To say that this year’s Michigan-Michigan State rivalry battle will be monumental would be an understatement.

It’ll be far more than that — it’ll be historical.

Should Tucker win, it’d be the biggest victory of his coaching career and a program-defining (during his era) accomplishment for the Spartans. Should Harbaugh win, it’d be another step toward winning a Big Ten championship and a great rebound from last year’s disappointing loss to the heavy-underdog Spartans.

Both coaches’ College Football Playoff dreams rest on this weekend. Of course, Michigan State will still have Penn State and Ohio State; the same goes for Michigan.

But as we learned from PSU’s 9-OT loss to Illinois, and Iowa’s loss to Purdue, it only takes one stumble to fall out of contention in the ridiculously top-heavy Big Ten Conference.

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Michigan Vs. Michigan State

Michigan State, ranked No. 8, and Michigan, ranked No. 6, will face each other as top-10 foes for the first time since 1964. They’ve had handfuls of ranked battles, but it’s been more than 50 years since they’ve reached these heights at the same time.

So much will be on the line for Tucker and Harbaugh.

This year’s game isn’t just a game. It’s far more than the annual matchup that ramps up the stakes for the rest of the year. Something that’s only happened once since ’64 deserves far more consideration than a run-of-the-mill rivalry game.

For those who are curious, No. 4 Michigan walked away with a 17-10 win over No. 9 Michigan State in East Lansing that year, ending a 5-year run of dominance by the Spartans, who went 4-0-1 during that span.

This year will be Harbaugh’s third time being ranked No. 6 or better while facing Michigan State. In 2016, UM was No. 2 in the nation and won 32-23. Everyone remembers Jabrill Peppers breaking the sound barrier after scooping a botched 2-point conversion. His head nod while crossing the goal line was one of the most iconic plays in the rivalry’s recent history.

In 2018, No. 6 Michigan scored a decisive 21-7 win over No. 24 Michigan State in East Lansing.

As No. 6 or better, Harbaugh has won both times and done so in East Lansing.

The Spartans and Wolverines kick off at noon Saturday at Tucker’s Woodshed.

So yeah, there is a bit of history working in Harbaugh’s favor, even if it’s a bit trivial. But don’t forget, Harbaugh is also 7-0 for the first time in years. His 2016 team started 9-0 before losing at Iowa.

For Tucker, there would be no greater satisfaction than beating Harbaugh during a year most picked MSU to dwell in the Big Ten cellar. At 7-0 for the first time since 2015, the Spartans are on the verge of a magical season. Since 2000, the Spartans have been ranked in the top-10 thrice when squaring off with Michigan, winning 2 of 3 — including back-to-back in 2014-2015. They lost as No. 9 in 2003.

During that same span, since 2000, the Wolverines have also entered thrice as a top-10 team. They won 2 of 3, including the 21-7 win 3 years ago in East Lansing — you remember the game, it’s when Donovan Peoples-Jones struck the Paul Bunyan pose after scoring a touchdown.

This game always means a lot to both sides. Every year, both teams will say the same thing. Both coaches will preach about not looking ahead and focusing “one game at a time.”

But that’s all bull.

Both teams have had this game circled on their calendars since last year, and believe this: They’ve both been more and more eager as they’ve climbed the Associated Press rankings and moved closer to Big Ten glory in December.

The Michigan vs. Michigan State rivalry has peaked, and at just the right time.