MSU Football Team Needs To Channel Anger Over Michigan Loss

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan State still has a shot to make a bowl game.
But the Spartans will have to channel their anger over a bitter loss to Michigan and may have to win their last two games to secure their first postseason appearance since 2003.
Michigan State (5-5, 1-5 Big Ten) has lost five of six after starting the season with four straight victories. All of the Spartans' losses have been by seven points or less, but the toughest to take was Saturday's 28-24 home loss to Michigan.
The Spartans aren't happy about how they lost a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter or how the No. 13 Wolverines (8-2, 6-0) conducted themselves afterward.
"They need to check themselves sometimes," first-year Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said Monday when asked about the Wolverines' postgame behavior. "Just remember, pride comes before the fall."
Especially irritating from the Spartans' point of view were comments from Michigan running back Mike Hart, who likened Michigan State to a "little brother" who the big brother lets get ahead before beating him. Michigan has a 67-28-5 record in the rivalry and has won six in a row, including Saturday's come-from-behind win at Spartan Stadium.
"Does Hart have a little brother? Or is he the little brother?" Dantonio said when asked about the comments. Dantonio then held out his hand to indicate Hart's height, which is listed at 5-foot-9 by the Wolverines.
Dantonio had said he wouldn't comment on Hart's statement, then said he couldn't help himself. He also emphasized that the Michigan rivalry will always be a focal point for Michigan State.
"You don't have to disrespect people," said Dantonio, whose impressions of Michigan were formed as an assistant both with the Spartans and Ohio State. "We'll come to play. We don't have to be disrespected, we don't have to disrespect people. But if they want to make a mockery of it, so be it. The time will come."
Michigan State quarterback Brian Hoyer said Hart's comments will be bulletin board material.
"Sooner or later, the little brother ... fights back and kicks the other brother's (butt)," Hoyer said. "You know, I'll look forward for the next 364 days to that game because it just shows the arrogance that they have. We don't take that lightly. That's something we take personal."
Hart didn't back down from his comments Monday. But he did hint that Michigan coach Lloyd Carr might have been less than thrilled with his choice of words.
"Obviously, he tells me when I say something stupid. "It's not like I don't get yelled at," Hart said Monday, adding, "I don't think it was stupid, but obviously it's not something he (Carr) agrees with."
Michigan moves on with a perfect Big Ten record and a chance to win the conference title. But the next challenge for Michigan State is to harness its frustration and focus on the next two games to get a bowl bid.
The Spartans travel to Purdue (7-3, 3-3) on Saturday and close the season hosting Penn State. One victory technically would make Michigan State bowl eligible, but it might take two wins to secure a bid.
The Big Ten has a logjam of teams that may wind up with at least six victories and there may not be enough bids to go around for all of them. Seven conference teams already are eligible for bowls, and three more -- including Michigan State -- have a shot at gaining eligibility.
"I can't wait to get back out and play," Hoyer said. "We've just got to take that and channel that and use it to our advantage."
Said Dantonio: "I hope we play like an angry football team."


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