The only time Michigan State was ineligible for a bowl game under coach Mark Dantonio was in 2016, when the Spartans went 3-9. They are cutting it close this season, going 5-6, with just one game left. MSU took down their first challenge on the road yesterday, 27-0, and will finish at home against Maryland next week.
Hungry seniors make up a chunk of the defensive line and the heart of the offense. The clock ticking on their college football playing time pushes them all to stay determined.
“We’ve got win both to be able to get a bowl game,” quarterback Brian Lewerke said. “That’s what our thing is around here."
Early-season upsets and unforeseen injuries compounded the Spartans' inability to meet lofty expectations. But challenges just add fuel to the fire for MSU.
“I think overcoming adversity is kind of a Spartan-dawg thing,” senior defensive lineman Raequan Williams said. "So, we know how to take losses and respond.”
The Spartans have played four teams currently in the AP Top 25 (No. 2 Ohio State, No. 9 Penn State, No. 12 Michigan, No. 14 Wisconsin).
The losses carry a lot of weight over the team, but to finish the season strong, the Spartans are focusing on a phrase coach Mark Dantonio preaches: “completing the circle.”
“I've always said I live in the present,” Dantonio said. “I've always said that. There's certain things that you have control of, there's certain things you don't have control of … My father always talked to me complete the circle, complete the circle. That's what I'm trying to do.”
If completing the circle is getting to a bowl game, MSU will have to win this last game.
Even if the Spartans end 6-6, it won’t be a fabulous destination in Florida or California. It'll will most likely be the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit or the Pinstripe Bowl at the Yankee Stadium. Either way, 2-0 is the only option for the Spartans.
“For me completing the circle is just finishing what you started,” Lewerke said. “We’ve got to finish it strong."
Seniors like Lewerke and Williams expressed their longing to finish their final season strong, but seniors aren't the only ones.
"It's big, getting these seniors out on a bowl game," junior linebacker Antjuan Simmons said. "Sending them out the right way. So, that's the main thing right now."
It seems like the team is on the same page: 2-0. As a united front, the Spartans will face their last challenge at the Spartan Stadium against Maryland. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m.