Spartans trying for historic win
The Sports Xchange
NCAAF Team Report - Michigan State - INSIDE SLANT
Before his arrival, a successful season was one that ended in a bowl game -- any bowl game. Thoughts of returning to the Rose Bowl were fine, but in most seasons, it wasn't realistic.
All that has changed in the last seven seasons. The Spartans have been to a bowl game in every one of those seasons, have won 11 games three times, won a share of a Big Ten championship in 2010 and have captured two Legends Division titles in three seasons.
And now Michigan State has a chance to play its way into that elusive Rose Bowl once again. For the second time in three seasons, the Spartans are in the Big Ten Championship game, this time facing Ohio State for the right play in Pasadena.
The game two years ago against Wisconsin was big, but this one might be even bigger.
"I haven't thought about that too much," Dantonio said on Sunday afternoon, "but it's an opportunity to go to a Rose Bowl and win an outright Big Ten championship which we have not done yet, done outright, so I would say it's got to be pretty high up there."
There have certainly been plenty of big games at Michigan State, the Dantonio era included. In that time, the Spartans have beaten Michigan five times in six seasons, beaten every Big Ten opponent at least once and have 35 Big Ten victories since 2008, officially more than any other team.
But considering that in the 16-year history of the Bowl Championship Series the Spartans have never qualified for one of the BCS bowl games, getting that done against an Ohio State team that hasn't lost a game in two seasons would make this Saturday's game one of the biggest in program history.
And, of course, there's the fact Michigan State hasn't played in a Rose Bowl since after the 1987 season.
"It is an important game for the history of who we are right now," Dantonio said. "We've pointed at things like this since coming here in 2007. I think every program, regardless of who the head coach is, as they move through their program they establish an era of winning or losing whatever it is. It goes with it.
"Right now one of the things we have done, for us is we have been relatively impressive, but we are not there yet. I keep saying that. We are not there yet. We still have things to do. So we are looking forward to the opportunity. We look forward to play against Ohio State. I consider them a great program, a great tradition."
NCAAF Team Report - Michigan State - NOTES, QUOTES
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--LB Denicos Allen has had some of his best games against Ohio State and will be a key in this matchup against quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde. Allen and his teammates terrorized Miller two years ago, but last season, Miller had the upper hand. Allen will have a chance to get the final word in this matchup and could be a big factor in putting pressure on Miller and forcing him into quick decisions.
--QB Connor Cook earned second-team All-Big Ten honors as he has steadily improved all season after not starting the opener. Ohio State's pass defense has struggled this season and Cook has a chance to have a big day if the offensive line can hold up against a solid Ohio State defensive front.
--WR Aaron Burbridge has slowly worked his way back onto the field after a hamstring injury a few weeks ago sidelined him for a couple of weeks. The season has been a bit of a disappointment for Burbridge, who was expected to have a breakout season. The matchup with Ohio State could be his chance to finally have a breakout performance in on a big stage.