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 ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -Michigan is college football's winningest team and owns its rivalry against Michigan State, winning six straight, every game at home since 1990 and nearly 70 percent overall.
Entering his debut in the rivalry, Rich Rodriguez acknowledged those facts aren't going to help the Wolverines (2-5, 1-2 Big Ten) beat the Spartans (6-2, 3-1) at home on Saturday.
``I don't ignore the past. I just don't dwell on it,'' Rodriguez said. ``I'm more about focusing on the moment, not even looking in the future.
``The tradition and pride, having won a few years in a row, I think is a neat thing. But again, it's not going to help you get a first down or make a tackle.''
The Wolverines' opponents have lined up to take their best shot at the once-mighty program during its rebuilding phase and many of them have come away with a victory.
era began - and will have to rally just to avoid a school-record seven losses.
The Wolverines have played in 33 straight bowl games and insist they haven't given up hope on making it 34.
``Guys didn't come here to lose,'' defensive tackle Terrance Taylor said. ``Losing is like foreign here. It's a shock to the system, but you can't fight laying on your back. You just have to get up.
``I truly believe that at the end of the season we will be at a bowl game. All we have to do is win the rest of these games. It's possible.''
Rodriguez tried to look at the big picture, coming off a third straight loss, when asked about his players' psyche.
``It's a ballgame. It's an event. It's not who they are,'' Rodriguez bristled. ``It's not life-altering or anything.''
Rodriguez said the sky isn't falling in Ann Arbor, but some might've done a double-take when they saw the point spread this week.
The Spartans are favored to win in Ann Arbor for the first time since 1968 even though they're just were handed a deflating 45-7 home loss to Ohio State.
Players are wary of hearing people say they're the same-old Spartans, who have started strong and failed to maintain momentum in each of the past five years.
're trying to change that mind-set around here.''
Michigan State hopes it can continue a trend in the series and the season, winning on the ground.
The winner of the rivalry has had more yards rushing in 35 of the past 38 years and that seems to favor the Spartans because of Ringer, who leads the nation with 1,179 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns. The Spartans are 5-0 when he runs for 100 yards and 1-2 when he doesn't top the mark, including last week's season-low 67 yards against the Buckeyes.
``Once we stop the run and limit them to just passing,'' Taylor predicted, ``I think it's going to be a different game.''
Taylor sounded very confident when sizing up the key to the game this week, but some of his teammates have been downright cocky.
``We are not going to lose to State,'' Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham told reporters.
That comment along with others, especially former Wolverines star Mike Hart referring to Michigan State as ``a little brother'' last year, has fired up the Spartans.
``Stuff like that, you don't really forget,'' Ringer said. ``But there's nothing we can really do about it. We can talk all we want, but it's our actions on the field that will show how much we really think of that.''
Coach Mark Dantonio agrees.
Unlike his predecessor, John L. Smith, the hype of Michigan week is stoked by Dantonio.
Dantonio said.
Ringer simply said it's the biggest game of the year.
``We could lose every other game this year, as long as we get this one,'' Ringer said. ``This is the most important game for us.''
The Wolverines have an unusual sense of desperation. They have to win four of their last five to be eligible for a bowl.
``A victory would be a lot of deodorant,'' Michigan defensive tackle Will Johnson said. ``It wouldn't erase everything that has happened, but it would put us back on track to finish this season out right.''

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