EAST LANSING (AP) — When Max Bullough was growing up, he’d occasionally ask his grandfather about Michigan State’s decades-old rivalry with Michigan.
Hank Bullough never seemed all that willing to play along.
“He’s always said the same thing, and he’s always been very calm about it,” Max Bullough said. “This is another game. We’ve got to go play and we want to win it, and it means the same thing as every other game does. And I always expected a different answer.”
Now, the younger Bullough, who was a standout for Traverse City St. Francis, can offer his own answer, and like the rest of the Spartans, he isn’t about to downplay Saturday’s clash between No. 24 Michigan State and No. 23 Michigan.
Perhaps times have changed a bit — it’s easier for fans of both teams to antagonize each other than it was 60 years ago — and Max Bullough learned at an early age that this is no ordinary game.
“I’d go to school and other kids liked Michigan, and we’d start talking back and forth even when we were little,” said Bullough, now a senior linebacker for Michigan State’s top-ranked defense.
“When you’re a kid in middle school, guys are rooting for each of their teams, and in elementary school, I think that’s kind of where it starts to grow, at least it did for me.”
Hank Bullough played for Michigan State during the early 1950s, and Max’s father Shane followed suit in the mid-80s. Two of Max Bullough’s uncles also played for the Spartans.
The family legacy is ongoing. Max’s younger brother Riley is a redshirt freshman this season.
Hank Bullough is well aware of how important this game has become for both Michigan State and Michigan, but there is an air of matter-of-factness in his voice when he talks about his own playing days.