Dantonio and Meyer both agree — MSU-Ohio State rivalry isn't yet noteworthy
In East Lansing, no one needs to ask who the main rival of No. 7 MSU (7-1 overall, 4-0 Big Ten) is. Michigan is the clear rival, and the same thing can be said about MSU’s opponent this week in No. 13 Ohio State (7-1 overall, 4-0 Big Ten), as the Buckeyes have a hatred as old as time for Michigan.
But does a rivalry between MSU and OSU exist? According to both coaches, the budding rivalry between the Spartans and Buckeyes isn’t on that level yet.
“Our rivals right here, right now are Michigan and Notre Dame,” Dantonio said. “I would agree ... there are certain football teams that you start to shape as a rivalry over the years. I think it goes back and forth but I think you need to have a very long history.”
Dantonio was responding to comments made by OSU head coach Urban Meyer on Monday, saying that the only true rival at OSU is U-M.
“I would agree with (Meyer) because I read his comments,” he said. “I do think we have a lot of players playing from Ohio and I do think that makes it personal.”
Dantonio mentioned that there have been many teams that MSU has begun budding rivalries with during his tenure. He said Wisconsin, Iowa and now OSU all fit in that category.
“People were talking about us and Wisconsin ... the championship game, in 2011 playing in the big game here at night and all those kinds of things,” he said. “It’s been Iowa, playing a lot of close games with Iowa, it’s Ohio State.”
Dantonio mentioned there is a difference between a game being a rivalry and the game being personal. There are 27 players on MSU’s roster from Ohio, which players addressed as adding a personal layer to the game, rivalry or not.
Senior safety Kurtis Drummond is from Masury, Ohio and said he wasn’t recruited at all by OSU.
“It sits with you a little bit,” he said. “Coming here to coach Dantonio and his staff was the best thing that could have happened to me. So I definitely have self-motivation, but I find self-motivation for whoever we’re playing.”
Junior quarterback Connor Cook is from Hinckley Township, Ohio and said growing up there was no division between teams the way that there is in Michigan.
“Everyone I went to high school with either goes to Ohio State, roots for Ohio State,” he said. “It’s not divided like in Michigan. In Michigan when you grow up you’re either blue or green, you grow up in Ohio and you’re a Buckeye fan.”
While he admitted there was more emotion attached to the game, Cook said he knows he has to treat the game like any other game on the schedule.
“I feel no matter the who the opponent is, once you start Big Ten play every single game is a championship game,” he said. “So this is going to be just like the Purdue game, just like the Indiana game. If we had lost to Purdue we wouldn’t be talking about this, so it’s just like any other Big Ten game. I know that sounds cliche but truly that’s how we look at it.”