Here are six individuals from the past two decades that proved to be more than a thorn in the side of the opposition during the battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy:
Defensive back (1995-98)
Charles Woodson gets all the ink when it comes to Michigan's win over Michigan State during the Wolverines' national title season of 1997. And, rightfully so. No one's really sure how he hauled in that famous one-handed interception.
But, statistically, Ray had a better game. The then-junior safety racked up two of Michigan's six interceptions on the day and added six tackles as the Wolverines won 23-7. Ray's first interception was a momentum-changer, as it came shortly after Michigan State converted a fake field goal touchdown pass to go up 7-3.
Ray would add another interception in the fourth quarter, giving him four picks in two years against MSU. As a sophomore in 1995, Ray posted 10 tackles and two interceptions in the Wolverines' 45-29 win.
And just for good measure, the former second-team All-American stirred the pot a bit more this week with some rather salty words for Michigan State fans in a Detroit News article.
"It will snow in July in northern Africa before Michigan State wins a national championship," Ray remarked.
Wide receiver (2001-04)
When Edwards graduated in 2004, perhaps no other Big Ten school rejoiced more than Michigan State. His legacy against the Spartans began as a junior in 2003 when he turned in a sparkling seven-catch, 103-yard, two-touchdown performances in a 27-20 Michigan win.
But he wasn't done. Not even close.
Edwards didn't just rip the hearts out of Spartan fans in 2004. He stomped them, kicked them, chewed them up and spit them back out.
Edwards' 2004 Michigan-Michigan State party began with 6:12 to go in the fourth, when he ripped the ball away from MSU defensive back Jaren Hayes for a 36-yard score that brought the Wolverines within a touchdown.
Three minutes later, Edwards and Hayes met in the end zone again. The result? Exactly the same. Edwards once again abused Hayes on a Chad Henne jump ball, hauling in a 21-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 27, erasing MSU's once 17-point lead and forcing the game into overtime.
In triple overtime, Edwards didn't out-leap Hayes, he burned him on a post. His 24-yard catch and run proved to be the game-winner, as the Wolverine defense held Michigan State on its ensuing possession to hand the Spartans perhaps their biggest gut-punch in Paul Bunyan Trophy history.
In three total games against Michigan State, Edwards tallied 22 catches for 323 yards and five touchdowns.
Running back (2004-07)
Figured we'd save the biggest villain for last.
If anyone ever earned the right to call a team his "little brother," it was probably Hart against Michigan State.
In four career games against the Spartans, Hart put together rushing totals that would resemble a fine season for plenty of college running backs.
As a freshman in 2004, Hart racked up 224 yards and a touchdown in the Wolverines' 45-37 comeback victory. In 2005, he shook off an injury and rumbled for 218 yards and a score as Michigan won in overtime for the second straight year.
In 2006, he put up 122 yards on the ground as the Wolverines won easily. For his curtain call in 2007, Hart put up 110 yards as Michigan came from behind for the third time in four years.
To top it all off?
"Sometimes, you get your little brother excited when you're playing basketball -- let them get the lead," he said following the 2007 win. "And then you come back."
In four career games against Michigan State, Hart rushed for a total of 674 yards. That's 73 yards more than any Michigan running back gained last season.
Michigan State villains
Wide receiver/defensive back (1989-90)
As the T-shirts read: 'No. One vs. No One.'
Michigan was the No. 1 team in the country. Michigan State was unranked, had lost its first conference game of the season and sat at 1-2-1 on the season.
You know where this is going.
A massive underdog in Michigan Stadium, the unheralded Spartans (quarterbacked by current Central Michigan head coach Dan Enos) gave the Wolverines everything they wanted and then some.
Michigan State pulled in front 28-21 after a 9-yard scoring run by Tico Duckett with just 1:59 to play.
Michigan would answer, though, getting a seven-yard touchdown pass from Elvis Grbac to Derrick Alexander with just 6 seconds to play. Rather than go for the tie, then Michigan coach Gary Moeller elected to try the two-point conversion for the win.
Brown had other plans.
Lined up across from eventual Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard, Brown appeared badly beaten on an inside route toward the middle of the end zone. The ball was thrown on the money, but a stumbling Howard was unable to hang on.
Why was the ball dropped?
"I saw six-foot, five (inch) Elvis Grbac back there about to dump it in there for an easy two points and I'm thinking there's no way I can go back to East Lansing if I give up this play," Brown told The Ann Arbor News in 1999. "So I tripped him and I tried to act like I tripped and fell.
"(My teammates) were grabbing me and jumping me and I was like, 'Get me off the field,' because I knew I got away with it." Michigan still had one last chance after a recovered onside kick, but Brown put the capper on his day by intercepting Grbac to end the game and ruin the Wolverines' national championship hopes.
Spartan Stadium clock operator
Oh what a difference one second makes.
Trailing 24-20 with possession in the 2001 game's final minutes, Michigan State received some help from Michigan after a 4th-down facemask penalty and a 12-men on the field flag gave the Spartans new life near the Wolverine goal line.
What happened next goes down as one of the more talked-about moments in the rivalry's history.
With 17 seconds remaining, MSU faced a 2nd-and-goal from inside the 5-yard-line. Quarterback Jeff Smoker kept the ball on a rollout and ran to the 2-yard line at the 12-second mark.
With the clock continuing to run, Smoker got up and gathered the Spartans at the line to attempt a clock-stopping spike. Five, four, three, two, one, (slight pause) -- spike.
After being allowed the spike following a seemingly long final second, Smoker rolled to his right, threw left and found a wide open T.J. Duckett in the end zone for the game-winner as time expired.
Michigan's high BCS ranking was ruined, and Wolverine fans everywhere cried massive foul on Spartan Stadium clock operator Bob Stehlin, known as "Spartan Bob."
The controversy eventually led the Big Ten to change its clock operating policy, calling for an independent clock operator a year later.
As for Spartan Bob? He maintained his innocence this week in the Lansing State Journal, explaining that he watched Smoker put down the spike before stopping the clock with one second to play.
"I didn't cheat," he said.
Stehlin got the grief, but the real on-field thorns in Michigan's side that day were penalty flags (the Wolverines had seven for 76 yards) and Duckett (who rushed for 211 yards).
MSU head coach (2007-present)
He's only in his fifth season at Michigan State, but Dantonio is already one of the most successful Spartan coaches when it comes to dealing with Michigan.
After hearing Hart refer to his program as "little brother" in 2007, Dantonio has made plenty of Wolverine supporters eat those words.
He scored the program's first Michigan Stadium victory in 18 years during a 35-21 win over the Wolverines in 2008. In 2009, Dantonio's defense held Rich Rodriguez's spread-option offense to just 251 total yards before holding off a late Michigan rally with a 26-20 overtime victory.
And last season, just three weeks after suffering a heart attack, Dantonio was in the Michigan State coaches' booth as his Spartans dominated Michigan for a second straight win in Ann Arbor, and third straight overall in the series.
If Dantonio and company can score a win Saturday, it'll be the first time since 1959-62 that Michigan State has topped Michigan four straight times.
"Maybe some day the little brother believes he can compete with the big brother," Dantonio said after last season's win. "I have great respect for Michigan, outstanding respect for Coach Rodriguez and the job that they do. We felt like when we came here as a staff we were going to be a player in the state here."