College Park, Md.— For a solid week, Michigan State's players and coaches have had to face the task of moving on after what can only be described as a devastating loss.
Last week's 49-37 defeat to Ohio State was difficult enough because the Buckeyes dominated most of the game. But on a bigger scale, the loss essentially ended any hope the Spartans would be able to meet their ultimate goals.
That means no College Football Playoff and no return to the Big Ten championship game.
For some teams, that would be enough to derail the season. It certainly was the case at Michigan State prior to Mark Dantonio's arrival. But under Dantonio, the Spartans have shown a resolve bouncing back from difficult defeats.
They promise today at Maryland will be no different.
"It's just another chip on our shoulder," sophomore left tackle Jack Conklin said. "Just knowing what we left out there, that burns and you'll see an angry team coming out in this game."
Recent history shows that hardly would be a surprise.
■ In 2007, following the "Little Brother" game — a 28-24 loss to Michigan — Michigan State won its final two games to become bowl eligible in Dantonio's first season.
■ In 2008, Michigan State was unbeaten in the Big Ten and riding a six-game winning streak when it was trounced 45-7 by Ohio State. Michigan State went to Michigan the next week and won on the road in the series for the first time in 18 years and went on to win its next two games.
■ In 2010, Michigan State was 8-0 and ranked No. 5 before getting blown out at Iowa, 37-6. Instead of folding, Michigan State won its final three games to capture a share of the Big Ten title, its first since 1990.
■ In 2011, Michigan State lost to Wisconsin, 42-39, in the Big Ten championship game. A few weeks later, Michigan State beat Georgia, 33-30 in triple overtime, in the Outback Bowl.
■In 2012, Michigan State followed home losses to Nebraska and Northwestern by beating Minnesota on the road to become bowl eligible before knocking off TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
"You have to gain something from everything," Dantonio explained. "You have to gain something from a loss. ... You have to understand, 'OK, these things didn't work, these things did. How did we respond? Who are your leaders, how did your leaders respond? How did I respond?' "
While Michigan State's game against Maryland might not mean much in terms of this year's Big Ten race, it can have a lasting effect on a program that has established itself as a national contender.
Ohio State would have to lose two of its final three games and Michigan State would have to win out for a flip in the standings. Still, the Spartans have a shot at a fourth 10-win season in five years and a potential spot in one of the four bowls not being used for the College Football Playoff semifinals.
"Everyone has had a great attitude," quarterback Connor Cook said. "Win or lose, we celebrate a win for 24 hours or lament a loss for 24 hours. At a certain point you put it behind you and I think guys have done that."