Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio holds his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Cody Tucker/Lansing State Journal
EAST LANSING – Mark Dantonio said getting back to work after the biggest loss in his time at Michigan State felt like “business as usual.”
Not for him. And not for a number of his players. The sting of Saturday’s beatdown at Ohio State will remain fresh for a few days.
“That’s why weeks like this kind of suck, because you’re just depressed and down pretty much all week until Saturday,” senior center Brian Allen said Monday night. “We’ll be kind of angry and pissed off until then, and hopefully we come out and play a lot better Saturday.”
The 24th-ranked Spartans host Maryland at 4 p.m. Saturday in the home finale at Spartan Stadium (Fox). That leaves plenty of time to stew over Saturday’s 48-3 beatdown by No. 8 Ohio State, a game which most likely took MSU (7-3, 5-2) out of contention in the Big Ten East Division race.
“They’ve had their moments in their past where things haven’t always gone so well and they get ready to play the next game and be in the next moment. I think young people are basically like that,” Dantonio said during his press conference Tuesday. “We need to get up for our football game. I don’t know what it was in that game, but we didn’t play our best. And we were going to have to play our best against Ohio State to be in the game.
“We were going to have to continue to overachieve, as I always say, to be in that football game. And we did not. And then the wave of momentum and everything else, you saw what happened. So I’m trying to get off that moment.”
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The loss produced a number of program worsts, including the largest margin of defeat in Dantonio’s 11 seasons. The Buckeyes gained the most running yards ever against MSU during that time (335), and they produced a pair of 100-yard rushers after the Spartans held every other ball carrier this season to 67-or-fewer yards and posted the most yards against their defense this season (524).
MSU’s offense also equaled the program high of six sacks allowed while gaining a season-worst 195 yards, the fewest by a Dantonio team since losing to Nebraska in 2011. The Spartans had never trailed by 35 points in the first half under Dantonio before until Saturday and had only given up that many in 30 minutes of football twice, both last season (Northwestern and Penn State).
“Flat-out, we got beat – beat down bad,” senior linebacker Chris Frey said Monday. “You’re gonna learn from your mistakes. We have a lot of young guys on the team that quite frankly haven’t lost games like that. Coach D hasn’t lost games like that. … We take that personally. That’s something that obviously we don’t take pride in.
“I think the biggest thing to take away from that game is we gotta come ready to go at the beginning of every game. You can’t come out flat.”
Dantonio said he still felt “a little bit ticked off” by what transpired, including his own perceived flatness from his team at the outset Saturday. However, he continued to extol the “value” of what his inexperienced team learned in playing for a shot at a Big Ten title how things unraveled.
And he wants them to grasp and digest that in the coming days before Maryland (4-6, 2-5) arrives. The Spartans already have clinched bowl eligibility with two games remaining, but the Terrapins need to win out to assure a postseason.
Dantonio called it a critical crossroads for MSU after last week’s title-bout knockout.
“This becomes an even bigger game, because I think this becomes more of a program game,” Dantonio said. “And you don’t want to step back and play negatively after a negative moment. So it becomes an even bigger moment. …
“Our goal is to finish out. Our goal is to win 10 football games this season. I think that would be a tremendous thing that we’ve done. We’ve competed for a championship. Now, let’s not go backwards.”
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