Even the Chicago Cubs were more progressive than Michigan football when it comes to playing under the lights. The first night game at Wrigley Field took place in 1988. The Wolverines’ first primetime affair didn’t come until 23 years later — a thrilling 35-31 victory over Notre Dame. Since then they’ve played only two more — against the Irish in 2013 and Wisconsin in 2014.
Under the Big Ten’s new television deal, Michigan can host up to two night games a year and up to three over a two-year span. Athletic director Warde Manuel said the Oct. 7 date with Michigan State and Nov. 4 matchup with Minnesota are under consideration.
What I am about to say hurts me as Spartan.
Michigan fans deserve to see their Wolverines play Michigan State under the lights. They deserve an entire day of tailgating and to savor the spoils of victory under the lights.
They deserve this despite the refusal to accept their instate rivals as a real rival. They deserve this despite looking down their noses and referring to MSU as Little Brother.
Because they’ve endured a stomach-turning decade. Little Brother had beaten Big Brother seven out of eight times before Jim Harbaugh’s group went into East Lansing last season and earned a victory.
They deserve it because they’ve had to sit through painful home losses to MSU in 2008 and 2010. They deserve it because they had to have their hearts ripped from their chests with a botched punt in 2015.
Stubborn Wolverine fans will never admit this, but they’ve toiled as second-class citizens in the state for far too long. Harbaugh’s steady hand and the Spartans’ implosion have combined to restore what they believe to be proper order.
And while Michigan certainly has some question marks entering this season, they have more answers than MSU. It’s tough to imagine the spread will be less than a touchdown when October rolls around.
Revenge in Ann Arbor has been a long time coming and logic says it will be exacted. Getting it at noon or 3:30 will feel good, no doubt, but there’s something extra special about capping off a day of partying with a delicious nightcap.
Sure, there are logistical concerns. The police will have their hands full. Rowdiness combined with animosity is a volatile combination. But if Michigan wants to make their primetime spots count, this is their chance.
Putting Little Brother to bed in the most visible and special way possible would feel extra sweet.
Indulge yourselves, Big Blue. You deserve it.