EAST LANSING, Mich. — Brothers Trishton and Obbie Jackson started talking trash about the Michigan State-Western Michigan matchup in early summer.
Trishton, a Michigan State sophomore wide receiver, naturally went on the offensive against Obbie, a Western Michigan sophomore cornerback. He said he was faster than his older brother.
“That’s what started everything, the conversations about this game,” Obbie told Land of 10. “I don’t know what he was thinking when he told me that. I just kind of laughed it off.”
They didn’t run a 40-yard dash to settle it. (“He knows I would win,” Obbie contended.)
Instead, the verbal jousting accelerated. It’s reached a fever pitch during game week, with both sides warning the other: We’re coming, so be ready.
This isn’t your average matchup on Saturday. Trishton and Obbie won’t just be on opposite sides of the field — they’ll be lining up across from each other. And it’s not because they have to, but because their competitive urges require it.
“I want to score on him,” Trishton said.
“I just want to lock him up,” Obbie responded. “I really want to catch a pick on him, too.”
These little battles have been going on for as long as they can both remember. Basketball, football, track, video games — anything that required competition, Trishton and Obbie would go at it.
Even boxing. Their father, “Big Obbie,” would set up pads so they could practice on trees in the yard. Seldom would they go against each other because Obbie had the advantage. When he was 7 and Trishton was 6, Obbie’s cousins tied his right arm behind his back, and then the two of them sparred.
“I remember giving him a bloody nose and a bloody lip with that left hand,” Obbie laughed. “I was really good at it at that time.”
On the basketball court, Trishton contended that he had the clear edge. At 6-foot-1, he stood 2 inches taller. Obbie still argued that their one-on-one battles would be a toss-up. Trishton had the natural scoring ability while Obbie could lock down on defense.
It’s clearly carried over. Trishton had 3 catches for 41 yards in the Spartans’ opener, then tuned in to watch Obbie record 3 tackles against Southern Cal. They know each other as well as anyone, but that hasn’t stopped them from scouting as if they don’t.
“I watched him for an hour today just to get the little stuff that he does that I don’t know,” Trishton said on Tuesday. “I know him like the back of my hand, too.”
It’s only the second game of the season, but it feels like a finale: “Everything’s on the table for this game,” Trishton said.
The Jacksons, who graduated from West Bloomfield (Mich.) High School near Detroit, will have family coming in from as far as Florida to see the brothers face off at Spartan Stadium.
Big Obbie will sit on Western Michigan’s side, while Trishton and Obbie’s mother, Carol, will be on Michigan State’s side. According to the Detroit Free Press, she will have the front of a WMU jersey stitched to the back of an MSU jersey.
“I usually am hollering and screaming and I’m so excited,” Carol told the Free Press. “But I don’t know what to do. I’m at a loss for words this weekend. Everybody is asking me, ‘What are you gonna do?’ I don’t know. This is gonna be a quiet game for me.”
It won’t be quiet for Trishton and Obbie. They’ll be chattering all game, telling the other that he’s soft. And it will continue afterward with no pity from whoever comes out on top. Just like it’s always been.
“There’s been times where it’s gotten pretty heated,” Obbie said. “Most of the time we shake it off. That’s my brother at the end of the day, so we try not to go too far.”
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