Houses divided: Families enjoy Michigan-MSU rivalry

A close up look at the MSU vs. Michigan rivalry.

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, MICH. - Saturday's Michigan vs. Michigan State football game--a 14-10 nail-biter in favor of State--was equally contentious in many West Michigan households. Families hosted "House Divided" parties for couples who root for different teams.

Fandom for Michigan and Michigan State is split almost evenly in Grand Rapids zip codes, according to data obtained by the New York Times in 2014. 

"We're not shy about sharing with the neighborhood about how we feel about our teams," said Doug Ripley, a longtime Michigan fan. He and his wife, Michelle Ripley, host a divided household party each year in Plainfield Township.

Attendance is always pretty split among family and friends, Ripley said.

"Nobody in this house takes it that serious to where anybody's going to get hurt," he said. "But at the same token, it's really competitive."

Throughout the game, people won items from prize tables of both Michigan and Michigan State apparel. And the Ripley's served cookies and truffles designed for each team.

 

Some families, like the Englands in Grand Rapids, took the "House Divided" concept more literally, separating the fan bases into different parts of the house.

"For one game throughout the year, we spend one game watching it apart," said Tony England, an MSU alum whose wife, Leisha, is a U-M fan. "Every other game of the year we watch pretty much together."

The Englands raised the stakes even higher, using their 18 month-old daughter, Aubriella, as part of a bet.

"Because Michigan won last year, she's in Michigan gear for the game," Leisha said. After the State win, Aubriella will be in green and white next year. 

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