Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 10/25/11
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Theres only so many times in a season that a football coach can get his team to play to an emotional peak. Michigan States Mark Dantonio has to try to do it for the third straight week -- and the fourth time this month -- when the Spartans face another crucial Big Ten game Saturday at Nebraska. Showdown-tober began on the first day of the month at Ohio State, where MSU hadnt won in 13 years. Following a bye week came the annual grudge match with No. 10 Michigan, then last Saturdays Hail Mary upset of unbeaten, No. 4 Wisconsin. The Spartans are 34 of the way to a perfect October, which long ago was viewed as the key to this season. It gets no easier, however, with this weeks matchup of 6-1 teams. Michigan State (3-0 in the Big Ten) is ranked No. 10 while Nebraska (2-1) is No. 13. Whoever wins this football game sort of puts themselves in the drivers seat, Dantonio, referring to the Big Ten Legends Division race and potential tiebreaker scenarios, said during his weekly news conference Tuesday. The division winner will play in the Big Ten championship game Dec. 3 in Indianapolis. The reality of college sports is that letdowns often follow emotional victories. And sometimes those letdowns come even when a team has everything to play for, such as the Spartans. Dantonio is hoping his teams leadership can produce another peak performance. If youre going to have a special year, youre going to have to do that over and over and over, Dantonio said. Players see opportunities and they try to rise to those occasions. They get themselves ready to play. We try to deflate a little bit throughout the week and build for the weekend. I think our players will be ready. It will be a different environment to play in (MSUs first game in Lincoln since 1996). That will be exciting for them. The bigger the chips, the more exciting things get. Theres going to be a lot of things to play for. I think that creates excitement naturally. But it guarantees nothing, of course. Not in college football, where emotions can be draining. Big game, big environment, Dantonio said. It will be challenging. We all can have the best intent when we get ready to play that game, to be energetic and keep our enthusiasm and handle adversity and do all these things. But can we do it in the game? Can we be constant in the game? "When you make plays out on the field, that creates enthusiasm and thats contagious. Weve got to do that. Michigan States schedule eases up considerably after October. The final games are against Minnesota, at Iowa, vs. Indiana and at Northwestern. The ending to the Wisconsin game -- a long pass by Kirk Cousins that deflected off the face mask of receiver B.J. Cunningham straight to teammate Keith Nichol for the winning score with no time remaining -- should give the Spartans confidence that this is their year. A team-of-destiny mentality, just like the fake field goal in overtime against Notre Dame did last season. Perhaps Michigan State will ride this wave of emotion all the way to Pasadena, Calif., for its first Rose Bowl trip since the 1987 season. One thing is fairly certain at this point: These are not those Same Old Spartans anymore. Dantonio inherited a program that was known for misfortune and always doing the wrong thing at the wrong time. He has reversed the karma. The breaks are now going the Spartans way. They suddenly have a knack for doing the right thing at the right time. The bad luck, the darkest of clouds, has finally left East Lansing, at least for now. Right now its headed in the right direction, Dantonio said of his program, which has won 17 of its last 20 games. But you dont want to assume anything. Even while winning a school-record 11 games last season, the Spartans imploded just when they were starting to get some national attention. An 8-0 start turned into a 37-6 embarrassment at Iowa and then a co-Big Ten championship became a 49-7 laugher against Alabama in a bowl game. The Spartans have another chance in front of them right now. The last-second theatrics to knock off Wisconsin grabbed headlines around the nation. But can they rise up one more time this month and put themselves in control for a spot in the Big Tens first title game? These new Spartans, believe it or not, look like theyre going to make it happen -- even if it takes another miracle. EXTRA POINTS Dantonio, who recently received a new contract, confirmed that pay raises are coming for his assistant coaches, too. The university had a freeze this past year in terms of raises, he said. I think we were fourth (in the Big Ten in assistants salaries). Theres a substantial plan in place where there are guarantees involved. ... Dantonio also confirmed that defensive end Tyler Hoover and center Blake Treadwell will be redshirted rather than try to return from injuries for the last couple games. ... Edwin Baker has started every game at tailback, but that doesnt mean hes the main man, especially after fumbling each of the last two games. LeVeon Bell had five more carries than Baker against Wisconsin. Were going to go with the hot guy, said Dantonio, who included Larry Caper with Baker and Bell. Theyre all starters to me. Theyre all been the guy that weve said Hey give him the ball the most in a football game. Whoever gets hot in the game, thats who were going to go with. Well figure it out as we go.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

The Rams might be fun again

Players with most to prove heading into NBA season

CC Sabathia not worried about booze-fueled celebrations

Bill Belichick defers Aaron Hernandez CTE, lawsuit questions

Brady claims sunburn can be avoided by drinking a lot of water

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Knicks expect Carmelo Anthony to open camp with team

Irving was late to meeting with Stevens after car broke down

Ezekiel Elliott: Cowboys don’t play for ‘the talking heads’

Todd Gurley says Rams believe they can win Super Bowl

Seven players who stood out in Rams' thrilling win over 49ers

Rams WRs Sammy Watkins, Tavon Austin evaluated for concussions

WNBA Finals preview: Lynx look for revenge against Sparks

The 'Chris Sale joins an elite club' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: The home runs just keep on coming

Building on the NFL's positive changes beyond 2017

NFL Week 3 predictions

The 'MLB is as powerful as ever' quiz

After a decade in the WNBA, MVP Sylvia Fowles is ready for the spotlight

College football 2017 Week 4 predictions

10 teams that can unseat the Warriors in 2018

NFL Referee Hotline: Mike McCarthy is sick of these calls

The 'Kevin Durant has mad (Twitter) handles' quiz

Baseball's most underwhelming teams of 2017

Spartans News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

WNBA Finals preview: Lynx look for revenge against Sparks

Three Up, Three Down: The home runs just keep on coming

The 'Chris Sale joins an elite club' quiz

Building on the NFL's positive changes beyond 2017

NFL Week 3 predictions

After a decade in the WNBA, MVP Sylvia Fowles is ready for the spotlight

The 'MLB is as powerful as ever' quiz

10 teams that can unseat the Warriors in 2018

College football 2017 Week 4 predictions

NFL Referee Hotline: Mike McCarthy is sick of these calls

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker