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Harbaugh: Dantonio’s coaching among best in history

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor – Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has nothing but high praise for Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio.

Second-ranked Michigan will face Michigan State, 2-5 and winless in the Big Ten this season, on Saturday at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans have won seven of the last eight meetings, including the 27-23 stunner last season on a fumbled Michigan punt in the final seconds of the game.

“He’s done a great job,” Harbaugh said of Dantonio during Monday's weekly news conference. “One of the best college football coaching jobs in the history of the game. At the highest level.”

Harbaugh, whose team has gone 12-1 since that loss to Michigan State last season, will not diminish the capabilities of the Spartans despite the fact they have dropped their last five games this year.

“It doesn’t matter what’s happened before this week for us or for an opponent,” Harbaugh said. “It never does. It matters what happens on the game day.

“We know the task in front of us. We know the challenge. It’s up to us to get prepared to play that game so we go out there confident and execute and have a chance to be successful. They’re a very good football team. We know we’ll be tough to beat and they’ll be tough to beat.”

Henning: Harbaugh cautious now, but wait until Saturday

Harbaugh also cautioned Monday that it’s too early for his team to “take a victory lap” despite ascending to the No. 2 national ranking with a defense ranked No. 1 in nearly every category.

His players agree with the approach.

“It’s not something that really even needs to be said,” said senior tight end Jake Butt, a co-captain. “We’re not patting ourselves on the back. It goes back to, this is where we wanted to be and where we expected to be, in all honesty, and I say that in a humble way just because of the way we worked this offseason, the way we prepared, we’ve got a great coaching staff, great leadership.

“Even the guys on the scout team are doing an unbelievable job of giving us great looks week in and week out, allowing us to execute at such a high level on Saturday. There’s a lot of football left to be played. We know it as well as anybody that anything can happen in this sport. We’re not taking anything for granted.”

And if they need a reminder, all they have to do is look back to the finish of last season’s Michigan-Michigan State game.