UM, MSU fans battle it out in anticipation of Big Game

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — The football rivalry between Michigan State University and the University of Michigan was in full swing Wednesday as fans of each team gathered at Campus Martius park to celebrate the upcoming match up later this month.

The Big Game Detroit Rally, in its second year, included tug of war and sack race competitions on the park’s lawn during the lunch break. Alumni flag football games will take place from 5-8 p.m. Wednesday.

“Within the state of Michigan and especially here in the Detroit area the MSU and U of M annual game is such an anticipated rivalry and there are so many alumni from both universities who live, work and come downtown,” said Njia Kai, programming and special events director for Detroit Downtown Parks. “This was a hit. Last year and this year we’ve been blessed with really great weather for this day.”

The MSU Spartans will play the Michigan Wolverines on Oct. 29. at Spartan Stadium.

Alumni and fans visited the selfie station to take a photo in their favorite team’s helmet. Wolverine followers spray painted maize and blue signs to show their loyalty.

Among those enjoying the festivities were Quicken Loans employees Mridula Pandit and Sreenivas Kanna. They represented MSU during a game of tug of war despite neither of them being graduates of the school. In fact, Pandit admitted she’s a Michigan alumna and hopped to the other side because they needed more players.

Her team won.

“MSU won with U of M support,” she said with a laugh.

Pandit said she planned to participate in the alumni flag football game. Will she represent her alma mater this time?

“Of course!” she said.

The alumni flag football game, which is free for players and spectators, will include three rounds. MSU was last year’s winner.

Antoine Johnson, with the Detroit 300 Conservancy, volunteered to participate in the sack races. Johnson, who represented Michigan, was one of the front runners during the competition.

“It was fun,” he said. “I had a good time doing it.”

Days before the big game later this month fans ages 21 and up are invited to a pre-game tailgating party from 5-9 p.m. Oct. 26 at Campus Martius Park. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

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