Ann Arbor – No one is hiding true sentiments.
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio doesn't like Michigan.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke isn't all that fond of Michigan State.
Hoke, at his weekly news conference Monday advancing the upcoming Michigan-Michigan State game on Saturday at Spartan Stadium, was asked about Dantonio making it perfectly clear how he feels about the Wolverines.
"We don't necessarily like them, either," Hoke said. "This isn't an admiration society. It's a great rivalry. You've got two teams, 45 miles apart, that might be not enough, but that's what it is."
No, no one really likes each other in this rivalry.
While Michigan won last season at Michigan Stadium, Michigan State has had the upper hand, winning the previous four games. Michigan (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) currently is ranked No. 23, and Michigan State (7-1, 4-0) is No. 24. The Spartans boast the nation's top-rated defense.
The outcome of this game will have a significant impact on the Legends Division race.
"It is an important football game when you look at where they want to be and where we want to be at the end of November," Hoke said.
Michigan senior left tackle Taylor Lewan, a co-captain, explained there are different levels of disliking an opponent.
"It's not like I'm going against UConn and be like, 'I really like these guys, so we're just going to barely win,'" Lewan said. "You never like your opponent. Ever.
"Because it's a rivalry, you like these opponents less than everyone else. Michigan State? No, we don't like them. Do they like us? No. That's the beauty of this game."
The Michigan-Michigan State game two years ago in East Lansing wasn't exactly beautiful. Michigan State had 13 penalties, including six of the game's seven personal fouls.
To call the Spartans physical in that game would be an understatement. Michigan players after the game said they were out-toughed by MSU.
"Sixty minutes of unnecessary roughness -- that's pretty much how we describe it," senior right tackle Michael Schofield said when asked how he describes the 2011 game to Michigan's younger players. "It was a battle, a fight."
Lewan said the Wolverines were "bullied" in that game.
"That's tough for me to admit," Lewan said.
He took a punch during that game from former Spartan William Gholston, for which Gholston was suspended one game by the Big Ten. Lewan made sure he carried a reminder with him for a year, apparently keeping a picture of the Gholston punch on his cell phone screen saver.
"That may be true," Lewan said when asked about the reminder. "I'm not here to give out what I do before games, so that might be true."
Was it on the phone a whole year?
"Something like that," he said.
In that same game, Gholston twisted U-M quarterback Denard Robinson’s helmet as Robinson was on the ground in the bottom of a pile after getting tackled.
Michigan defeated Michigan State in a closely contested game, 12-10, last season, but the focus this week is the 2011 game. After all, it's the first time the Wolverines have played in East Lansing since being "bullied."
"If somebody came up to you and hit you right in the face, would you take that personally? Yeah, I take that personally," Lewan said.
"Nobody likes to get bullied, and that's what they did two years ago -- they bullied us. That's tough for me to admit because I don't like getting bullied. It's going to be a physical game. A very physical game. We're not going to get bullied this year."
The Wolverines haven't forgotten, and they certainly don't want to as they prepare a second week for the Spartans. Michigan had last Saturday off.
"We want to go to State this year and make sure we're ready for that," Schofield said of MSU's physical play. "I'm not going to say we're going to go out there and start fighting, but we've got to be a tough team, too."