Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio talks about what went wrong in a 48-3 loss to Ohio State. Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News
Columbus, Ohio — Expectations can sometimes change as seasons progress, and this has been one of those for Michigan State.
Just reaching a bowl game might have been a logical aspiration before the season started, but as the wins began to pile up and the Spartans knocked off Penn State last week, the possibility of winning the Big Ten East had become a reality, far from the long-shot it seemed to be back in September.
And when No. 12 Michigan State traveled to Ohio Stadium on Saturday to take on No. 13 Ohio State, the winner would be in the driver’s seat in the East with a spot in the Big Ten Championship game the likely prize.
So, after the Buckeyes dismantled the Spartans, 48-3, in front of a crowd of 107,011, the obvious question was, where does a young Michigan State team go from here?
“What’s your response? What’s our response?” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said when asked what his message was to the team after the game. “These are life moments for all of us. Life isn’t always gonna be the best. You’ll have disappointments in life and you have to handle them.
“We’ve had them. We’ve had them before, so you get back on the horse. So, let’s go and see where we end up. I still think we’ve got a good football team and we’ll find out more about ourselves next week. We just regroup. Adjust and regroup.”
The Spartans (7-3, 5-2 Big Ten) will get the chance to do that next week at home against Maryland before closing the season on the road against Rutgers.
They’ll likely be favored in both games and will have a chance to finish the season with nine victories, a six-win improvement from a season ago.
“We want to win next week so we’ll come out (prepared) for next week,” safety Khari Willis said. “We’ll all be prepared for Maryland. We want to win against Maryland and Rutgers, but we’ve got to win the next game and preparation will start as soon as possible.”
Next week’s game will be the final home game for seniors, including center Brian Allen and linebacker Chris Frey. Both said Saturday they want to go out on a winning note
“There’s a lot to learn from this,” Frey said. “We’ll go back, watch the film and learn from the mistakes. We’ve got to put the past in the past quickly. We’ll learn from the mistakes and get ready for next week. It’s senior day and my last game at Spartan Stadium and I’m excited for it.”
And if the Spartans look down the road and look at Saturday’s loss as a step in the learning process for a team heavily dependent on young players, then it won’t be a total loss.
“There’s always value in every experience you have,” Dantonio said, “no matter how negative it can become. There’s gonna be value in that if you learn from it
“So, we’re gonna learn from every experience our guys have. Some of it’s you just got to play better, too, and we’ll learn our lessons in that area.”
Michigan State's Brian Allen, Brian Lewerke, Joe Bachie and Khari Willis talk about the 48-3 loss to Ohio State. Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News
Redshirt freshman quarterback Messiah deWeaver saw his first action as Spartan, coming during the fourth quarter after Michigan State gained a first down at the Ohio State 14.
It didn’t go terribly well as deWeaver was sacked three times in four plays.
“I thought Messiah deWeaver needed an opportunity to play a little bit,” Dantonio said. “He has not played in a game in nine games. Prior to that series I said, ‘Let’s get Messiah in there.’ We wanted to give him an opportunity to play. Even though it didn’t go as well as we wanted it do, he had some snaps and has some film to see what it’s like.”
Junior cornerback Tyson Smith wore No. 19 to honor sophomore Josh Butler, who missed the game to attend his father’s funeral in Texas.
… Freshman defensive end Jacub Panasiuk was injured in the second half and favored his right leg while walking off the field. Redshirt freshman
defensive tackle Mufi Hill-Hunt was see riding off the field on a cart at the end of the game.
… Redshirt freshman tight end Noah Davis returned to action after missing the last two games. Junior defensive end Dillon Alexander also returned after missing last week’s game.