COLUMN — Saturday's win over U-M redefines rivalry for Spartan football
For years, Spartan football had been marked with uncertainty from fans. It seemed like whenever the program was ready to turn the corner and become elite, one game would be dropped and the season would fall into uncertainty.
That time has come, that time has gone and Saturday night at Spartan Stadium we saw the most recent example of how MSU has already redefined what the expectations are, and they are following the script of a season that has the chance to be special.
It was shown when a long-time nemesis was vanquished again, for the sixth time in seven years.
Nothing screamed that MSU has arrived as an elite program more, however, than the actions of the team on the other sideline. When Michigan stabbed a stake into the ground at the 35-yard line as a supposed taunting tactic, it screamed that this is a Wolverine team that is insecure and needed to be motivated by more than their pride.
It screamed “we’re the little brother now.”
And MSU scoring a final touchdown in response? It screamed to the nation what people in East Lansing and Ann Arbor have known for years. MSU is the bully now, they know it, and they are owning it.
“You might as well come out and say what you feel at some point,” head coach Mark Dantonio said. “All the little brother stuff, all the disrespect, it doesn’t have to go in that direction.”
Dantonio has been good at keeping the lion in the cage when it comes to what he says to the media. He joked on Tuesday that he knew the U-M press conference was going to be difficult, and when he said that it seemed like something in him snapped a little bit.
We got a better view of who Dantonio is as a man, something we knew he had in him because we’ve seen it before. After MSU’s loss in 2007 to U-M he went off on a rant saying that this game would be important to MSU.
Since that time he has lost to U-M once, and that fire still burns in Dantonio and the Spartans despite their dominance over U-M in the rivalry.
As for the most famous words to ever come out of Mike Hart’s mouth? Even though they were said in 2007 , they still hold a lot of weight in this rivalry.
It just seems to apply more to the team in Ann Arbor than East Lansing these days.