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MSU vs. Notre Dame is the Biggest Game of Dantonio Head Coaching Career at MSU


Saturday's matchup with the Irish is the biggest of Mark Dantonio's head coaching career at MSU.  Photo courtesy of Starr Portice.

Saturday's matchup with the Irish is the biggest of Mark Dantonio's head coaching career at MSU. Photo courtesy of Starr Portice.

Saturday’s game against the Fighting Irish is arguably the biggest game of the Mark Dantonio era. First year Irish coach Brian Kelly played Michigan to the wire last week and probably would have won if he could have kept Crist (ND starting QB) in the game. Without Crist, Notre Dame couldn’t move the ball and Denard Robinson and the Wolverine offense wore them down. Notre Dame will be hungry for a win in Spartan Stadium. Brian Kelly will be out to prove MSU should have selected him instead of Mark Dantonio.


The MSU fan base has been restless the last two weekends. I largely think it is due to Wolverine anxiety. The media has anointed U-M the power of old and their two wins over quality opponents have trumped the Spartan’s headlines. MSU fans want a big win this weekend. I think that Michigan State is poised to put one on the Irish. I really think that it will be a lopsided score in favor of the Spartans.


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This MSU coaching staff knows how big this weekend’s game is to MSU fans. If Michigan State wins convincingly, it will silence the Dantonio doubters. As ‘vanilla’ as MSU’s play calling has been the last two weeks, they have yet to reveal anything. MSU fans are full of anxiety. The message boards are cluttered with posters questioning the team’s lack of dominance the over WMU and FAU. As for myself, I believe the best poker players are the ones who lure their opponents into bad decisions. I’ll just leave it at that.


If the Spartans drop Saturday night’s game to the Irish, the cardiac Spartan fan base will start to turn up the heat. The Detroit media will be ready to pounce. The Wal-Mart Wolverines will fully emerge from their two-year hibernation and sports talk radio will be ablaze with talk surrounding ‘same ‘ol Spartans.’ Those of us, who have studied this rebuilding process closely, know that it is ridiculous. However ridiculous, Spartan fans want a win over Notre Dame to justify their patience.


The reality is that neither Michigan nor Notre Dame is very good. Michigan State has probably reached 50% of their potential over the first two weeks. Like every Spartan fan, I am ready to see what we’ve got in the hopper. I just know that it is not the Dantonio way to run up the score and embarrass anyone. I’m not sure he’d even do it to Michigan if he had the chance. Howard Schnellenberger thanked Mark Dantonio last weekend for not running up the score. Howard knew that as close as the game was during some key stretches, MSU pulled nothing out of the arsenal to show any of our opponents on the upcoming schedule. You suppose ol’ Howard knew something after watching the Spartans that the average fan might not have noticed? After watching the first two games, I have yet to see anything that I haven’t already seen the previous three seasons. 

 Nobody can dispute the need for a win over Notre Dame. It has recruiting implications. It is our biggest rivalry outside of Michigan and last season’s loss still hurts. It is Dantonio’s fourth season and fans have the right to expect a winner. Spartan fans have been patient and deserve a winner. It takes a long time to overcome forty years of mediocrity. We are inching ahead. The culture has changed on the field. It is now time for the culture to change in the stands. 

Michigan State is on the verge of a break out season. The conference is loaded with good teams this year. We will know a lot more about our team this weekend. As I said earlier, I expect a lopsided victory in favor of MSU. Lopsided victories under the Mark Dantonio regime tend to be two-touchdown victories. Make it MSU 37, ND 20