Dantonio on UM game: ‘Yeah, we can win’

Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News
Mark Dantonio listens to a question during Tuesday's press conference in East Lansing.

East Lansing – Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio understands this reality:

Few people outside the Spartans locker room believe MSU has a chance on Saturday against Michigan. Only that doesn’t matter to Dantonio, even though his team is a 21.5-point underdog. 

“Can we win?” Dantonio asked at his weekly press conference on Tuesday. “Yeah, we can win. I firmly believe that. I know none of you do.”

Dantonio has good reason to believe his team can beat Michigan if he’s relying on history, considering Michigan State has won seven of the last eight and Dantonio’s record is 7-2 overall against the Wolverines. However, with Michigan unbeaten and Michigan State the loser of five straight heading into Saturday’s noon kickoff at Spartan Stadium, finding a way Michigan State can win is difficult.

Dantonio is banking on the importance of this game to his team.

“Ever since I came here I’ve never shied away from it – it’s always been an important game,” Dantonio said. “There’s a little more on that game than usual and that has never changed. The reality is when we’ve won we feel great about it. When you’ve lost, I don’t care if it’s by two points, it’s not as good. When you’re up 11 with seven minutes to go and lose it doesn’t feel very good.

“(Preparation for) this one is a bit more because it’s in-state and a rivalry game and means so much more to not just fans but the players who have played in it in the past. That is the overall general feeling (the teams) have for each other, that sense of love, or lack thereof.”

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Dantonio said he’s unsure of who will start at quarterback, saying it will again be a game-time decision. Redshirt freshman Brian Lewerke has started the past two games after fifth-year senior Tyler O’Connor started the first five.

Dantonio did not release a depth chart this week, explaining there were too many positions up in the air. He said it had nothing to do with the fact Michigan hasn’t released one all season.