October 20, 2009

Dantonio likes the 'scratch' his team has shown

EAST LANSING - Michigan State has not played a team ahead of them in the Big Ten standings since matching up with Ohio State and Penn State a year ago. The Spartans came up far short of the Big Ten's two BCS bowl representatives in games that were measuring sticks for the MSU during Mark Dantonio's second year as head coach in East Lansing.

Michigan State will get another shot at a conference frontrunner this weekend as undefeated Iowa traveling to East Lansing for a primetime game with first-place in the Big Ten on the line. With so much riding on the outcome of Saturday's showdown, Michigan State naysayers are predicting a similar result for the Spartans as decisive loss against Penn State and Ohio State last year.

Dantonio understands why some might questions whether his team is ready to face a contender after coming up short last year, but the third-year Spartan coach is quick to point out that this year's team is battle-tested and has already proven their ability to handle adversity.

"Obviously, it's a game of mistakes against Ohio State," explained Dantonio. "We had too many turnovers. Against Penn State, we couldn't get off the field and couldn't run the ball. Both of those cases were a little different than now. The (Penn State) game had us playing for a Big Ten championship at the end of the season. And the other one was a national media game against Ohio State. (Against Penn State) we had won six straight. This is a little different; we have a little bit more scratch to us. We've been down this year and rallied."

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