Michigan State vs Michigan: Five things to watch in Big Ten showdown

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Oct 10, 2015; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback Jake Rudock (15) indicates a touchdown by running back Derrick Green (27) in the fourth quarter against the Northwestern Wildcats at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State vs Michigan will be the biggest game in the Big Ten thus far in 2015, and this rivalry which spans decades is rife with big matchups and key points to watch. 

The 6-0 Michigan State Spartans travel to play their in-state rival Michigan Wolverines, who are 5-1, on Saturday at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

For the first time since 2011, both teams are ranked in the top 25, with the Spartans ranked seventh in the country and the Wolverines ranked twelfth. Michigan State has been as high as No. 2 in the country, and in spite of still being undefeated, they’ve struggled with lesser foes to the point where they’ve dropped five spots in the polls.

Michigan started the season unranked with low expectations, and those expectations dropped even more after a close 24-17 loss on the road against Utah to open the season. Since then Utah has proven to be one of the best teams in the country and the Utes have climbed their way to No. 4 in the AP poll, and under the leadership of head coach Jim Harbaugh, Michigan has ripped off an overwhelming streak of destruction over the last five weeks.

The Wolverines have outscored their opponents 160-14 over the past five games, and have shutout the last three opponents they’ve faced in BYU, Maryland and Northwestern.

Everything rides on this one for both teams. If Michigan State wins, their lofty goals of competing for and winning both the Big Ten title and a College Football Playoff berth remains in play, and they will keep bragging rights over Michigan for another year after having won six of the last seven in this rivalry.

If Michigan wins, their surprising dream season continues, and they will remain in the thick of things for the Big Ten title. Michigan also most likely controls its own destiny with regards to the CFP, due to the fact that if they win out they will have gone through Michigan State, Ohio State, and whoever wins the West Division of the Big Ten.

This is the biggest game between these powerhouses in years, and there are five key points to keep your eye on in this one.

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