'Win or lose ... this is just a great thing': fans react to Spartans' win

East Lansing — A few fans trickled out from Spartan Stadium just before the game ended Saturday afternoon, rushing to avoid the coming avalanche.

CJ Pruitt, 23, was ready to call the game then, when the Michigan State University Spartans led the University of Michigan Wolverines 37-33 with 90 seconds on the clock.

Fans enjoy the pregame fun as the University of Michigan takes on Michigan State University in East Lansing.

"Oh, it's already over," said Pruitt. "You hear the crowd behind me? That's game time." 

Pruitt was not wrong, as the game that was billed as one of the biggest in the history of the MSU-UM rivalry, ended with a Spartans victory for the second consecutive year, recovering from the Wolverines' 16-point advantage in the third quarter. 

“The clubs are going up tonight, baby! It’s crazy," said Pruitt, an East Lansing native and Spartans fan. "It was good to see the new coach coming in and making a run. I don't know if he's gonna stay this year, but I hope so." 

Former Michigan State basketball player Mateen Cleaves celebrates on the field after a 37-33 win over Michigan.

As the hordes of fans rushed out of the stadium in the minutes after the game, Pruitt's jubilant spirit was not shared by another East Lansing resident who stood forlorn in a navy UM sweatshirt, checking his phone.

Jaleel Canty, 26 and a high school health teacher and football coach, knows that he, an East Lansing Wolverines fan, is an anomaly, and does not mind the occasional heckling; his team is worth it. Put simply, however, he thinks they need to improve. 

"You know, I'm very, very disappointed," said Canty. "We didn't execute well, we had over 500 yards of offense and still weren't able to win the game." 

Still, all was not lost for Canty, and he said he knows what they need to do, and recognized that it is still  a young team. 

"We've still got a chance to win the Big Ten Championship, even with this loss," he said. "We've got to execute in the red zone, stop turning the ball over. I'm not a fan of the two quarterback system, that's what gave us a late turnover. We just have to get better, that's all." 

As fans wearing MSU colors, green and white, walked by his tent after the game, Randy Joppie pointed his grill tongs at them, roared "go green!" as he laughed and offered the strangers a hot dog. 

The MSU alumnus, 58, came from Grand Rapids to tailgate outside the stadium, and said he was especially excited about the Spartans' win because he had been grilling for four hours by the time the game ended. He is ecstatic that his team won, but makes it a point to talk about the unifying impact he thinks the game should have. 

"This is a wonderful thing for the state of Michigan," said Joppie. "Win or lose, whatever it is your team is doing, this is just a great thing." 

Joppie pointed to some Wolverines fans in his tent and said he took as much pleasure in feeding them as he did fellow Spartans, and said the rivalry should just be about the fans having a good time. 

"COVID be damned, we're gonna get it out," he said. "We're going to have a lot of fun...it's just so great." 

Michigan fan Tyler Hudson was a little more forgiving of the team when he streamed out of the Harrison Roadhouse in East Lansing after Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara threw the interception late in the game that sealed the Spartans' victory.

Hudson, 27, came out from Kalamazoo for the game. He was disappointed with the result, but not with his team’s effort — a four-point road loss to an undefeated MSU team.

“This wasn’t a bad loss,” Hudson said after the game. “They’re a good team. And I thought Michigan played well."