Michigan, Michigan State back in familiar roles

BY foxsports • October 3, 2009

The auto industry remains stuck in neutral, unemployment continues to hover around 15 percent and nearly 20,000 homes entered foreclosure in August. Clearly, the state of Michigan remains mired in hard times, longing for a return to the prosperity of the past.

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In one respect, though, things have come full circle since last year.

Michigan's little corner of the college football universe seems to have been restored to order.

As they prepare to play Saturday in East Lansing, Michigan and Michigan State have settled back into the familiar roles they've occupied for most of the past 40 years. That means the 4-0 Wolverines are finding ways to win games, while the 1-3 Spartans keep discovering new ways to lose them.

It wasn't supposed to be like this again this soon, given Michigan's 3-9 record last season and MSU's 9-4 finish.

Rich Rodriguez, the thinking went, was a bad fit as the coach in Ann Arbor, and Mark Dantonio was custom-tailored for the Spartans. In-state recruiting started tilting toward MSU for the first time since the mid-'60s, signaling a seismic shift in a pecking order that had prevailed since Bo Schembechler promised, "Those who stay will be champions."

Instead, it's Rodriguez enjoying a Year 2 renaissance with the Wolverines. He's already surpassed last season's win total, despite an eve-of-the-season Detroit Free Press investigation that alleged he violated NCAA rules by engaging players in workouts beyond the allowable 20-hour weekly limit.

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