. Hopefully on Saturday, I’ll — I don’t want to say anything — hopefully on Saturday, we will get the win so he can feel badly transferring.”
Michigan and MSU will kick off at noon EDT in East Lansing, with the game nationally televised on Fox.