September 14, 2010

Video: Dantonio relishes rivalry with Notre Dame

EAST LANSING - Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio had a different demeanor at the podium during his weekly press conference than he has in the two previous weeks prior to the Spartans' games against Western Michigan and Florida Atlantic.

Dantonio smiled more than usual and he even joked with reporters from time to time. It was clear from his demeanor that the fourth-year Spartan head coach is excited about seeing how his team stacks up against Notre Dame this Saturday in a night game at Spartan Stadium.

Michigan State enters the game with a 2-0 mark after wins over WMU and FAU. The Spartans are preparing for a dangerous Notre Dame ballclub that is hungry to bounce back after a loss to Michigan in South Bend last Saturday.

Dantonio said that he watched the final quarter of Notre Dame's 28-24 loss to Michigan after returning from Ford Field following MSU's win over Florida Atlantic. The fourth-year Spartan coach described the game between Michigan and Notre Dame as a great college football game.

Dantonio expects another great game this weekend when first-year Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly leads his team into Spartan Stadium for the 74th meeting between Michigan State and Notre Dame in the history of the rivalry which dates back to 1897.

Senior fullback Josh Rouse will be the fourth captain for the game. Rouse's season ended after he suffered a neck injury midway through the season opener against Western Michigan. Rouse will be on the field for the coin toss. The presence of Rouse on the field will be reminiscent of Amp Campbell's dramatic walk out to midfield in 1998 one week after he suffered a neck injury in a collision during a road game at Oregon.

After watching film of Notre Dame's first two games, Dantonio indicated that he is impressed with a number of players on both sides of the ball. The Spartan head coach said that he was impressed with the play of Dayne Crist, a strong-armed 6-foot-4, 235-pounder that will test Michigan State defensive backs with the deep ball. Dantonio also touched upon other Notre Dame standouts including Michael Floyd, running back Armando Allen, and tight end Kyle Rudolph. On defense Dantonio said that linebackers Darius Fleming and Manti Te'o and cornerback Darrin Walls impressed him during film study.

The Fighting Irish lead the all-time series with Michigan State 45-27-1. The Spartans, who trail only Southern Cal in all-time victories over Notre Dame, have won nine out of the last 13 meeting between the two teams. During that recent stretch, all but a handful of games have been decided by more than 10 points.

Before the game Michigan State legends Brad VanPelt and John Pingel will have their names added to Spartan Stadium's ring of honor. Van Pelt and Pingel were both All-Americans at Michigan State. Each man is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Those two names will be added to the ring of honor which already includes luminaries Bubba Smith, George Webster, Don Coleman, and John Hannah.

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