MSU head coach Mark Dantonio talks about the Spartans' ball-security issues, as well as preparing for Iowa. Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News
East Lansing — There might not be a worse way to lose a football game than on the final play, with the clock going to 0:00 and the other team celebrating in the end zone.
Michigan State has been through it, against Iowa, no less.
And as the Hawkeyes get ready to face the Spartans on Saturday in the Big Ten opener for Michigan State, they’ll being doing so a week after losing to No. 4 Penn State as time expired. A huge upset was there for the taking, and just like that, the Nittany Lions were celebrating in Iowa City.
“One thing you know is probably, during the course of the year, you’ll experience some really exhilarating moments and some really gut-wrenching ones and everything in between,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said on Tuesday. “So, you’ve got to realize anything can happen on any given Saturday and you’ve got Sunday to mull it over, think about it, reflect, feel bad, whatever the emotion might be.
“But at some point you gotta put it behind you and by Monday start moving on or you’re probably losing ground to your opponent. That’s what it really gets down to and we talk to our guys about that all the time. We’ve talked about it and now we’ll see if we can handle it. Hopefully, we can.”
The Spartans have a unique perspective on the matter, as well, losing on the final play against Iowa in 2009 when quarterback Ricky Stanzi connected with Marvin McNutt for a 7-yard touchdown to give the Hawkeyes a 16-13 victory.
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said those types of losses are tough, but he doesn’t expect it to linger for the Hawkeyes.
“I would not use that as an excuse coming in here if that was our situation. I don't think I ever have,” Dantonio said. “I don't think teams have that mindset. I think they get ready to play the next game and they get ready to compete and that's what Iowa about will do. As far as when we lost games on the last play, it gut punches you, but you get up and play the next week.”
There’s a chance Iowa (3-1, 0-1) rallies around the crushing loss and uses it as motivation. Ferentz is hoping that’s how his team responds.
“That’s true about everything. You can use it to galvanize a team and pull them together or sometimes it works the other way,” Ferentz said. “I think that really depends on the team and what they choose to do with it. There’s those rare seasons when you don’t experience loss and boy, is that nice, but more often than not you’re going to have at least one or two or more than that, so I think it’s how you respond to good things or bad things. Had we own the game the other night that would have been a different set of circumstances to deal with.”
Check the watch
While Michigan gets to turn its focus to Michigan State a bit early with a bye this week, Michigan State is busy preparing to open Big Ten play on Saturday against Iowa.
And while there was plenty of buzz after the Monday announcement that the rivalry game Oct. 7 in Ann Arbor would be played in prime time under the lights, Dantonio was far more concerned on Tuesday about this week’s kickoff time.
“I’m just focused on the task at hand, really. Just focused on the present, so we’ll deal with that next week,” Dantonio said at his weekly news conference. “We’ve played at night in other places, so the lights are gonna come on. We’ve got to play, but I really haven’t looked at that I just noticed we’re playing at 7:30. More importantly, we’re playing at 4 (this week). That’s what’s most important this week.”
It’s the first time in the history of the series the game will be played at night, but first Michigan State welcomes in an Iowa team that is coming off a loss on the final play last week against Penn State.