Two things struck me in the aftermath of Michigan State’s prime time 14-10 victory over Michigan Saturday night at Michigan Stadium.
I thought of all the emails and tweets my former broadcast partner Mike Valenti used to receive from Wolverine fans saying “How does it feel to have your Sparty run over now that Jim Harbaugh is in town?”
And I remember how angry that used to make him.
And I thought of MSU coach Mark Dantonio who said about the rivalry and Mike Hart’s little brother comments: “This is personal. It will never be over.”
Dantonio is the master motivator and I am now convinced that Michigan State is a threat to beat Michigan every time they play. He will make it personal every year and have his team playing like its pants are on fire when it takes on the maize and blue.
He had plenty of ammunition this year. Vegas established Michigan initially as a 17-point favorite. It needed to establish that ridiculous line just to get people to bet on State and even the betting. More than 70 percent of people in the state of Michigan predicted Michigan to win.
Dantonio is 8-3 against Michigan and 2-1 against Harbaugh. Some of this Harbaugh love should disappear because he is now 1-4 against chief rivals Ohio State and Michigan State.
State players also told me that if you are a two star athlete and are recruited by State that you remain a two star athlete. If you are a two star and Michigan signs you then you are often bumped to a three star because the program is viewed as superior.
Dantonio plays off all of that and motivates his guys.
You can point to the five turnovers that cost Michigan. But those turnovers were often the result of Michigan failing to establish a consistent running game, never securing a secure lead and feeling the need to pass in a monsoon.