A lot of folks in East Lansing perceived Michigan State’s bowl placement as a slight, especially when compared to rival Michigan.
The Spartans (9-3, 7-2 Big Ten) will head to San Diego to face Washington State (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12) in the Holiday Bowl on. Dec 28 while Michigan (8-4, 5-4 Big Ten) was the Outback Bowl’s Big Ten choice to face South Carolina (8-4, 5-3 SEC) on Jan. 1 in Tampa. MSU finished the season ranked No. 16 in the College Football Playoff rankings, but the folks who call the shots at the Outback Bowl went with unranked UM, which lost to MSU 14-10 in October, instead.
The reaction of MSU coach Mark Dantonio, who is 8-3 against the Wolverines, was simple.
“I just look at it as an opportunity to play in the Holiday Bowl right now,” Dantonio said Sunday. “The records are what they are. I’ll just continue to concentrate on beating Michigan and let things sort of sort out.”
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh evidently did not take too kindly to Dantonio’s sentiment.
Saw Coach D comments on continuing to "focus" on how "he" can beat Michigan. Congrats on turning around a 3-9 team, plagued with off field issues. Good for BIG to have him back.
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) December 4, 2017
Harbaugh is 1-2 against the Spartans during his three seasons as head coach at Michigan. The one win came last season, when MSU, mired in off-field turmoil, finished 3-9. Michigan lost a lot of talent from 2016, but the expectations were higher for the Wolverines entering 2017 compared to the Spartans but Dantonio was able to engineer an impressive turnaround.
Despite that, Michigan was still the pick over Michigan State for a coveted New Year’s Day bowl. There’s certainly merit for MSU fans to view that as a slight, especially given the recent results in the series. Still, the reality is that Michigan is a more high-profile program. Bowl reps are after attention. Michigan, especially with Harbaugh, brings that.
There’s a certain allure that comes with playing a bowl game on Jan. 1, but a trip to San Diego to play a really good Pac-12 team is not a bad consolation. On top of that, this is something Dantonio will use to motivate his team moving forward. He’s thrived preaching the “disrespect” mantra, and will likely continue to do so.
For all Spartans, “it’s not over, it’ll never be over, it’s just getting started” #SpartansWill
— Mark Dantonio (@DantonioMark) December 4, 2017
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