Brady Hoke: ‘We take that Michigan-Michigan State game very seriously’

Graham Watson

Michigan coach Brady Hoke doesn't want any of his rivals to feel slighted.

While speaking to the Michigan Associated Press sports editors meeting earlier this week, Hoke said his No. 1 focus is the rivalry with "Ohio," but that doesn't mean he gives any less weight to the game against in-state rival Michigan State.

"The in-state rivalry is always something that's important to us," Hoke said. "We have not done our job the last four years if you're on the Michigan side of things. That's coaching, and that has to be better.

"But the Ohio game is the Ohio game. I don't think (that importance is) going to change. And that doesn't lessen anything on the Michigan State game at all, because we realize in this state, you draw a line in the sand."

However, the only one drawing lines in the sand lately are the Spartans, who have won the last four games against the Wolverines with relative ease. With the exception of an overtime game in 2009, the Spartans have defeated Michigan by an average of 15 points.

The lopsidedness of the series even prompted Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio to question whether a rivalry between the two teams even existed.

"We're laying in the weeds," Dantonio said. "We've beat Michigan the last four years. So where's the threat?"

Michigan responded on its Facebook page by calling Dantonio's remarks "Bulletin board material," but it doesn't diminish the fact that Michigan has seemingly forgotten about this rivalry in order to intensify the one with Ohio State.

"I think the reasoning, Michigan and Ohio (State) have been going at it for a long time and we are (Michigan State's) rivalry," Hoke said. "I imagine they may feel Notre Dame is a little bit.

"But from our side of it, we take that (Michigan-Michigan State game) very seriously. I learned that a long time ago."

Maybe serious enough to actually make the "rivalry" a game this year.

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