Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 10/11/11
EAST LANSING, Mich. Former Michigan State coach George Perles lives by the philosophy youre either for me or against me. Fifth-year senior quarterback Kirk Cousins takes the same approach when it comes to the rivalry with Michigan and Saturdays game at Spartan Stadium. The biggest thing is how personal it is, Cousins said Tuesday during a news conference. You have so many people close to you, family members, close friends who are Michigan fans, who are going to let you hear about it year-round whether or not you lose. Its a constant rivalry. Thats what makes it such a big deal. When I committed to come to Michigan State, I had close friends even at my high school telling me that they wanted to see me succeed but theyre rooting for Michigan, or theyll root for me every game but one. Thats where you start to realize whos with you and whos not with you. Ultimately, its like saying Im for you but Im not for your wife and kids. The bottom line is youre either for Michigan State and for Kirk, or youre not. Theres no in between. I think this game is a perfect example of that, and thats why its so personal. Its been a little more personal for the Spartans ever since coach Mark Dantonio took over in 2007 and set up countdown clocks to the U-M game around the football building. Dantonio lost a heartbreaker to Michigan in his first year. After the game, Michigan running back Mike Hart mocked the Spartans, calling them Little Brother. Dantonio fired back two days later in his weekly press conference, making fun of Harts height and vowing to get even with the Wolverines. Some of it Im proud of, some of it Im not, Dantonio said of how he treated the rivalry. I dont like to stoop to that level, some of my comments after the 07 game. I was emotional. It happens. It becomes personal in this game. You know too many people that make it personal, whether its past players or past coaches.We tend not to forget whats gone on in these games. From day one when we walked in here, we pointed toward that (competing with Michigan). There were others that said we couldnt. We wanted to make a point. I think weve made the point. That loss in 2007 was the sixth straight to the Wolverines for Michigan State, but things have changed. The Spartans have earned respect in the rivalry. This years senior class, including captains such as Cousins, offensive lineman Joel Foreman and free safety Trenton Robinson, are undefeated against Michigan. They can finish their careers 4-for-4 with another victory Saturday. Weve changed the culture, Foreman said of Michigan States mindset in the rivalry. Said Cousins: when we came here as freshmen, we talked about painting the state green and trying to really turn the tide of the state to at least make it 50-50 or more and really put Michigan State on the map again. I think to this point, weve done a good job of that, but theres still work to be done. Our play on Saturday will go a long way in helping us in that direction. Thats why this game is so important. Taking the lead from their coach, Michigan State players constantly refer to this game against Michigan as personal. Robinson, who grew up in Bay City, was asked to explain. I really dont want to go all into that, Robinson said. I am emotional and I dont want to get all involved in that. In other words, he didnt want to provide any bulletin-board material. Like Dantonio at times, Robinson bit his lip. But he did describe the impact. This is a game for recruiting, Robinson said. This is a game to win over fans. This is the biggest game of the year for us. (Dantonio) lets us know this is a must-win game. Youve got to win. I cant wait. We cant wait. I cant explain how youre supposed to feel, but you will see on Saturday. Asked whether he would encourage his seniors to celebrate four straight victories over the Wolverines for the rest of their lives if they win Saturday, Dantonio said, smiling, Im encouraging it. I think 4-0 is great, 5-0 is better. Well just keep working toward it. Whats happened, whats done is done. But I think thats something our football team and our players can look at and embrace as they move forward. Michigan State dominated the 2008 and 2010 games while pulling out the 09 game in overtime. Once inferior to Michigan, the Spartans no longer are playing the role of Little Brother. In fact, after last years 34-17 victory in Ann Arbor, Michigan State fans were taunting the Wolverines with chants of Little Sister. I dont think it goes out the window, Cousins said of the three-game winning streak, but I dont think anything we did last year is suddenly going to help us on Saturday. Michigan has a new head coach, a new program, a new team. Its a year-in, year-out thing. Weve been able to have the last three years in our favor, but we go back to work this week to try to make it a fourth. I dont think we rest on any success in the past. With the way Michigan is playing, they clearly could care less about what happened. If anything it only motivates them more. So we need to be ready, and I think we will be. Injury update Michigan State receiver Bennie Fowler (foot) is expected to finally make his season debut, Dantonio said. Fowler is listed as the second team Z receiver on the depth chart. He had 14 receptions for 175 yards and one touchdown last season. Defensive end Tyler Hoover and center BlakeTreadwell, however, remain out for at least three more weeks, possibly the season. Dantonio called Hoover and Treadwell candidates for redshirts.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Five teams that could trade down in the NFL draft

Report: Darrelle Revis to Patriots looks 'increasingly likely'

Two-year-old’s mom claims son is reincarnation of Lou Gehrig

Report: Raiders have at least 27 votes for relocation to Las Vegas

Report: Sean Payton has ‘taken an interest’ in Johnny Manziel

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jags reportedly considering permanent training facility in London

Theo Epstein has great response to being named greatest leader

Peyton Manning says he is not interested in entering politics

Rob Manfred: WBC extra innings rule unlikely to come to MLB

LeBron James: Some Cavaliers players need to be tougher

Adam Jones: US motivated by Puerto Rico’s celebration plans

The 'Once again, Barry Bonds is the best power hitter in San Francisco' quiz

With Team USA's victory the WBC (finally) lived up to its potential

The NFL distraction playbook

Box Score 3/23: Team USA wins their first WBC title

The 'Duke schadenfreude season came early this year' quiz

Which Sweet 16 team should you be rooting for?

The Aesthetic: The world of player exclusive sneakers

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Steph Curry pushes OKC's buttons

Re-ranking the Sweet 16 for the NCAA Tournament

Lingering issues for each 2016 MLB postseason team

Box Score 3/22: Team USA is heading to the championship

The 'With teammates like this, who needs rivals?' quiz

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 'Once again, Barry Bonds is the best power hitter in San Francisco' quiz

The NFL distraction playbook

With Team USA's victory the WBC (finally) lived up to its potential

The Aesthetic: The world of player exclusive sneakers

Which Sweet 16 team should you be rooting for?

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Steph Curry pushes OKC's buttons

Re-ranking the Sweet 16 for the NCAA Tournament

Lingering issues for each 2016 MLB postseason team

Eastern Conference bottom feeders to watch down the stretch

The 'With teammates like this, who needs rivals?' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker