— It’s been nearly eight years since Drew Stanton played for Michigan State, but that hasn’t changed the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry for him.

Stanton, who plays quarterback in the NFL for the Arizona Cardinals, said he still feels connected to the game that always has been important to the Spartans, and he continues to live vicariously through his alma mater.

“I think part of me definitely does,” the quarterback said. “I was so wrapped up in it while I was there. When you move on, there’s much more important things in life than a football game. You can appreciate it, and I’ll watch the game on Saturday and be happy to watch Michigan State.”

Stanton never beat Michigan during his career, and that still stings.

“You don’t know how things are going to work out,” he said. “That game in particular is why I went to Michigan State and to never beat Michigan is difficult for me. … But at the same time you feel for the people on the sideline in Ann Arbor (Michigan is 3-4). I’ve been on that side. People’s livelihoods are at stake. That puts things in perspective.”

But that doesn’t mean Stanton won’t be pulling for his team today. It’s something that’s been easy to do these days considering the success Michigan State has had.

Last year’s Rose Bowl victory, Stanton said, was as big a deal for former players.

“The Rose Bowl was a huge benchmark for us alumni who always aspired to represent the Big Ten champions in the Rose Bowl,” he said. “That’s every kid’s dream in the Midwest. There’s not much I wouldn’t give to do that. It came to fruition, we all met out there and saw all of that. To see that shows how special college football is.”

Rose Bowl hero honored

Former linebacker Kyler Elsworth will be the honorary captain today, coach Mark Dantonio said Thursday.

“I think it’s always important that when you have an honorary captain that your players draw something from him,” Dantonio said. “In this case, he’s been in the soup, he’s been in these games. He’s shortly removed from our program, our players know him and there’s a respect factor there.”

Elsworth, in his only career start, made the decisive play in last season’s Rose Bowl victory, stopping Stanford fullback Ryan Hewitt on fourth-and-1 in the final minutes to secure the win.