One of the biggest rivalries in college football is the Michigan Wolverines against the Michigan State Spartans in a Big Ten animosity that is Midwestern gold. The Wolverines took care of business over the weekend in the most recent matchup, winning 29-7. Michigan is No. 4 and stayed undefeated, ending a two-game losing streak to their in-state rival. However, the victory was eclipsed by an altercation between the two teams in the Big House tunnel.
After the game, Michigan defensive back Ja’Den McBurrows had an unwelcome surprise waiting for him off the field.
ESPN captured tunnel video of the Michigan State incident with Michigan after the game on Saturday. pic.twitter.com/Woq3UDl8Xj
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) October 31, 2022
After the game, social media erupted when a viral video showed three Spartans pushing, punching, and kicking Michigan defensive back Ja’Den McBurrows in the tunnel. Additionally, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh revealed that a second unidentified Wolverines player was also attacked, with one player with a potentially broken nose.
“Two of our players were assaulted,” Harbaugh said in a postgame interview. “I saw on the one video. Ten on one. It was pretty bad. It needs to be investigated.”
On the video, McBurrows, and teammate Gemon Green were attacked by several Michigan State football players, resulting in injuries to both players. Now McBurrows’ mother, Kerri Bryan is speaking out about what happened to her son.
“Who would expect at a rivalry game with police officers to not protect these kids?” Bryan said to The Athletic. “At a big game like this, who would have ever expected this?”
Michigan State got their asses kicked on the field and then had to do this. Embarrassing pic.twitter.com/ZhUppi0GgA
— Bussin' With The Boys 🐺 (@BussinWTB) October 30, 2022
Tensions are always high in college sports, especially now when college students are being paid via NIL deals, and a lot rides on individual performance and team wins. However, in Michigan, the rivalry goes beyond X’s and O’s and into deep regional pride.
Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren also is looking into the fracas.
Michigan State coach Mel Tucker said he did not know what happened in the tunnel after the game.
“I know it was a heated game,” Tucker said. “We were trying to get our guys in the locker room. We’ll have to see what happened.”
The fact that Kevin Warren and the Big Ten haven't said a word yet about Michigan State's tunnel assault is concerning.
His son plays for Michigan State and silence isn't the right way to go about this. Being forthright and transparent is the way to go.
— Trevor Woods (@WoodsFootball) November 1, 2022
Now McBurrows’ family wants to “piece everything together” while dealing with the medical attention he still needs for the injuries sustained by the offending Michigan State football players. McBurrows was reportedly treated for a broken nose, and it is unclear if he will pursue legal action; however, his teammate Gemon Green has.
The University of Michigan Police launched a joint investigation in partnership with the Michigan State University Police and Michigan’s athletics department and football program, per a report from University of Michigan Deputy Police Chief Melissa Overton.
“Situations like these, and the safety of the community, are taken very seriously,” Overton said to ESPN.
Physical and mental breakdowns also hurt Michigan State’s chances to pull off the upset. The team made costly mistakes, and the Spartans needed to be flawless to win. At the outset, Spartans offensive tackle Jarrett Horst drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to stunt the opening drive.
The Spartans (3-5, 1-4) went 0-for-two on fourth down in the first half. After falling behind briefly late in the first quarter, the Wolverines (8-0, 5-0 Big Ten) scored 26 straight points.