Battle lines: Familiar names make UM-MSU predictions

Jim Lynch
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — If Year One of the Harbaugh era had started off more slowly, perhaps you could have escaped Saturday’s gravitational pull. Had the Michigan Wolverines not clawed their way to a No. 12 ranking, nearing Michigan State’s even loftier No. 7, you might not have to take a stand.

But it didn’t. They did. And there’s more at stake in this year’s Michigan-Michigan State game at the Big House than there has been in years.

So: Who ya got?

We put the question to some familiar names around the state — got them to go on record and offer a peek into their football souls. Here’s who is picking which team:

■ Starting at the top, Gov. Rick Snyder, who has nothing else on his mind this week: Michigan 17, Michigan State 14.

■Also at the top, or at least higher than us, Red Wings and Tigers owner Mike Ilitch: MSU 28, Michigan 24.

■Wayne County Executive Warren Evans: MSU 17, Michigan 10.

■Former Wayne County executive Robert Ficano: MSU 27, Michigan 17.

■Former vice chairman of General Motors Bob Lutz: “I don’t know. What kind of bikes do they ride?”

■Singer Mayer Hawthorne, an Ann Arbor native: “... Three shut-outs in a row, including undefeated Northwestern? State has got to be a little nervous about that — I don’t care what they say! With (Michigan cornerback Channing) Stribling coming back, if our defense can play as well as they did last week, it’s gonna be a great game. Go Blue!!!”

■Ann Arbor-based DJ and Hawthorne collaborator in Jaded Inc, Kendall Tucker, aka 14KT.: “University of Michigan by 3. Go Blue!” Michigan 24-MSU 21.

■U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, prosecutor and Kwame Kilpatrick nemesis: Michigan 24, MSU 10.

■Detroit City Councilwoman Brenda Jones: MSU 27, Michigan 20.

■Dr. Cindy Grines, vice president of the DMC Heart Hospital whose resume includes a fellowship at the University of Michigan: MSU 31-UM 24.

■Tom Wilson, president and CEO at Olympia Entertainment, went with a tie even though they aren’t possible in college. Why? “I’ve got kids at both universities, so I’m not getting into trouble on this.” Michigan 17, MSU 17.

■Steve Allen, owner and executive chef at Steve and Rocky’s in Novi: MSU 28-UM 18.

■Eminem’s manager and proud Spartan alum Paul Rosenberg: “I believe in Coach Dantonio 100 percent, and if they play extremely well and everybody steps up, we can win. Playing from an underdog position is a position of strength for the Spartans, and I’m glad that we’re not favored to win and I’m glad that the Michigan fans think they’re going to win. That is perfect scenario for Coach Dantonio, nothing fires him up more.” MSU 27, Michigan 24.

And finally, we have Detroit-born and bred singer Bettye LaVette. The longtime soul singer now lives in New Jersey, but nurses a rivalry within her band.

She’s a University of Michigan stalwart because her daughter graduated from there, while her road manager’s daughter graduated from Michigan State. But pressed for a prediction, she went coy.

“I’m on everybody’s side,” she said. “When you’re away from Michigan, you’re happy when anyone in Michigan is doing anything. I have to be against all the teams here, and pro-Michigan everything! So if I find myself at a bar, I will wear my Detroit T-shirt, or Michigan T-shirt, just to cause trouble!”

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