Dantonio's extra prep for Michigan is key to their success. True?

Submitted by Ziff72 on October 15th, 2018 at 2:28 PM

I don't want to be a strawman but I feel pretty confident saying the general narrative between both fanbases, talks show hosts and national talking heads is this:  Dantonio puts extra prep and so much focus on the Michigan game that his teams are more prepared and that leads to him dominating the rivalry.    

I decided to look back at the games to see if this is true.  My thinking is that if MSU has special plays and schemes saved for Michigan and added preparation and more intensity for the rivalry you would see that play out in the beginning of games and their performance would exceed expectations.   

Please chime in with additional game or situation details as I just don't see it.   MSU loses in Dantonios 1st year is called Little Brother and the narrative begins.

2008 35-21 MSU-RR 1st year.  Michigan is dreadful.   MSU finishes a solid 9-4.   They come in with hatred from the previous year and Michigan is a joke.   With 5 minutes left to go in half it's 7-7 and Threet has just thrown his 2nd pick.   Don't see any Dantonio magic here.   Game went right to script.

2009 26-20 MSU- At MSU Michigan scores 1st and trails at half 10-6.  Not exactly a master motivational job by Dantonio.   Both teams ended up pretty medicore.  

2010 34-17 MSU-  Michigan had an actual team this year so at home hopes were high.   Michigan came right down the field to start and Denard got picked in end zone.   MSU did nothing on offense until  the 2nd qtr and lead 17-10 at half.   MSU ended up 11-2 that year so they had the better team and things again ended up pretty much as you would expect looking back.

2011 28-14 MSU-   Trash tornado game.  2 evenly matched teams.  7-7 at half.   Borges incompetence is not Dantonio genius.

2012 12-10 Michigan- Both teams are down from 2011.  Ugly game.  Michigan wins so no magic.

2013 29-6 MSU- One of best teams in MSU history at home vs end of Hoke regime.  Blowout as expected.

2014 35-11 MSU- Ditto..

2015 27-23 MSU-  Michigan leads at half 10-7.  Miracle saves MSU

2016 32-23 Michigan-  MSU has their scripted jumbo drive everyone raves about the reality is this was a blowout ...27-10 Michigan at half.  Game over.

2017- 14-10 MSU-   Michigan scores 1st in this game.   More than anything MSU does Michigan commits 5 turnovers to hand this game over.   Props I guess for accepting the gifts.

Credit to Dantonio for winning the games we handed him, but I don't see any games here where he took the inferior team and defeated Michigan because of the chips on his shoulder.  

He has actually performed much better from an expectation standpoint against Penn St and Ohio St where he has engineered big wins and upsets.   We have just basically sucked and handed him games over the last decade and he has taken them.  

If he has prepped for Michigan so well and his team is so focused you would expect great starts from MSU where they dominate early and put the game away but I would say they have actually under performed early in most of these games.   Maybe Dantonio is really good at halftime adjustments to pull these games out, but that's not the narrative.   

What do you think?






October 15th, 2018 at 2:35 PM ^

No...He is a great coach who gets the best out of his players, but he and everyone else had the benefit of the Rich Rod/Hoke era and he took advantage of that good for him.  Bad luck and that have attributed to most of this.  The Australian punter debacle was just bad luck, and playing your backup QB in a tropical storm in Michigan led to those losses.  Michigan Turns the table this year and going forward into the future as well on Saturday.


October 15th, 2018 at 8:48 PM ^

He recruits to his system and works to put as many 6th year seniors on the field as possible.  2 or 3-star recruits that plan like 4-stars in their fifth year.  Mark D. has 20 seniors this year.  Even if they aren't starters they know the system and can rotate or step in for the injured.

Hold This L

October 16th, 2018 at 1:48 AM ^

I have a strong opinion on dantonio so I strongly disagree. A GOOD-GREAT COACH DOESNT GO 3-9 IN HIS 9th YEAR WITH A PROGRAM. Name me one coach considered good or great that’s gone 3-9 that late into their tenure. He’s an average coach who benefited from Michigan and penn state being down and OSU going through sanctions. Harbaugh had bad luck and probably didn’t take him as serious as he should have. Now he knows 


October 16th, 2018 at 8:41 AM ^

Oh, so Harbaugh had "bad luck" (which doesn't exist, FYI)  but Dantonio isn't a good/great coach because of one 3-9 season?

Thats bullshit.  

He's beaten PSU, OSU, Stanford, etc far more than any Michigan coach has in a decade.  You're full of childish excuses about "being down' and "unlucky", and "transitions" and "sanctions".  They are all whiny bitch excuses.

If PSU was so hurt by sanctions how did they win the big 10?  How did MSU just beat them last weekend?  What about the victories over OSU?  Michigan hasn't done it.

I wouldn''t piss on Mark Dantonio if he was on fire; but all the whiny-bitch-excuse-ladden fools who can't hate a coach but still credit a team and program for the wins they achieve on the field shouldn't call themselves sports fans.

Hold This L

October 16th, 2018 at 3:01 PM ^

Name me one coach that’s considered good that’s gone 3-9 that late into their tenure. You can’t. They don’t exist. An above average coach keeps his team above .500. Bo’s worst year where he lost everybody he was still above .500. Do you realize MSU hasn’t lost nine games in a season since 1982? Michigan has lost nine games more recent than that. So you tell me which program was in worse shape when mark and harbaugh took over respectively. 

I guess smu was able to recover from sanctions then, right? Since sanctions don’t matter according to you. Maybe it took a coach of NFL caliber to right the ship for Penn state. Maybe it took a coach with a NC to go to one of the easiest schools to recruit at to get OSU winning again. Michigan had two horrible coaches. OSU and PSU has good coaches to bring them back. The winning culture was lost at Michigan. 

And you forget all context around the 3-9 season to fit your narrative. It was his 9th year as head coach, he supposedly had built his program into an elite school or at least one that is bowl eligible every year. Could you imagine urban Meyer going 3-9 in his 9th year at a school, or nick saban, or harbaugh, or leach, or chip kelly, or Brian kelly, or Dan Mullen, or jimbo fisher, or dabo, or Shaw, or harsin, or Peterson? Look at the exodus of talent harbaugh faced last year and he still went 8-5. 

Look at pat Fitzgerald. That program had nothing and his worst year was his first where he went 4-8. Amazing how he’s never won less than 5 games since then, even at a program like northwestern. Face it, some coaches are average but they are at big schools that recruit well and it basically guarantees 8-9 wins. And some coaches are average but they have good records because their competition isn’t good. Teams like Memphis and UCF for example. They’ll get their 10 wins, but they won’t play anyone. That’s what the big ten was when mark was doing his winning. He also had the best d coordinator in CFB at the time.  

To act like luck never occurs or changes a game is pretty ignorant. Mason Crosby just had historically one of the worst games of any kicker ever and he comes back to his normal self this week. So the lions weren’t fortunate he was off that week? One could say, they “got lucky” that they caught him off his game. How about when RG3 threw a pass that deflected 10 yards down field into a receivers hands against OU. I bet he would tell you himself it was luck. You really think there is no bad luck? Lmao I would say most times a player gets hurt it’s bad luck, like Grant newsome or any player that’s ever torn their Achilles. 

Thanks for no argument whatsoever, just saying sanctions don’t matter and not understanding context when mentioning penn state, Ohio state, or Michigan state in regards to Michigan. 

Maison Bleue

October 15th, 2018 at 5:08 PM ^

Are we sure that MSU doesn't suck? Maybe PSU just sucks more(Franklin sure does).

MSU has two pretty bad losses on their record right now and really hasn't looked good against anyone, outside of a bunch of trickery and luck against PSU.

So in my mind, all we can truly say is "MSU doesn't suck at trick plays, losing fumbles(They fumbled 4 times @PSU and recovered them all) and losing INTs that hit PSU's CB in the chest."


October 15th, 2018 at 2:38 PM ^

Credit whatever you want for those games.  Sparty won games because they made plays when they needed to, and in some of these games they just straight up crushed us at the line of scrimmage.  Those drubbings in 2013 and 2014 were woodshed games.  The miraculous punt block was unfortunate, but those guys made that play.  The monsoon game last year sucked because we gifted it to them, but they made the plays to win.  

Just win the game, no excuses, no bullshit, no talk.  Love the approach by Harbaugh this year.  Michigan has the chance to add to its resume/ranking against Michigan State this year, but I guarantee it will have to be earned.  Hope the good guys go out and earn it.  All of this teams goals are still ahead of them, and all of Michigan State's are too.  


October 15th, 2018 at 2:45 PM ^

The miraculous punt block was unfortunate, but those guys made that play. 

O'Neill fumbled the snap and then tried to pick it up and kick it instead of just falling down. They needed both of those breaks to happen before they could make their play. 

Last year, too, they had nothing to do with McDoom dropping that ball with 20 seconds left when he was wide open down the sideline.  

They've been well-prepared for us, but have also caught some breaks.  It doesn't have to be an either/or.


October 15th, 2018 at 3:29 PM ^

Actually - the rusher first contacts the guard before hitting the snapper. The MSU play was clean per the rule book.


9.4.6 SITUATION A: From a scrimmage-kick formation, A1 snaps the ball to upback A2 who is 3 yards behind the line and offset from the snapper by 1 yard. A2 runs for a 10-yard gain. Immediately after the snap started, B7 charges: (a) directly into the snapper; or (b) into the gap between the snapper and the adjacent A player making simultaneous contact with both the snapper and the other Team A player. The snapper had not had the opportunity to defend himself and was displaced by B7’s charge.


RULING: In (a), B7 has roughed the snapper. If accepted, the loose ball foul is enforced with a 15-yard penalty from the previous spot and an automatic first down. There is no requirement that the ball be kicked or that a deep back receive the snap. In (b), there is no foul. The snapper’s protection does not include simultaneous contact with another A player, nor does it take away the “center-guard gap” from B. The roughing prohibition is only for a direct charge into the snapper. (2-32-14)

Blues Notes

October 15th, 2018 at 7:49 PM ^

Actually the MSU player hit the punter's arm propelling the ball toward the MSU player to take it in.

MSU had no one back and clearly were coming for the ball as their only hope. Harbaugh failed to recognize this and sent gunners to cover no one. That was all that MSU needed to get to the ball. 


October 15th, 2018 at 2:46 PM ^

True.  Dantonio has publicly said as much, and Seth broke down the 2016 opening drive to add proof.  It's probably just about all dantonio cares about


October 15th, 2018 at 9:57 PM ^

I’d argue it’s got some element of truth. Scott Bell broke out some interesting numbers on Mork

Dantoni is 2-16 all time in true road games vs teams that finish the season ranked...those 2 games are punt 6 vs Mich and the rainstorm game last second FG vs OSU in same season (Urban Meyer essentially sat Zeke the week before The Game); 3-16 if PSU finishes ranked this season.


October 15th, 2018 at 2:49 PM ^

Yeah, if I'm not mistaken, the team that finished the season with the better record has gone 10-1 since 2007, and that's generously counting 2011 Michigan (11-2) as having a better record than MSU (11-3) for the one and only exception.


October 15th, 2018 at 2:49 PM ^

Sick of the excuses. Sick of saying it doesn’t count because they were against Hoke and RR. Sick of hearing about the miracle, sick of hearing about rain. There’s no magic to it in my opinion, he gets his team ready for us and they play with nothing to lose. Need to end the narrative this year. 


October 15th, 2018 at 3:39 PM ^

Every game counts.  But I'm not going to pretend that Dantonio's wins over us in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2014 were because of his sheer will to prepare his team better.  Those were awful, AWFUL Michigan teams.  

Those same Michigan teams couldn't beat Toledo, Rutgers, Maryland, Illinois, Purdue.  They were 6 yards shy of losing to a 10 loss Akron team at the big house in 2014.  In 2009, we won ONE conference game all season (a miracle win over lowly Indiana) and the only win we had the last 9 weeks of the season was against Delaware State!  2008 was the worst season in school history.  Revisiting these games serves no purpose because we sucked...pure and simple.  

Dantonio is still a hell of a coach and he has his teams prepared.  He motivates them with the chip on the shoulder mentality that everyone is laughing at their ability...even when they're picked second in the conference.  He's also an ass and I want us to pound Sparty in to oblivion ala the Schembechler years.   


October 15th, 2018 at 7:21 PM ^

"2008 was the worst season in school history."

I have huge respect for everything you've done for Wolverine football fans, but the '34 team was much, much worse.

It went 1-7 and was shut out FIVE times. Scored a grand total of 21 points all season. Their lone victory was over a 1-9 Georgia Tech team.

As bad as it was—and it was bad—the 2008 team managed to beat a team ranked in the top ten at the time. Even though Wisconsin turned out to be just a 7-6 team at season's end, that still tops anything the '34 team managed to do.


October 15th, 2018 at 3:54 PM ^

excuses? like every msu fan on the planet who wants to disregard  all games played before 2008 because they were dominated for 40 years so they have nothing to brag about. they call it ancient history. if you cant see the tide changing since harbaugh took over , you arnt paying attention. harbaugh could just as easy be 3-0 against msu. it's happening, just watch. soon 2008-2017 will be ancient history. 


October 15th, 2018 at 7:43 PM ^

This stuff goes in phases.  From 1950 through 1967 Michigan won only three of these games.  There were two ties.  Those were bleak years.  Unlike  most  rivalies, this one seems to be noted for long periods where one team seems to absolutely dominate.  And then the tables turn and the other team dominates for the next decade.  Let’s hope we’re launching a new era this Saturday.  I think I sense the nascent emergence of what Harbaugh has been building for the past 3 years.  I truly think we might be entering that new era where the tables are again turned.  


October 15th, 2018 at 2:56 PM ^

First of all, this is my first post since my timeout for making a crappy comment regarding Wisconsin.  It was a really stupid thing to post and I regret making it.  I am sorry, as it makes our fanbase look like a bunch of idiots.  I hope you all can look past it.  

As to MSU, my thought is that Dantonio is best when the other team believes that MSU sucks (DISRESPEKT) and they don't go for the kill early. In those games he gets his team to keep it close and then he breaks tendencies at the right time.  Think in 2015, the trouble with the snap play wasn't the key to the game, the misdirection and pass to the fullback was the turning point in the game.  He will have those plays set and ready to go.  The key will be to not let them keep the game close.  I feel if we get out to an early lead, they will have a hard time playing catch up on our pass D.  If we come in with an approach that we are just going to run the ball down their throat and embarrass them, they will likely be able to keep it close and then the trademarked Dantonio strategery will come into play. 


October 15th, 2018 at 2:57 PM ^

2011 they came out with cut blocking on their zone plays that led to a TD iirc.

Meanwhile in the Harbaugh era is overachieving by 13 ppg ATS. Their two 4 point wins came as 8 point dogs and they were +24 in a 9 point loss in 2016. 

Overall he is 11-0 ATS against Michigan, that almost mathematically impossible. If you don't think he doesn't overprepare for Michigan, I have some Florida swampland to sell you.