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2006 - 2011...what a difference five years makes

  • You almost couldn’t write a better comeback story for Spartan football.

    Remember 2006…Coach Smith, and the failed experiment with a version of the spread offense are on the way out. The program is in a shambles after two failed coaches. The “Same Old Spartans” moniker is a nationally recognized meme associated with a team that consistently folds under pressure. Spartan fans have been trained to anticipate seasonal collapses in their W/L record after losing to their hated intrastate rival, the Wolverines in October of each year. The Wolverines will play the Buckeyes in the last game of the Big Ten season, they will be ranked #1, and #2 nationally.

    After initial excitement about the wide open offensive style associated with Coach Smith, many fans long for the days of “pound green pound”, and some ability to control the clock near the end of a game. In this world no matter how many points MSU is ahead no lead is considered safe, and fans have been conditioned to expect the worst. Spartan fans will complain publically that officiating is unfair after a loss, and privately they know in their hearts that the team has gone soft, unable to withstand the physical punishment dealt out by the top teams in the conference, and mentally unable to overcome even modest setbacks.

    • Enter Dantonio – MSU makes what now appears to be a brilliant hire in a man who understands the tough nature of the game, can develop players on both sides of the ball, the nature of the rivalry with UoM, and who has the unwavering support of the fans, the AD, the students, and the players. This coach personifies “grim determination” something that the program has not experienced in decades.
    • Enter Rodriguez – Almost inexplicably the Wolverines decided to run their own experiment with the spread offense, fumble through a coaching search, find a man who does not understand the political hornets’ nest he’s just stepped on, does not understand the traditional rivalries, and will attempt to put a spread offense in place in year one despite having almost none of the required talent.

    Here we are, a half decade later.

    Coach Dantonio has created the best defense in the big ten, complete with a very deep bench, NFL caliber talent, and a fearsome reputation for physical play. This value of this development is more than just keeping the opposing team off the board, it give the team a bedrock of mental toughness that allows them to stay in tight games, and rebound after tough loses. The recent death of Bubba Smith gave us all time to reflect and appreciate that a physical defense is a very valuable commodity and something that has been missing since the glory days of MSU football.
    MSU offense is not at this level, but has been productive and stable. Leadership provided by senior quarterbacks, always dangerous receivers, and improving running game, tied to an improving offensive line have provided just enough points to win on multiple occasions during the Dantonio era. Perhaps most exciting, the offense (and special teams) have provided multiple nationally recognized game turning plays…rocket, little giants, OT victory vs UoM. These late moment heroics fly in the face of “Same old Spartans”, and provide a favorably dangerous unpredictability to the coach and the program.

    In Ann Arbor the spread offense coaching experiment has come and gone. It’s once mighty defense is a shambles. September fireworks are consistently followed by a loss to the now hated intrastate rival Spartans in October, and dismal performance in conference play. Fans complain of dirty play and poor officiating, but know in their hearts that the team cannot withstand the physically punishing play of the best defenses in the conference, and that each season now hangs on the mental toughness of the team after their annual loss to Sparty. In short they are dangerously close to being us circa 2006.

    Where does all this go from here?....your guess is as good a mine. UoM may have hired a program saving coach in Hoke…he knows the territory, the rivalries, and the politics. Is he the next Bo?...probably not…is he the next Gary Moeller?...maybe.

    Coach D needs no advice from me…if he continues to perform at this level and stays at MSU he will achieve Izzo like status with the fans and students. They guy is exactly what the program needed, exactly when we needed it most.

    I’ll close with a story. My sons and I were at BW3’s a while ago and they were showing the 2005 UoM game. My 8 year old asked if this was the actual game, and I told him it was a replay, and that MSU would eventually loose. His face betrayed his confusion and he said “Wait…you mean Michigan used to be better than Michigan State?” I’ll let your Green and White imaginations fill in what happens if MSU continues to dominate this rivalry for a few more years.

  • Great stuff. The worst hangover from the Slappy "first to 40" mentality was the defense. The almost total disregard for building a solid defense was really his undoing. It really underscores what Dantonio has been able accomplish on that side of the line of scrimmage.

    ps. I love the story at the end. That really says a lot.

    This post was edited by Floyd Robertson 3 years ago

    Join Date: 06-12-2001 RCMB vBull #32 # Total Posts: 35,866

  • That story in the last paragraph is great. People (especially young recruits) have short memories. Nobody remembers that Wisconsin was a doormat for a century. They only remember that they've consistently won over the past several years. That's the road MSU is on. Keep winning and the painful memories of the past will be nothing but historical footnotes. MSU has all the tools to be a consistent winner. Thankfully, we finally have a coach who is utilizing these tools to the fullest extent and reviving a winning culture.

    signature image
  • 5 years is really the exact timetable for turning around a program the right way, graduating your first recruting class, Of course in the $ec you could turn a program around in 2 years with a little magic $$$.

  • ScottsBadLiver

    Agree. Love that last paragraph too. I just shake my head when the demand excellence crowd of the board piles on and trys to dump on the program. What an awesome 5 years it has been. Durring the JLS end days I wouldnt even watch them play...thats how bad it was...I just could not take it anymore..

    Not only is the football program in incedible shape but the admin is too.....credit really needs to go to the administration as well...finally , the Spartan Nation is in a good place. Enjoy this time while we have it

  • JLS was a square peg in a round hole and our defense was an abortion. But, he did leave plenty of offensive talent for Coach D, and that allowed us to win some games in '07 and '08. That early offensive output got us some wins and laid a foundation for the success that we have today.

    This post was edited by southernspartan 3 years ago

  • That 8 year old's quote hit home with me. I'm a relatively young'in and can't remember anything MSU basketball before Mateen set foot on campus. I can literally say that I have no mental conception of MSU being worse than UM in bball or, 1000x better, not being nationally relevant (even this year, with very little hype and coming off a 1st round exit, Vegas gave us like the 8th best odds to win the NCAA title). That has to be great for the people that were fans through the Fab 5 shit, KU/GA Tech screwjobs to know.

    It's awesome that we're looking at the same thing for MSU football now. I'm desperately hoping we're looking at the football equivalent of the 98-99 basketball team.

    God bless Izzo and Dantonio.

  • goState18

    ScottsBadLiver said... (original post)

    Agree. Love that last paragraph too. I just shake my head when the demand excellence crowd of the board piles on and trys to dump on the program. What an awesome 5 years it has been. Durring the JLS end days I wouldnt even watch them play...thats how bad it was...I just could not take it anymore..

    Not only is the football program in incedible shape but the admin is too.....credit really needs to go to the administration as well...finally , the Spartan Nation is in a good place. Enjoy this time while we have it

    I was an ardent member of the DE crowd during the JLS year because I knew THIS is what we were capable of. You know what? I'm happy with it too. We've been incredible over the last two years, but we can still be better. We can win bowl games, we can win outright B10 titles, we can go into the lions den of major B10 powerhouses and win, this is what I've always known the program could do, and it's capable of so much more. I'm glad the DE crowd didn't get complacent with JLS, I'm glad we weren't willing to sit through another year of JLS, because the Sunshine Blowers were all ready too tell us how good the 5th year of JLS was going to be. This is a DE victory.

  • goState18

    southernspartan said... (original post)

    JLS was a square peg in a round hole and our defense was an abortion. But, he did leave plenty of offensive talent for Coach D, and that allowed us to win some games in '07 and '08. That early offensive output got us some wins and layed a foundation for the success that we have today.

    Didn't hurt matters that Treadwell was an offensive genius for us. Narduzzi is proving himself as well. It's not just Dantonio, it's his staff.

  • ScottsBadLiver

    I was referring to the DE club in the MD era. The tail end of the JLS era was completely justifiable...

  • TrapperGus

    southernspartan said... (original post)

    JLS was a square peg in a round hole and our defense was an abortion. But, he did leave plenty of offensive talent for Coach D, and that allowed us to win some games in '07 and '08. That early offensive output got us some wins and laid a foundation for the success that we have today.

    Agree...the hate JLS guys have never ever given him credit for moving the program from train wreak status that Bobby left it in to just really poor status....they also forget the Green Mafia who (just like the Old Blues did to RR) cut JLS out of recuiting networks...

    LKS, Izzo & Hollis stopped that crap from happening with MD thank god and MD is a better fit than JLS, no question...LKS has done an outstanding job at MSU...

    Lurking on tRCMB since 1996

  • A man dressed in Spartan Green and White walks into an Ann Arbor sports bar with a small dog under his arm. He says to the bartender: "Hey, can I leave my dog here while I go to the MSU - U of M game?" "A dog in my bar? No." ... "But he's a special dog," the MSU fan says. "In what way?" The bartender asks. "Well," says the Spartan, he will watch the game on TV with you. When MSU scores, he will walk up and down the bar on his hind legs. When Michigan scores, he will walk up and down the bar on his front legs. When Michigan State wins, he will do back flips all the way down the bar and back." "Wow," the bartender says. "What does he do when Michigan wins?" "I don't know" says the Spartan. "He's only four years old."

  • Thanks much for all the upvotes!

    I've been pondering writting this post in the weeks following the UoM game, the suspension, and the perfect performance (penalty wise) against Wisky.

    I have come to realize that when MSU football is good, it coincides with times where the defense is recognized for being a hard hitting, punishing unit. I'm quoting someone else from this board, and their recognition of the Perles era. Paraphrasing "The coaches were almost as happy with a physically domininant defensive performance as they were with a win".

    Think about the MSU glory days of Bubba Smith & Co....a bunch of white middle class fans cheering "Kill Bubba Kill" in the early to mid sixties....you thing Will got it bad from the opposing fan base after the UoM game....imagine what they used to say about Bubba?

    We are happiest as fans when the defense is ferocious, the program is at it's best.

    I had those thoughts in my head as I read the article by Chait complaining about the poor sportsmanship of MSU players, and I thought to myself...this article could almost be a parody written by an MSU fan. The "mixed martial arts" move that turns out to be an uncalled holding penalty by UoM, the priceless story about the intramural football game where he gets a warning, ignores it, and gets pummeled as a result....the article itself perfectly captures the mentality of the Wolverine fan base. Right now our guys are bigger, faster, meaner, mentally tougher, and above all better coached, we know it, and each October they know it.

    P.S. The posters who have chimed in and pointed out that LKS, Hollis, and even Izzo deserve some credit here are dead on...the administration has executed almost flawlessly during the last five years.

  • RPMadMSU

    I want my kids to grow in world where MSU Football dominates the State of Michigan every fall.

    MSU is 4-1 v. Michigan since he was born, the one loss was "It will never be over...." MSU is 2-0 v. Michigan since my daughter was born.

    MSU has won 39 games since my son was born. 39 out of 59 total. MSU has, of course won 17 of 20 since my Daughter was born.

    signature image
  • doc_spartan said... (original post)

    You almost couldn’t write a better comeback story for Spartan football.

    Remember 2006…Coach Smith, and the failed experiment with a version of the spread offense are on the way out. The program is in a shambles after two failed coaches. The “Same Old Spartans” moniker is a nationally recognized meme associated with a team that consistently folds under pressure. Spartan fans have been trained to anticipate seasonal collapses in their W/L record after losing to their hated intrastate rival, the Wolverines in October of each year. The Wolverines will play the Buckeyes in the last game of the Big Ten season, they will be ranked #1, and #2 nationally.

    After initial excitement about the wide open offensive style associated with Coach Smith, many fans long for the days of “pound green pound”, and some ability to control the clock near the end of a game. In this world no matter how many points MSU is ahead no lead is considered safe, and fans have been conditioned to expect the worst. Spartan fans will complain publically that officiating is unfair after a loss, and privately they know in their hearts that the team has gone soft, unable to withstand the physical punishment dealt out by the top teams in the conference, and mentally unable to overcome even modest setbacks.

    • Enter Dantonio – MSU makes what now appears to be a brilliant hire in a man who understands the tough nature of the game, can develop players on both sides of the ball, the nature of the rivalry with UoM, and who has the unwavering support of the fans, the AD, the students, and the players. This coach personifies “grim determination” something that the program has not experienced in decades.
    • Enter Rodriguez – Almost inexplicably the Wolverines decided to run their own experiment with the spread offense, fumble through a coaching search, find a man who does not understand the political hornets’ nest he’s just stepped on, does not understand the traditional rivalries, and will attempt to put a spread offense in place in year one despite having almost none of the required talent.

    Here we are, a half decade later.

    Coach Dantonio has created the best defense in the big ten, complete with a very deep bench, NFL caliber talent, and a fearsome reputation for physical play. This value of this development is more than just keeping the opposing team off the board, it give the team a bedrock of mental toughness that allows them to stay in tight games, and rebound after tough loses. The recent death of Bubba Smith gave us all time to reflect and appreciate that a physical defense is a very valuable commodity and something that has been missing since the glory days of MSU football.
    MSU offense is not at this level, but has been productive and stable. Leadership provided by senior quarterbacks, always dangerous receivers, and improving running game, tied to an improving offensive line have provided just enough points to win on multiple occasions during the Dantonio era. Perhaps most exciting, the offense (and special teams) have provided multiple nationally recognized game turning plays…rocket, little giants, OT victory vs UoM. These late moment heroics fly in the face of “Same old Spartans”, and provide a favorably dangerous unpredictability to the coach and the program.

    In Ann Arbor the spread offense coaching experiment has come and gone. It’s once mighty defense is a shambles. September fireworks are consistently followed by a loss to the now hated intrastate rival Spartans in October, and dismal performance in conference play. Fans complain of dirty play and poor officiating, but know in their hearts that the team cannot withstand the physically punishing play of the best defenses in the conference, and that each season now hangs on the mental toughness of the team after their annual loss to Sparty. In short they are dangerously close to being us circa 2006.

    Where does all this go from here?....your guess is as good a mine. UoM may have hired a program saving coach in Hoke…he knows the territory, the rivalries, and the politics. Is he the next Bo?...probably not…is he the next Gary Moeller?...maybe.

    Coach D needs no advice from me…if he continues to perform at this level and stays at MSU he will achieve Izzo like status with the fans and students. They guy is exactly what the program needed, exactly when we needed it most.

    I’ll close with a story. My sons and I were at BW3’s a while ago and they were showing the 2005 UoM game. My 8 year old asked if this was the actual game, and I told him it was a replay, and that MSU would eventually loose. His face betrayed his confusion and he said “Wait…you mean Michigan used to be better than Michigan State?” I’ll let your Green and White imaginations fill in what happens if MSU continues to dominate this rivalry for a few more years.

    This is an article that should be written by Wojo, Album or Lynn Henning. But of course, never will be. Perhaps you could forward it to them and it maybe it would appear as a comment piece somewhere in the sports page.

    Kudos to you Doc... I loved it!

  • RPMadMSU said... (original post)

    I want my kids to grow in world where MSU Football dominates the State of Michigan every fall.

    MSU is 4-1 v. Michigan since he was born, the one loss was "It will never be over...." MSU is 2-0 v. Michigan since my daughter was born.

    MSU has won 39 games since my son was born. 39 out of 59 total. MSU has, of course won 17 of 20 since my Daughter was born.

    That cannot be stressed enough: MSU is 17-3 in their last 20 games including wins over Notre Dame, Penn State, Wisconsin (twice), Ohio State, and Michigan (twice). There are a lot of good programs that are not close to 17-3 over their last twenty games. This program is arguably in as good a shape as it has been in, in nearly 40 to 50 years. To me the most positive sign is the stability, there's no sign that this program will fall back and become a consistent loser. Dantonio and his coaches have proven that if given time they can take players of most talent levels and create a solid, aggressive team that will play winning football, beat most of the teams they should beat, get solid talent into EL and play hard. The OP is right, what a difference five years can make... coachdspartan2

  • Pylon St8ofmind

    goState18 said... (original post)

    I was an ardent member of the DE crowd during the JLS year because I knew THIS is what we were capable of. You know what? I'm happy with it too. We've been incredible over the last two years, but we can still be better. We can win bowl games, we can win outright B10 titles, we can go into the lions den of major B10 powerhouses and win, this is what I've always known the program could do, and it's capable of so much more. I'm glad the DE crowd didn't get complacent with JLS, I'm glad we weren't willing to sit through another year of JLS, because the Sunshine Blowers were all ready too tell us how good the 5th year of JLS was going to be. This is a DE victory.

    This is how I feel as well.

    Midas the chest thumping.

    This post was edited by Pylon St8ofmind 3 years ago

    Marriage is like flying with kids, if the flight had 500 connections, never ended, Ted Striker were your pilot and you ate the fish.

  • Story about your kid was really cool.

    signature image
  • Going off the OP, I'll never forget senior day in 2006. Of course the team took a nose dive after the ND game, yet the team was still in bowl contention by the last 2 games, and Minnesota was in town.

    I recall it being ridiculously cold, rainy, and windy day. The tailgate by tha point in the season was diluted down to a mere 100 to 200 students at the tennis courts. There was nobody there, and to think just less than 2 months prior to that was the ND tailgate, which was amazing.

    On to the game; with the team still in bowl contention, on senior day no less, we got blown out by Minnesota. I think a meaningless late TD made the score look respectable, but it was evidently clear the team quit, the fans quit ( SS wasn't even a quarter full by the end of the game) and the team was just begging to get to the offseason.

    For whatever reason I stayed until the bitter end, and just looked around to see the countless empty seats, the tiny Minnesota crowd there (which was louder than any section at SS that entire game), and the shell of a program that can be capable of so much more.

    When Coach D was hired, I really had no expectations from him. He was energetic, and very enthusiastic about a program that had little reason to have any. I recall him walking around Breslin, shaking hands and taking pictures with the izzone during halftimes of games. Somehow I thought he would be better than JLS, but at the time I never imagined the heights MSU football has achieved since then.

    What's even more encouraging is I believe we havent peaked yet as a program. Coach D has instilled an attitude that the previous regime either didn't stress, or had the talent to do so. I'm glad the administration, Coach Izzo, and Spartan nation can rally behind this program, and give us Saturdays in the fall unforgettable ones.

  • MIST said... (original post)

    Going off the OP, I'll never forget senior day in 2006. Of course the team took a nose dive after the ND game, yet the team was still in bowl contention by the last 2 games, and Minnesota was in town.

    I recall it being ridiculously cold, rainy, and windy day. The tailgate by tha point in the season was diluted down to a mere 100 to 200 students at the tennis courts. There was nobody there, and to think just less than 2 months prior to that was the ND tailgate, which was amazing.

    On to the game; with the team still in bowl contention, on senior day no less, we got blown out by Minnesota. I think a meaningless late TD made the score look respectable, but it was evidently clear the team quit, the fans quit ( SS wasn't even a quarter full by the end of the game) and the team was just begging to get to the offseason.

    For whatever reason I stayed until the bitter end, and just looked around to see the countless empty seats, the tiny Minnesota crowd there (which was louder than any section at SS that entire game), and the shell of a program that can be capable of so much more.

    When Coach D was hired, I really had no expectations from him. He was energetic, and very enthusiastic about a program that had little reason to have any. I recall him walking around Breslin, shaking hands and taking pictures with the izzone during halftimes of games. Somehow I thought he would be better than JLS, but at the time I never imagined the heights MSU football has achieved since then.

    What's even more encouraging is I believe we havent peaked yet as a program. Coach D has instilled an attitude that the previous regime either didn't stress, or had the talent to do so. I'm glad the administration, Coach Izzo, and Spartan nation can rally behind this program, and give us Saturdays in the fall unforgettable ones.

    I was at that Minny game and it was one of the most depressing football games I've ever attended. As the last game as a student, it was even worse. I am so jealous of students now who don't know how good they have it.

    "If they want to mock us, I'm telling them it's not over. It will never be over here. It's just starting." - Mark Dantonio, 2007

  • Epic. I've been thinking similar things since we beat Isuzu. We couldn't be counted on to beat NW or Illinois just a few years ago... it is amazing.

    signature image signature image
  • Just because I don't feel like working right now I looked up the last time the B1G teams won 17 games in a 20 game span:
    Wisky - current
    Penn State - 2008-09
    tO$U - 2005-06 (not counting 2010 forfeits)
    Iowa - 2001-03
    Nebraska - 2000-01
    scum - 1998-99
    Northwestern - 1995-96
    Purdue - 1966-68
    Illinois - 1950-52
    Minny - roflmao
    Indiana - roflmao

    Rather impressive.

  • MIST said... (original post)

    Going off the OP, I'll never forget senior day in 2006. Of course the team took a nose dive after the ND game, yet the team was still in bowl contention by the last 2 games, and Minnesota was in town.

    I recall it being ridiculously cold, rainy, and windy day. The tailgate by tha point in the season was diluted down to a mere 100 to 200 students at the tennis courts. There was nobody there, and to think just less than 2 months prior to that was the ND tailgate, which was amazing.

    On to the game; with the team still in bowl contention, on senior day no less, we got blown out by Minnesota. I think a meaningless late TD made the score look respectable, but it was evidently clear the team quit, the fans quit ( SS wasn't even a quarter full by the end of the game) and the team was just begging to get to the offseason.

    For whatever reason I stayed until the bitter end, and just looked around to see the countless empty seats, the tiny Minnesota crowd there (which was louder than any section at SS that entire game), and the shell of a program that can be capable of so much more.

    When Coach D was hired, I really had no expectations from him. He was energetic, and very enthusiastic about a program that had little reason to have any. I recall him walking around Breslin, shaking hands and taking pictures with the izzone during halftimes of games. Somehow I thought he would be better than JLS, but at the time I never imagined the heights MSU football has achieved since then.

    What's even more encouraging is I believe we havent peaked yet as a program. Coach D has instilled an attitude that the previous regime either didn't stress, or had the talent to do so. I'm glad the administration, Coach Izzo, and Spartan nation can rally behind this program, and give us Saturdays in the fall unforgettable ones.

    Also remember going to that game. As a student I would normally get up early to tailgate, before getting in line a few hours before kickoff. For that game, the indifference was palpable. We staggered in a bit after kickoff and were still able to get seats about 25-30 rows from the field in the student section. Just completely embarrassing the depths the program reached after that ND game. The "sea of scarlet" in SS against OSU, the flag plant debacle against Illinois, getting destroyed by Indiana, losing to Minnesota on Senior day. I felt so bad for the Seniors on that day, playing their final game in front of an at best half full stadium. Dantonio has fulfilled even my most wild expectations and the future is bright. I hope we never again reach the depths we did that day in November.

    signature image signature image signature image
  • MIST said... (original post)

    Going off the OP, I'll never forget senior day in 2006. Of course the team took a nose dive after the ND game, yet the team was still in bowl contention by the last 2 games, and Minnesota was in town.

    I recall it being ridiculously cold, rainy, and windy day. The tailgate by tha point in the season was diluted down to a mere 100 to 200 students at the tennis courts. There was nobody there, and to think just less than 2 months prior to that was the ND tailgate, which was amazing.

    On to the game; with the team still in bowl contention, on senior day no less, we got blown out by Minnesota. I think a meaningless late TD made the score look respectable, but it was evidently clear the team quit, the fans quit ( SS wasn't even a quarter full by the end of the game) and the team was just begging to get to the offseason.

    For whatever reason I stayed until the bitter end, and just looked around to see the countless empty seats, the tiny Minnesota crowd there (which was louder than any section at SS that entire game), and the shell of a program that can be capable of so much more.

    When Coach D was hired, I really had no expectations from him. He was energetic, and very enthusiastic about a program that had little reason to have any. I recall him walking around Breslin, shaking hands and taking pictures with the izzone during halftimes of games. Somehow I thought he would be better than JLS, but at the time I never imagined the heights MSU football has achieved since then.

    What's even more encouraging is I believe we havent peaked yet as a program. Coach D has instilled an attitude that the previous regime either didn't stress, or had the talent to do so. I'm glad the administration, Coach Izzo, and Spartan nation can rally behind this program, and give us Saturdays in the fall unforgettable ones.

    Knock on wood, but the weather for every home game has been pretty amazing this year.

    signature image
  • Bender

    Welcome to the glory years of the late 50's thru 60's folks...

    EXCEPT...

    This Head Coach is BETTER, the assistants are BETTER, the recruits are good and getting BETTER...

    the ceiling is MUCH, MUCH higher for this team and this Coaching staff.

    Dantonio has already reached 'legend' status with his wins. It is only going to get BETTER! The B1G needs to understand that there is a new (old ) Boss in town!!!

    Nίκη για MSU

  • Thanks for the post as it shows the impressive transformation that has taken place under Mark Dantonio.

    One of my favorites movies is "The Untouchables" with Sean Connery and Kevin Costner. Early in the movie Connery's character decides to take Ness on his first raid. The team that was assembled walks across the street to a building where Capone houses a part of his booze running operation. Just before they enter the room where the illegal activity is taking place Connery's character says to Ness, "If you walk through this door now, you're walking into a world of trouble. There's no turning back. Do you understand?"

    To me, it's that same attitude that characterizes Mark Dantonio and his staff. Once Dantonio took this job he knew he was going to face a great deal of adversity just to make MSU competitive. Many scoffed at what they believed would be a feeble attempt to resurrect a downtrodden and demoralized program and fan base. It hasn't always been easy, and even with a few setbacks his teams are continually striving to improve.

    The media both locally and nationally don't know what to make of Dantonio's teams. Yes the lopsided losses to Iowa and Alabama cast a poor image, but that team wasn't a finished product. They still had too many questionable players in starting rolls. This year it's the youth that hurt MSU early in the season, but as the season has progressed those youthful, talented newcomers are starting to develop into the high performance caliber athletes that Dantonio and this staff demand.

    Nebraska came into this league and was all but handed the Legends division based solely on reputation. They very well might win it still, but it not in the cake walk that many media pundits predicted. Nebraska is not the team they were when they were vying for national championships on an annual basis. Nor is MSU the inept team that has characterized this program for more than forty years. It's 2011, and the only thing that matters is what happens on game day. Come Saturday I expect a hard fought game with the winner having earned the victory, and I believe that victor will be MSU.