Magnuson: Desire to avenge past defeats to MSU burns deep

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — This one is personal for Erik Magnuson. This one, in fact, is personal for all the Michigan upperclassmen.

Michigan has lost the last three to Michigan State — the fumbled snap in the last 10 seconds last season and Michigan State scoring the winning touchdown, and they were outscored 64-17 in 2013 and 2014 combined in Spartan Stadium.

The second-ranked Wolverines (7-0) are heading to East Lansing on Saturday to face Michigan State (2-5) and the upperclassmen are still smarting from what they called the “embarrassment” of their last two games there.

“Us older guys, we’ve been there, we’ve played there,” Magnuson, a fifth-year senior offensive lineman said Tuesday after practice. “We know what it feels like to get beat by them and get beat badly by them. So I think we have an extra edge going in there. A chip on our shoulder I didn’t have there as a redshirt freshman or a redshirt sophomore.”

Michigan lost 29-6 in 2013 and had 168 total yards of offense and minus-48 yards rushing after quarterback Devin Gardner was sacked seven times. The next year, also at Spartan Stadium, MSU won, 35-11, and outgained the Wolverines, 446-186. They rushed for only 61 yards and the offensive linemen got shoved around as they did the previous year.

“I remember being embarrassed,” Magnuson said of both games at MSU. “Last time we played there was overall embarrassing. We couldn’t run the ball. We had trouble pass protecting. That was embarrassing. The time before that was even more embarrassing. Those memories definitely stick in my head.

“Hard to leave the field without your head being down when you get dominated like that. Don’t ever want that to happen again.”

Toward the end of the 2014 game, the Spartans scored on a Jeremy Langford run with 28 seconds left. While safety Dymonte Thomas on Tuesday laughed off that late score as an almost understandable response from the Spartans after the Joe Bolden-led Wolverines drove a stake into the Spartan Stadium field before the game, defensive lineman Matt Godin is still simmering.

“Definitely a little bitter from it,” Godin said. “Anyone would be. Definitely bitter from last year, too. I was in a lot of those plays at the end (of 2014), so I felt very disrespected.

“I have that image in my head, and I’m thinking about it right now, and it’s not a good image.”

Magnuson and senior guard Kyle Kalis decided Tuesday to watch every Michigan-Michigan State game in which they’ve played.

“Just to remind myself what it could feel like if we don’t prepare the way we should,” Magnuson said. “So many times in the last three years we just didn’t do our job. Ten guys would, one guy wouldn’t.

“It was hard watching, but something I wanted to do. It was good for us.”

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On Monday night, Magnuson said the older linemen talked to the younger linemen to make certain of their focus.

“Some of the younger guys kind of take this season for granted,” he said. “They came in here and we’ve been winning ever since. They haven’t been through the downs we’ve been through, and the bad times kind of make you a little bit tougher.

“Us older guys definitely remember going in there two years ago and three years ago and getting embarrassed. Even last year was heartbreaking. We try to remind them that just because we’re 7-0 doesn’t mean they’re going to lay down and give it to us. They want probably more than anyone else to beat us for many reasons, so we’ve got to go in there and execute and play as tough as we’ve ever played.”

The players said no one is throwing around words like revenge or disrespect or embarrassing this week in practice. They’re No. 2 in the country because, as quarterback Wilton Speight said Tuesday night, they’ve been wearing blinders and are focused on how to get better and how to win.

But Magnuson and Godin and some of the other upperclassmen clearly are motivated by what they’ve experienced during their careers against Michigan State.

“You get sick of getting beat up,” Magnuson said. “Like the kid on the playground that gets beat up all the time, eventually you’re going to get sick of it. You’ve got to get personal sometimes, and stand up for yourself.”