You do not need to give Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio any incentive to win on any given week. That is especially true this week as he leads his Spartans into Notre Dame Stadium in 2013 for the first time since losing his only game of the season. Michigan State left with a bitter-tasting 17-13 defeat, as the Fighting Irish took advantage of a number of pass interference penalties to keep key drives alive.
Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees completed just 14 of his 34 pass attempts against the Spartans that day, but five critical pass interference penalties proved to be death blows to the Spartans, who were challenged at offense at the time. Dantonio has not forgotten about what he felt cost his team a road win in South Bend that day.
“From my perspective, we made plays. You know, flags came out a little bit, but from my perspective, we made plays on the ball,” Dantonio said when asked about pass interference penalties, according to Chris Vannini of CoachingSearch.com. “Sometimes those are bang-bang type situations where you’re trying to — everybody’s trying to do the right thing, so not looking backwards. But at the same time, regardless of what happens, you need to move on and play the next play. I think that’s the most important thing.”
Things did work out well for the Spartans following that loss in South Bend in 2013. Michigan State went on to win the Big Ten West Division and then upset Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game, which was the first loss for the Buckeyes in two seasons under Urban Meyer. Michigan State went on to defeat Stanford in the Rose Bowl.
Michigan State is looking to snap a three-game losing streak against the Irish. While Michigan State has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success under Dantonio, the Spartans are 3-4 against Notre Dame with losses in four of the last five meetings, all under Dantonio.