Game On

This is personal. Like it always is, like it should be.

This is hanging in the football office at Michigan State.
"You might as well just come out and say what you're feeling at some point in time, because I can only be diplomatic for so long," Dantonio continued. "The little brother stuff, all the disrespect, it doesn't have to go in that direction. We've tried to handle ourself with composure. That doesn't come from the coach. It comes from the program. And throwing the stake down in our backyard out here, and coming out there like they're all that, it got … shoved, the last minute and a half. We were not gonna pull off of that."

Mark Dantonio, October 25, 2014, following Michigan State's 35-11 win against Michigan.
The "shove" in question was Jeremy Langford's touchdown in the final moments of the game. Which was in response to Joe Bolden driving a tent stake into the Spartan turf before during pregame.

On the broadcast, after the Langford score Chris Spielman added:
"It's personal. It's not his (Dantonio's) job to stop Michigan State, it's Michigan's job to stop Michigan State. He's sending a message to his team."
That message is the same message he's been sending year in and year out since he took the job in East Lansing in 2007. Mark Dantonio doesn't just want to win when he plays Michigan, he wants to beat Michigan. And when he does, he let's you know about it (see above image). No other active coach in the league has had more success against the Wolverines than he has.

I've been actively against the "little brother" nonsense for a while now. When you win 7 out of the last 8 meetings, that label no longer applies. Let's face it, from 2008-2015 Michigan State assumed the position Michigan used to be in. We stayed home as Michigan State went to Big Ten Championship games and Rose Bowls. 

And even last year, when it appeared Michigan was finally going to right the ship, the most incredible and improbable victory was gifted to the Spartans from the College Football Gods. It was maybe the worst gut punch Michigan fans had ever endured...and we've had a few. Appy State and Toledo and Colorado are one thing, but this was Michigan State...our very own bitter in-state rival.

They've had Michigan's number since Lloyd Carr stepped down in 2007. While Michigan went and essentially sanctioned themselves for 7 years, Michigan State has thrived by playing just tougher football than Michigan has. But now, at least on paper, things have shifted dramatically in Michigan's favor.

In that 2014 game, Michigan traveled up to East Lansing as a 17-point underdog. Tomorrow, they're 24-point favorites.

A forty-one point swing in two seasons is...quite something. Especially when you consider that the media has fallen all over themselves to praise Mark Dantonio for bringing Michigan State to the big kids' table...for making the Spartans a national power. That all seems like a distant memory with MSU sitting at 2-5 riding a 5-game losing streak...their longest such streak since 1991.

And the numbers don't lie.

Michigan State has the 106th ranked scoring offense in the country, averaging just 23.1 points per game. Michigan's defense, on the other hand, ranks 1st...allowing just 10 points per game. On the flipside, Michigan's offense averages 48.7 points per game, while Michigan State allows an average of 29.7 points per game.

Other troubling stats for the Spartans...

On 3rd down, opposing offenses make a first down 46% of the time...109th nationally.
Their turnover margin is -0.57 per game...106th nationally.
They average 1 sack per game...119th nationally.
They allow 2.29 sacks per game...78th nationally.
They average 4.6 tackles for loss per game...114th nationally.

In those same 5 categories, Michigan ranks 1st, 9th, 4th, 29th and 3rd.

But in my mind, none of those numbers seem to matter. It's still Michigan State, it's still Mark Dantonio who thrives on being the underdog, and those things matter more than just numbers on a stat sheet.

This is personal. Like it always is, like it should be.

Anyone who doesn't think the entire Michigan program hasn't replayed those final 10 seconds from last year's game over and over in their heads every day for the last year are simply insane. Anyone who doesn't think these players haven't remembered 2013 and 2014 are insane. Those losses hurt. And this team is on a mission to enact revenge. Most people expect Michigan to overwhelm the Spartans tomorrow...and that includes a lot of Michigan State fans.

A 24-point this game? Seems like a typo, but you look at the trajectory of these programs and it completely makes sense.

Regardless of the spread, NO WAY Michigan is looking past Michigan State just because of their 2-5 record. Records are meaningless. This isn't about being overconfident. This is about revenge. This is about the last 8 years. Who cares what the final score is...I'm sitting here wondering if Michigan State will even have net positive rushing yards or enough first downs to count on two hands.

If Michigan shows up...against this Michigan State team, I think it'll be a sight to see, I mean a sight to see.

This isn't just another game. This is everything.

Game on.

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