The Michigan Wolverines found themselves at #4 in the Associated Press rankings this weekend after a colossal 41-17 second half dismantling of the previously #10-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions, and now the team’s focus has turned to winning back the Paul Bunyan trophy.
The trophy, given to the winner of the Michigan vs. Michigan State game each year, currently resides in East Lansing, but McCarthy isn’t shying away from the rivalry one bit heading into the October 29 showdown.
The Wolverines and Spartans both have a bye week prior to the game, which should only add to the trash talk as both teams prepare for their clash at the Big House in Ann Arbor.
Following Michigan’s win Saturday, McCarthy had the following to say about MSU and the trophy that was made in the likeness of one of the North’s most fabled mythological characters.
“All I’ve got to say is it’s going to be pretty quick because we want (the) Paul (Bunyan Trophy) back,” McCarthy said postgame about the turnaround toward preparing for the MSU game according to The Michigan Insider.
“We want him back. And they’re coming to our house. I don’t know if it’s going to be under the lights, but it might be, and yeah, we’re ready for that one. We’re going to be turning the page really quick.”
The Spartans won 37-33 last year in East Lansing as current Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker ran 23 times for 197 yards and five touchdowns, completing an epic comeback.
Michigan On a Seven-Game Winning Streak Heading Into Rivalry Game vs. MSU
The Wolverines will be riding a seven-game winning streak heading into the October 29 matchup. They were the first team to become bowl eligible this season, and are currently 4-0 in the Big Ten, a half-game ahead of the 6-0 Ohio State Buckeyes.
Meanwhile, Michigan State is 3-4 overall, 1-3 in the Big Ten after Saturday’s overtime home win over Wisconsin.
MSU is ranked 103rd in the nation in total defense, giving up 422.3 yards per game.
But looks can be deceiving — the #3 ranked Tennessee Volunteers are one place behind the Spartans in the total defense rankings, and MSU’s passing game tandem of Payton Thorne and Jayden Reed can score against anyone.
Offense-wise, Michigan is ranked #22 in the nation, racking up 473.6 yards per contest, while MSU is also ranked 103rd with 349 yards per game.
Michigan’s secondary could be the difference in this game, led by veterans R.J. Moten, D.J. Turner, Gemon Green, and Mike Sainristil (who switched over from offense this season) along with five-star freshman Will Johnson, who has reminded many of Charles Woodson in terms of his cover skills and physicality.
It was Woodson of course who turned in one of the most historic plays in series history back in 1997, as seen below.
McCarthy’s full press conference along with fellow star of the Penn State game Donovan Edwards can be seen below as well.