Michigan State's Mark Dantonio reflects on Michigan rivalry: 'In a positive way, it will never be over'
"Tough loss obviously, it was a great football game, disappointing for our team," said Dantonio, issuing his postgame remarks in a woefully inadequate-sized press conference room that overflowed into the hallway of an otherwise impeccably refurbished Michigan Stadium.
"I asked our players to man up, play with confidence, with pride and play with toughness, and we did that. In the end, you have to take what comes down the road and have be able to stomach it, but we'll be all right, we'll rise up."
The Spartans fell to 4-4 overall and 1-3 in the Big Ten.
The good news for fans of the green and white was that the team had indeed left its best on the field in an attempt to become the first Michigan State football squad to win five in a row in the storied rivalry.
That doubled as bad news, however, in that the Spartans' best wasn't good enough to beat a largely one-dimensional Michigan (5-2, 3-0) team.
The Wolverines won the game largely because their quarterback, Denard Robinson, made game-winning plays while Michigan State's Andrew Maxwell could not.
Much of whatever mystique Michigan State had been able to build with recent successes over both the Wolverines and Notre Dame has been washed away in the short-attention span of the Now Generation, and the rise of Ohio State under SEC-driven Urban Meyer threatens the Spartans' prowess recruiting the fertile grounds of the Buckeye State.
Dantonio, however, did not show any signs of wavering in the face of such rising circumstances, even just minutes removed from one of the more devastating losses in his largely successful head coaching career.
"I'm not trying to be controversial here, so please don't take it like this," Dantonio said, "but in a positive way, it will never be over.
"That's the thing everybody needs to realize. We'll play again. That's the positive. It's not like the series is ending, so we'll be all right."
The schedule that looms ahead threatens that notion, as the Spartans travel to play Wisconsin at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, followed by home dates with Nebraska (Nov. 3) and Northwestern (Nov. 17) before closing the regular season at Minnesota (Nov. 24).
"It's tough, not to get them back up -- our guys, we put them through adverse situations through the entire year, so we'll be back next week, we'll have our confidence, we'll be ready to play," Dantonio said. "But it's tough because you know you're very, very close to being whatever (record) and having three more wins."
Indeed, Michigan State's three Big Ten losses have been by a combined six points (12-10, Michigan; 17-16, Ohio State; and 19-16, Iowa).
"You have to look at that and deal with it, and this is one of the years we have to do that," Dantonio said. "Shoulda, coulda doesn't really get it, and we just have to play through it, and in the end, this has to make us stronger.
"I'm competitive like everyone else, and our players are competitive. I'm proud of how we played, and how we responded. Beyond that, I can live with it."