Michigan vs Michigan State Football — Looking Back – 2006

Looking Back is a Special Feature by Jeff Cummins Highlighting Key Rivalry Games

The third installment of this year’s series looking back at the football rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State takes us to 2006. The previous year had been a disappointment for the Wolverines, and some changes were made. Ron English was introduced as the new defensive coordinator, and he promptly had the Wolverines’ defensive players running sprints on the golf course just south of Michigan Stadium. Another difference was the fact that running back Mike Hart was finally healthy.

But the biggest difference might have been Michigan’s hunger. After two relatively lackluster seasons, the Wolverines were hearing it, from fans, alumni,and the national media. That hunger was on display throughout 2006, as the Wolverines seemed to give just that extra little bit of effort on almost every play, giving Michigan supporters the results they crave.

That fierce determination was evident early against Michigan State, as the Wolverines marched downfield with attitude. Hart shoved would-be tacklers out of his way and quarterback Chad Henne found receivers with ease, connecting with Adrian Arrington and Mario Manningham for a pair of first-half touchdowns that led Michigan to a 17-0 halftime lead. That dominance continued in the second half as the Wolverines roared to a 31-7 lead, effectively ending the game before the start of the fourth quarter.

One thing the 2006 game illustrated is a trait that seems unique to this rivalry. The team that plays old school, fundamentally sound, basic, hard-hitting football usually comes out on top. Spread offenses, whether coached by John L. Williams or Rich Rodriguez, seldom work in this rivalry. More often than not, the team that runs the ball, particularly using some derivative of the pro-set or I-formation offense, usually wins the game.

The victory kept Michigan on the road to a classic, season-ending showdown in Columbus, but that’s a story for another day.

Thanks to youtube poster WolverineHistorian and ESPN for the attached highlight video. As always, we own nothing, and this video and blog post are provided strictly for the enjoyment of our readers.

About Jeff Cummins

Jeff Cummins has written about football since 1998, including nine years with The Record of Hackensack, N.J. He frequently contributes feature stories to Touchdown Illustrated, an insert in the national college football game program, published by University Sports Publications, and he has also written the official pregame stories for the game programs of the Rose Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Gator Bowl, and the BCS National Championship game. He has written the preview story for the official program for the NHL Winter Classic at MIchigan Stadium, and numerous college basketball feature stories for College Hoops Illustrated, another game program insert published by University Sports Publications. In addition, he has written stories about theater, music, physical therapy, and newsletter marketing. He’s an avid Michigan football fan and long-time New York Jets season ticket holder, and he can be reached at jeffcummins@optonline.net.