Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins never lost a Michigan-Michigan State rivalry game

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Kirk Cousins is singularly focused this week on finding a way to lead the Vikings to an upset win over the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football. He knows the primetime game at U.S. Bank Stadium is an opportunity to continue the turnaround as the Vikings look to get themselves back into the playoff race.

That said, Cousins will likely have a close eye on the television on Saturday when his alma mater Michigan State hosts Michigan at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Mich. The winner of the rivalry matchup gets the Paul Bunyan Trophy, and more importantly, bragging rights until the next time the teams played each other.

Asked for some of his memories, Cousins, without hesitation, referenced something longtime Spartans football coach Mark Dantonio always used to remind his teams before they played their biggest rivals: “When you win that game, you walk the streets. When you lose that game, you walk the alleys.”

As the starting quarterback at Michigan State from 2009-11, Cousins never lost to Michigan. After growing up in Holland, Mich., not too far from East Lansing and Ann Arbor, he went a perfect 3-0 for the Spartans in games against the Wolverines. He still takes a lot of pride in that.

“For the rest of my life I’ll be walking the streets in my hometown,” Cousins said. “I’m not going to be walking the alleys.”

The fact that Cousins will forever go down among the most successful quarterbacks to compete in the rivalry matchup is surprising given his backstory. He went most of his time at Holland Christian High School without a scholarship offer. He then redshirted when he got to Michigan State before having to compete for the job with a highly touted transfer named Keith Nichol.

All things considered, Cousins wasn’t necessarily supposed to be the guy that led the Spartans past the Wolverines. Nonetheless, whenever Cousins lined up under center in the rivalry matchup, he made sure he walked off the field with the Paul Bunyan Trophy still in his possession.

“It’s very personal,” Cousins said. “You grow up in the state and it means a lot.”

As a sophomore, he posted a modest stat line, finishing 15 of 21 passing for 152 yards in a 26-20 win. As a junior, he played a much more efficient game, finishing 18 of 25 for 284 yards and a touchdown in a 34-17 win. As a senior, he was good when he had to be, completing 13 of 24 passes for 120 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 28-14 win.

“We won all three,” Cousins said. “I played in three of them; I won three of them.”

That’s good news for Cousins considering he plans to spend a lot of time in his hometown when he retires. He knows where he’ll be walking when that time comes.

“Come to Holland in about 2030,” Cousins said with a smile. “You’ll see me on 8th Street with my green and white on.”

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