COLUMN — MSU football avoided "trap game" pitfall against Indiana on Saturday
Bloomington, Ind. — Saturday served as the perfect trap game for MSU football, a game the team used to be known for losing.
No. 8 MSU entered this week favored by more than two touchdowns against a below-average Indiana Hoosiers squad. The game was ruled a guarantee win by some after Indiana lost both of its top two quarterbacks in the same week, leaving a third-string freshman under center.
Combine the Hoosier effect with MSU’s biggest rivalry hanging in the wind next week and you have what is known as a traditional trap game.
A trap that the teams of John L. Smith’s or Bobby Williams’ would have fallen in. But not this Spartan team. Not this Spartan team led by Mark Dantonio. Because for this current team, the current game is the only one that matters.
There was no sign of MSU overlooking Indiana on Saturday, cruising to a 56-17 victory on the road at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind . The win improved MSU to 6-1 overall , extends its Big Ten winning streak to 13 straight victories and improves MSU’s stock in the College Football Playoff picture after a couple more previously unbeaten teams went down.
But more importantly, the win stands as an indicator of what Dantonio has built at MSU during his first 100 games as head coach. The victory over Indiana was Dantonio’s 70th win in his first 100 games roaming the MSU sidelines . For all of you non-math majors, that’s a 70 percent winning percentage.
The 70 wins through his first 100 games puts him in an elite class among former MSU head coaches. To find a former Spartan with a better winning percentage, you’ll have to go back to Clarence “Biggy” Munn who coached at MSU from 1947-1953 . Back to you math majors, how many years ago is that? It’s 61, if my subtraction skills are on point.
Comparing Dantonio to “Biggy” Munn is something that MSU faithful should start considering, and not just the win percentage, but looking at the bigger picture of Munn’s national championship.
Saturday served as a perfect example of how Dantonio has changed the program. Since Dantonio took over back in November of 2006, the program has evolved to overcome the traditional “trap games” and not overlook opponents because it’s no longer all about defeating Michigan.
U-M is no longer the biggest game on the schedule for MSU. The next game is simply the most important for this Spartan program.
Yeah, I know you can consider that just coach and player talk, but it’s what the program has become. Beating U-M this week will once again give MSU bragging rights across the state and that’s all great and dandy, but those who understand the magnitude of this season and program will get how it stands as just one more game.
Because for MSU it’s now about the bigger picture and capturing the nation’s top prize, not just the state’s.