Big Ten Notebook: Spartans ready to bounce back in rivalry game

BY TORK MASON | OCTOBER 17, 2012 6:30 AM

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Saturday marks the 105th meeting between Michigan and Michigan State. Spartan head coach Mark Dantonio said this week is a chance for his team to have fun but also stressed that players need to be focused.

Dantonio said playing the Wolverines after a tough loss at home is good for the players. He said it brings up the intensity and level of focus on the team.

“The timing is good. I think it’s a little bit of a release after last Saturday,” Dantonio said. “We don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves. You have to get back up, you have to get back ready to play. You have to be focused; you can’t get focused on Friday. You have to get focused on Sunday and Monday of this week. You’ve got to start getting ready to play now.”

Dantonio said he wants his players to appreciate the history of the program and all the athletes who came before them. He emphasized the importance of realizing that the game “is bigger than [the players] are,” and that it means a lot to the people in the state. And Spartan fans have enjoyed a four-game winning streak against the Maize and Blue.

But Dantonio also focuses on the here and now.

“My focus is winning the football game in 2012,” he said. “We can live and look at [the streak] after the season or at a later time in the future. But right now our focus is on winning this game, because I think it can be the defining moment for our football team this year.”

Loss sticks with Hoke

Michigan hasn’t beaten Michigan State since 2007, and many Wolverine seniors will have their final chance to get their first win over the Spartans on Saturday.

It also serves as an opportunity for redemption for head coach Brady Hoke.

Hoke served as an assistant coach at Michigan from 1995-2002 and said the 2001 loss to the Spartans has stuck with him over the years. He blamed himself for that loss.

“There were some things at the end of the game from the standpoint of how we played and how we coached,” Hoke said. “We had a penalty for too many men on the field, and I just happened to be the guy, late in the game, who was in charge of defensive substitutions. So I’ve kind of taken that personally.”

Hoosiers trying to get over the hump

Indiana has been close to stealing wins against conference heavyweights the last two weeks, but the Hoosiers have come up short and find themselves at 2-4 and 0-2 in the Big Ten.

Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson said producing back-to-back strong efforts is encouraging, but it’s not enough for a program trying to climb out of the conference cellar.

“I’m trying to make sure around here that we don’t get satisfied that we played well, because we didn’t play well,” Wilson said in Tuesday’s teleconference. “We had eight dropped passes, a boatload of missed tackles, and a blocked punt that haunted us. We got down in the scoring zone and had to kick some field goals. We went three-and-out seven times. We get into an exciting game, but we really didn’t play like you need to win. And that’s why we lose.”

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