After Saturday’s incredible, crazy, heart-pounding win over Michigan, I heard one thing walking out of Spartan Stadium that disturbed me: “Well, now it’s a successful season.”
After the past two seasons, the expectations for the Michigan State Spartans football program are different. This is not your father’s MSU team when beating Michigan was—as Michigan alum and aging Detroit Lions linebacker Larry Foote said so arrogantly—like winning the Super Bowl.
Times are different. The Spartans cannot afford a Michigan hangover any more.
This is something that needs to change in our fans, especially. Yes, beating Little Sister does do a lot to take the sting out of a disappointing start. However, Saturday’s win must be the start of a wave of success, not the crest of one and those around the program must expect, nay demand, that.
The game coming up in Champaign should be played with the same sense of urgency we all saw against Michigan. Illinois has been, in a word, atrocious this season, going so far as to bench star quarterback Juice Williams. Coming to Memorial Stadium on homecoming means one thing: MSU will be playing a desperate team.
It is imperative to stomp the Illini out before they have a semblance of hope.
For inspiration, the team needs to look back to 2008, when they hosted a 4-4 Wisconsin team in the middle of a down year. For three quarters, the Spartans seemed like they had just woke up the Sunday after the Michigan game and had been partying all night. The Michigan hangover was all too evident.
But, the Spartans took a Tylenol, drank a Gatorade, and had a Big Mac in the fourth quarter to chase that hangover off. MSU fought and scratched and pulled out a miracle win on a late Brett Swenson field goal.
That same type of nerve has to be shown on Saturday in Champaign.
Mark Dantonio has a rule that only allows him, his coaches, and the team to enjoy a win, or mourn a loss, for 24-hours. By now, they have surely turned all of their attention toward Illinois. Spartan fans, it is time to do the same.
Yes, Michigan has been defeated. The Spartans walloped the Wolverines for 56-minutes. Chances are the celebrations spanned the rest of Saturday and maybe part of Sunday too all around Spartan Nation.
It doesn’t change the fact the team is 2-3 (1-1). Improvement is still needed on both sides of the ball. MSU must keep improving against Illinois, and adding a road win would be a good start to raising the Spartans’ bowl hopes.
So, no, we haven’t won the Super Bowl, Spartan fans. The season is not a success yet. Michigan is vanquished and it’s time to focus our gaze on expecting victory on Saturday.