Michigan State football: Q&A with GBM Wolverine ahead of big game

Michigan Wolverines tight end Luke Schoonmaker is tackled by Michigan State Spartans cornerback Justin White during first half action Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021.Msu Mich
Michigan Wolverines tight end Luke Schoonmaker is tackled by Michigan State Spartans cornerback Justin White during first half action Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021.Msu Mich /

We are staring the Michigan vs. Michigan State football game right in the face as the two teams are getting ready to square off on Saturday night in Ann Arbor.

There’s been plenty of pessimism from the Spartan fanbase ahead of the game and lowered expectations based on the awful 3-4 start to the year, but we decided we’d get the enemy’s perspective on the game.

We got to catch up with GBM Wolverine‘s Joshua LaFond and ask him a few questions about the game and the rivalry. You can find his own Q&A with me here.

Q: What has been your impression of MSU so far this season?

Joshua: Disappointed but not surprised. I’ll be honest with you, despite Mel Tucker owning Michigan thus far in his tenure (2-0) I’ve never been sold on him. 

Hitting on Kenneth Walker III was a one-in-a-million shot. Walker was a Heisman candidate and masked a ton of issues for the Spartans last year. I think you’re seeing some of those same issues come back around now that a generational talent who won close games almost single-handedly is gone. 

I expected anywhere between 6-6 to 9-3 preseason for MSU, but the manner in which they’ve lost has been surprising. 

Q: A lot of Michigan fans like to downplay this game, what is your feeling on MSU vs. Michigan?

Joshua: I think the Michigan fans who do downplay this rivalry are stupid, and I don’t mind saying that. 

Mark Dantonio and Michigan State owned the Wolverines for almost 10 years. It’s bad blood, always had been always will be. 

Despite Michigan vs. Ohio State being the premier rivalry and one you bleed over, Michigan vs. Michigan State is personal. It had a familial feel to it because of how close the schools are, and the fact that most Michigan fans have Spartan friends and family and vice versa. 

It’s dirty, it’s nasty and it’s one of the premier rivalries in all of college football. 

Q: What is your confidence level heading into this game?

Joshua: About a 6-7. 

Listen, there’s no reason Michigan shouldn’t win this game. Last year? I was scared to death. Kenneth Walker III terrified me and that fear came to fruition. This year though? Michigan is the far better team and should put the Spartans to bed. 

If this was Illinois, Maryland, or say Nebraska, then I would say 9-10 confidence level. But it’s not. Michigan State is Michigan State and this is a rivalry that the Wolverines haven’t always prepared well for. So once they come out of the gates and own MSU from the jump under Jim Harbaugh, I’ll have to believe it when I see it. 

Q: What scares you the most about playing Michigan State on Saturday?

Joshua: The fact that Jim Harbaugh is 0-2 against Mel Tucker and that this is MSU. 

If you were born after 1995 like I was, then you understand the ups and downs of this rivalry. Better MSU teams have lost to worse Michigan teams and vice versa. 

Payton Thorne hitting NFL-level throws on jump ball plays is something I expect because that’s just what this rivalry brings. 

Hopefully Michigan can get after him and limit a passing game that likely needs to carry the Spartan offense. 

Q: Who are some lesser-known Michigan players we should be watching for?

Joshua: Freshman defensive end Derrick Moore and tight end Luke Schoonmaker. 

Moore is coming on as of late and was a borderline five-star prospect last cycle who signed with the Wolverines late. He rotates with transfer end Eyabi Okie and senior end (and captain) Mike Morris. He will be a star eventually, and this could be a game where he has a coming-out party of sorts. 

Schoonmaker, on the other hand, is someone who might sound familiar to Spartan fans, but they maybe aren’t super aquatinted with. After starting tight Erick All shut it down with a back surgery last week, Schoonmaker has fully locked down the TE1 job and has really emerged this season as a go-to target for quarterback JJ McCarthy. 

Q: What’s your prediction?

Joshua: I fully expect Mel Tucker and his Spartans to call and execute their best-scripted drive on their first offensive possession, but that’ll be where it starts and stops for them. 

Michigan is blood hungry and they smell chum in the water. Previous Jim Harbaugh squads (prior to 2021) would’ve overlooked MSU. Not this one. 

They want revenge and I think they’ll get it — exorcising some demons from last year in the meantime. 

Michigan 49, Michigan State 16

A big thanks to Joshua for taking the time to answer these questions.

Next. 3 bold predictions for MSU vs. Michigan. dark