"It's sort of engrained in who we are"

Dantonio says he carries respect for rival Michigan, but competitive nature is rooted in him from the number of times he has played the Wolverines -- both at Ohio State and MSU.

It is little secret how Mark Dantonio feels about Michigan State's rivalry with Michigan.

It has been built over many years of playing the Wolverines – both at Michigan State and Ohio State.

"I think I've played them 15 times now," Dantonio said. "It's sort of engrained into who we are or who my family is. It's just sort of been a norm every year since 1995 but three."

In his time in East Lansing, Dantonio has 4-2 record against the in-state rival. He said he carries a great deal of respect for Michigan and the rivalry – and that everyone should understand that.

That doesn't stop it from bringing out the competitor in him, however.

"I'm a competitor, too, just like our players are," he said. "There are times when I need to stand up and be accountable for who I am and the position I hold because I represent a lot of people.

"A lot of people have feelings towards this game. I think that's important to recognize, because that's a part of it, too."

He also said for the people in the state of Michigan it starts with how you grow up and that is something that translates to his players.

"I think you grow up either green or you grow up blue," he said. "Not too many people are any different than that in Michigan. So it's an exciting opportunity for our players, a great challenge for our players, always has been."

With the Spartans entering Saturday with a 7-1 record and sitting atop the Legends Division with a 4-0 record, it brings even more weight to play a division foe.

"This game means more than just winning and losing in state," Dantonio said. "It's an opportunity to really sort of take control of the Legends a little bit or at least push forward.

"The stakes get higher as we go."

Spartan Digest Top Stories