Dantonio dubs final play ‘Rangers: Mission 4:10’

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — As noteworthy as the record Mark Dantonio has compiled in his time at Michigan State has been, the names for his memorable plays have been just as entertaining.

There have been some dandies over the years, including “Little Giants,” “Mousetrap,” and “Charlie Brown.” Those were all trick plays, the most memorable being “Little Giants” when Michigan State beat Notre Dame on a fake field goal in overtime in 2010.

And each of those plays were planned. They had a call going in.

What transpired Saturday at Michigan Stadium had no plan. There was no call, only a special-teams unit: Rangers.

That crew produced what is now one of the most memorable plays in college football, Jalen Watts-Jackson returning a fumbled punt 38 yards on the final play of the game in a 27-23 victory over Michigan.

Dantonio tried to come up with a name for the play to match some of the others. On Tuesday, he revealed his decision.

“Rangers: Mission 4:10.”

“We were saying all week that mental is to physical as four is to one; that you had to be four times mentally tougher than you were physically tough,” Dantonio said. “And inevitably, it was going to come down to a mental game. They were going to make some plays. We were going have to handle adversity, we were going to have to handle the crowd, weather a storm or be the storm, one of the two. We were going to have to be able to do that. So that was where the 4-1 came in.

“The 10 seconds obviously comes in at the back end, with the last 10 seconds of the game. But it also comes in on the front end because we sat on that bus for 10 extra seconds because I wanted to make sure our players understood the size of this game, the bigness of this particular game, the impact it will have not only on them at that point in time but on their entire lives. And so that’s where the 4-10 comes in.”