BAD AXE — They are longtime friends with diehard loyalties.
They play golf together. Their families hang out together.
But one bleeds Maize and Blue. And the other oozes Green and White.
This is Michigan-Michigan State Saturday. And that means Bad Axe’s Brent Wehner and Mark Brining will put their friendship aside this afternoon and hang it all on the line for the teams they’ve grown to love.
For the fourth consecutive season, Wehner and Brining will attend the Michigan-Michigan State game together. And while they will be sitting side by side at Michigan Stadium come 3:30 p.m., their allegiances are a million miles apart.
Both teams are 5-0 and nationally ranked — adding flare to the big game and friendly rivalry.
“I wouldn’t say I root against Michigan State, but when they lose I don’t cry about it either,” Wehner said. “Growing up, my parents were huge Michigan fans. My dad has been a Michigan fan forever. So I have liked them since I was a little kid. It’s always been Michigan from the start.”
As devoted Wehner is to Michigan, Brining might have an even stronger bond to Michigan State.
“My dad, an alum, started taking me to games when I was like 4,” said Brining, who also is an MSU graduate. “I haven’t missed many (home football) games since... I always root against (Michigan) except when they can help Michigan State. If a Michigan win is going to help Michigan State in the Big Ten standings, then I will root for them. Other than that, no way...”
Brining, who is a football season ticket holder at MSU, came up with the idea of bringing Wehner to the 2007 Michigan-Michigan State game at Spartan Stadium.
“I had been going to the games forever, so I decided to have some fun with it and decided to invite Brent,” he said.
Wehner, though, got the last laugh when the Wolverines pulled out a 28-24 victory.
“That’s been our only win in the three years we’ve gone,” Wehner said. “And I was very well behaved that day.”
Good thing, too, according to Brining.
“We have seats in the upper deck, so it’s a long ways down,” Brining joked. “We’re not out of control and most people are pretty good about it. We don’t go overboard.”
Wehner, who’s the host this year, is hoping Michigan can stop its skid to the Spartans this season. MSU has won two straight against Michigan — 35-21 in 2008 and 26-20 in overtime in 2009.
“Obviously, Michigan’s defense isn’t very good, but their offense can score against anybody,” Wehner said. “I think if we can score the temperature (editor’s note: It’s supposed to be 70 degrees at kickoff) I like our chances.”
Brining, meanwhile, is confident about his Spartans.
“State is a lot better than they have been in the last couple of years,” he said. “At Michigan, it will be tough, but I like their chances.”
Wehner predicts a high-scoring contest.
“I say 42-35, just like last week,” he said.
Brining has a little bigger spread in favor of the Green and White, and actually got in a dig to the Michigan kicking game, which has struggled this season.
“I like 31-20,” he said. “And that’s not with two field goals. That’s with missing an extra point.”
While there’s always time for good natured ‘rival ribbing,’ both Wehner and Brining respect each other’s programs.
“We congratulate each other when they win, but we’re not openly rooting for their teams,” Wehner said.
Saturday night’s ride home will not be a pleasant one for somebody. But come Sunday morning on the No. 1 tee, all will be forgotten.
Until next year!
“It will probably be a quiet ride home for one of us, but the next time we see each other it will be fine,” Brining said.
|Bad Axe’s Brent Wehner (left) and Mark Brining will attend the Michigan-Michigan State game together this afternoon. Guess which teams they are rooting for?|