There are a lot of contenders. Usually, tOSU gets the nod for biggest game of the year. And they should. The Game is equaled by none other year-in and year-out. Other normal opponents like Penn State, Notre Dame or Wisconsin or Iowa can easily make the case for top billing. I could actually go ahead that throw Purdue onto this list because of the Rodriguez/Hope debacle from last year.
But in 2010, Sparty is Michigan's biggest game of the year.
So okay, yeah that's all fine a great, but that's the same for any season. What makes 2010 so important?
Well, MSU is the biggest home game on the schedule this year. That scores this game big bonus points. tOSU, Penn State, and Notre Dame are all on the road. And, we have a two year losing streak against them. More bonus points.
But perhaps the biggest reason Sparty makes the top of the list for 2010 game of the year...Rich Rodriguez's job may be kept or lost by the end of that game.
This is conditional of course. If he sails his team into this game 5-0, of course he'll probably be bullet-proof if he loses a close one. But if Michigan's record is a more realistic 4-1 or 3-2, this game is a must-win for Rodriguez. No question the fans and alumni feel that 3-straight losses to Little Brother is just unacceptable. And I'm sure everyone within the football team and staff feels the same way.
But I'm here to tell you right here and now that if Michigan loses to Michigan State again this year, Rodriguez may not live to coach against Iowa the next week.
But what about tOSU? We've lost 6 straight to them...doesn't that streak hold more weight than 2 losses to Sparty?
Oddly enough, it doesn't. And the reason is, losing to tOSU for the last 3 years has been almost expected. They've been a far more impressive team that Michigan has. And the talent gap has only widened. Ever since 2006, The Game just hasn't had the same feel for Michigan fans. And until we close that talent gap, expectations for the last game of the year will continue to remain low.
But that's why MSU has stepped up to become the game of the year. Not only because we feel that we should beat them, but that we need to beat them. And because we haven't, this matchup has become the focal point for whether or not Rodriguez is truly able to win with this team and guide this program back to dominance.