Spartans on National Radar

While it may not be anything to pop open champagne over, the Spartans have emerged as a team on the verge of cracking the Top 25. After a tight victory over Pittsburgh, Dantonio's squad is 32nd in the USA Today Coaches' Poll with 21 points and tied for 37th with 1 point in the AP poll.

EAST LANSING – It took only three weeks, but Mark Dantonio has brought a certain amount of respectability back to Michigan State football.

While it's not anything to throw a celebration over, the Spartans have emerged as a team on the verge of cracking the Top 25. After a tight victory over Pittsburgh, Dantonio's squad is 32nd in the USA Today Coaches' Poll with 21 points and tied for 37th with 1 point in the AP poll.

But Dantonio doesn't expect his Spartans to become complacent with success. His message to the team implores them to reach goals they might not have expected to obtain

"The message to our football team last night was we need to overachieve," Dantonio said at his weekly press conference. "We'll continue to take steps towards doing that regardless of where we are record wise. That is the biggest compliment anybody can tell a person to me is when they overachieve. They go beyond their abilities. We need to be able to do that."

A big win against a struggling Notre Dame squad on the road could go a long way toward nudging the Spartans even closer to that Top 25 threshold.

"It's a red-letter game because it's a rival game and, you know, I think there are always certain games that you point to and try and measure yourself against," Dantonio said. "I think Notre Dame will always be one because of the past traditions that have been set in place here."

And performing on the road becomes even more difficult at a place as hallowed as Notre Dame.

"It's like going to Ohio State, it's like going to Michigan . . . it's got that mystique about it," Dantonio said. "It's a special place to play."

As for getting the attention of his players, focusing his team on the Fighting Irish should be a snap for Dantonio after last season's debacle.

"They have a rivalry with us, they played us last year here and you guys know the score on that one," Dantonio said. "You should be motivated by what happened."

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