There is no shortage of excitement or attention on Saturday’s match up between No. 6 Michigan and No. 8 Michigan State. While Mel Tucker says that the Spartans are blocking out the outside noise, the players are welcoming the buzz that comes with an undefeated, nationally-ranked, rivalry game.
“The more noise the better,” said Michigan State tight end Connor Heyward. “We’re the team, we have to play. Obviously we love the hype, it is an opportunity and I think we worked for this. We’re 7-0 and hopefully the hype continues. In order for that to happen, we have to continue to produce.”
Connor Heyward & Payton Thorne echoing the focus of blocking out the outside noise, but Heyward says the more noise the better. He says they see social media, the tailgates already set up, & all that’s being said… and they like it. pic.twitter.com/NJI8UYsW5S— Jeanna Trotman (@JeannaTrotmanTV) October 25, 2021
Mel Tucker and his players were in no way downplaying the rivalry or pretending this game was no different than any other. Tucker said he held a history lesson prior to practice Monday morning to teach his team the tradition of the Paul Bunyan trophy and all that goes into the Michigan and Michigan State rivalry. Even for the younger players who have never seen game action against Michigan, Tucker said it isn’t difficult to instill the intensity or animosity that is in store against the Wolverines.
“It is in your face and not just today, it’s been like that every single day since the day I’ve been here,” said Tucker. “February 12th, 2020. There hasn’t been a day that has gone by that someone hasn’t mentioned something to me about this game.”
Mel Tucker on intensity of rivalry with Michigan: "It's in your face, not just today. It’s been like that every single day since the day I’ve been here. February 12th, 2020. There hasn’t been a day that has gone by that someone hasn’t mentioned to me something about this game.” pic.twitter.com/gxuWAnMzml— Jeanna Trotman (@JeannaTrotmanTV) October 25, 2021
Tucker harped the importance of listening to voice inside the building, while blocking out distractions. Heyward and other players agreed the team is doing well in handling the noise and embracing the rivalry.
“You can’t get too caught up in the hype,” said Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne. “At the end of the day it is a 60-minute game. The game and the rules are not changing.”
Mel Tucker: “We understand this is not just another game.” 👀 pic.twitter.com/9Lp6q1eoh9— Jeanna Trotman (@JeannaTrotmanTV) October 25, 2021
Michigan and Michigan State kick off from East Lansing at noon on Saturday October 30. The game is being televised on FOX and ESPN’s College Game Day will be live from Michigan State University.
“When you have rivalry games like this, at the end of the day, ultimately, your legacy and reputation really is formed on how you play and coach in these games,” said Tucker.