Week nine of the college football season is a big one for rivalries, as on the docket we have Georgia vs Florida, Ole Miss vs Auburn, Penn State vs Ohio State and Michigan vs Michigan State. The latter is the most intriguing of the bunch, as it’s not only the annual battle for state bragging rights, but a top 10 matchup (Michigan is ranked No. 6, Michigan State No. 8) between two undefeated teams taking place on Oct. 30 at noon on Fox.
The Michigan vs Michigan State rivalry goes all the way back to 1898, and the two schools have been competing for the Paul Bunyan Trophy for 68 of those years. Michigan holds the overall edge in the rivalry, 71-37-5, but over the last 10 years it’s been Michigan State winning six of 10, including in 2020.
Whether you’re pulling for the Wolverines or the Spartans, read below for a brief matchup preview and how to watch Michigan vs Michigan State on Saturday, Oct. 30.
Michigan vs Michigan State matchup preview
Both Michigan and Michigan State were outside the top 25 AP rankings at the start of the season, but they have steadily made their way up to where Michigan now sits at No. 6 and Michigan State is just behind them at No. 8. So how did they get there?
Michigan has been pretty dominant in its first seven games of the 2021 season; only two of its games ended up being within one score and only Nebraska has been able to score more than 17 points on the Wolverine defense, which ranks 11th overall in the country as of right now.
The key for Michigan’s offense has been its ground game, which features the running back tandem of Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins, who have rushed for 729 and 602 yards, respectively, and 20 combined touchdowns. Meanwhile, Cade McNamara is providing stable quarterback play, completing 63% of his passes for 1,115 passing yards, five touchdowns and one interception on the season.
This is Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh’s second best start to a season since he arrived in 2015, with the former Stanford and San Francisco 49ers coach hired in the hopes to be playing (and winning) this type of game.
The script has been almost identical for Michigan State, as they’ve only really been in two tightly contested games thus far, with a then No. 24-ranked Miami team their only game against a top-25 opponent. In addition, they have a star running back of their own in Kenneth Walker III, who has rushed for 997 yards and nine touchdowns, putting him in the Heisman debate. Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne is also putting up good numbers, throwing for 1,701 yards and 15 touchdowns with the help of two 500 yard receivers, Jayden Reed and Jalen Nailor.
However, one area for Michigan State that does not line up with Michigan is on the defense. Though only Western Kentucky has scored more than 21 points on the Spartans this year, Michigan State is ranked 89th in the country defensively, giving up more than 400 yards per game.
The winner of this game will have an inside track to the Big Ten Championship game (though both teams still have to play No. 5 Ohio State). Michigan is currently a 4 point favorite in the game.
How to watch Michigan vs Michigan State in the U.S.
Michigan vs Michigan State will be Fox’s nationally televised noon kickoff game on Oct. 30. Having the game on Fox means that it will be available on local Fox stations in all markets, which is available on essentially every traditional cable and satellite provider out there, as well as being accessible for TV viewers utilizing a good old fashioned TV antenna.
Fox is also available through live TV streaming services that include Fubo TV, Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV and YouTube TV. With all those services, Fox is included in all base packages except Sling TV, which features two packages that start at $35 per month, Orange and Blue; Fox is available just on Sling TV Blue.
Anyone who subscribes to these services will also be able to watch the game live via the Watch Fox Sports app and the Fox Sports website, using their login credentials for authentication.
How to watch Michigan vs Michigan State from anywhere in the world
Not in a place where the Fox broadcast is available? That’s where a virtual private network, or VPN, can come in hand. A VPN is designed to route network traffic through a specific set of servers in a specific country, allowing viewers to watch content on an encrypted feed over a computer.
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Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Only Murders in the Building, Yellowstone, The Boys, Game of Thrones and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.