Spartans Enjoy Victory in Ann Arbor

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Mark Dantonio enjoyed Michigan State's win at Michigan as much as anyone could last Saturday.
A 35-21 comeback triumph in a stadium where the Spartans hadn't won in 18 years was particularly satisfying for the second-year coach.
But Dantonio realizes that his 7-2 football team, with a 4-1 Big Ten mark and ranked No. 22 in the latest Associated Press poll, has other opportunities this season. That begins with a visit from Wisconsin (4-4, 1-4) at noon this Saturday.
"That game is over," Dantonio said of his program's first win over the Wolverines in seven years. "We need to move forward and focus on the present."
As a former defensive coordinator under Nick Saban in 1999, Dantonio saw the Spartans climb to 6-0 with a 34-31 win over the Wolverines, only to lose by 24 points at Purdue and by 30 at Wisconsin the next two weeks.
Nine years later, Michigan State will face the same two teams in reverse order and will get both of them in Spartan Stadium.
If Dantonio didn't want to dwell on the fact that Michigan State is 1-4 the week after beating Michigan over the past two decades, he didn't shrink from the idea that the Spartans control their destiny for a possible Rose Bowl appearance.
"We certainly talk about it," Dantonio said of a New Year's Day game. "We talk about every aspect of our program every week. If you don't talk about things of that nature, you're selling your program short."
If Michigan State can take care of business the next two weeks, it can play for no worse than a share of the Big Ten title and a trip to Pasadena in its final regular-season game at Penn State.
"All the goals we talk about in winter conditioning, when we raise our hands up and say 'Big Ten Champions,' or that we talk about in spring football or summer conditioning are still there," Dantonio said. "They're still attainable for this football team. And that's what's exciting right now."
Dantonio has talked about changing the culture of the Spartan program as much as changing any aspect of play. He has succeeded in making Michigan State competitive and has won 14 times in 22 games, one more victory than Biggie Munn produced and two more than Duffy Daugherty had in their first two years at the program's helm.
"Since we've been here, we've been in every football game except one," Dantonio said of a 45-7 loss to Ohio State earlier this month. "We lost that game because we couldn't tackle and turned the ball over. The next thing you knew, we were down 21-0."
With three more wins, Michigan State can reach double-digit victories for just the third time in school history.
Also Tuesday, Dantonio was upset with recent media coverage that has speculated on possible participants in an off-the-field fight that left Michigan State hockey player A.J. Sturges injured earlier this month.
Dantonio has said that the football program is cooperating with an ongoing investigation into the incident. He has not named players who may have been involved and no charges have yet been filed in the case by the Ingham County prosecutor's office.
Dantonio cited media reports that he said wrongly implicated some players in the incident.
"Today's focus is protecting the troops first," Dantonio said. "I'm not going to throw them under the bus when nothing has been substantiated."

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