December 17, 2013

Rose Bowl a statement opportunity for MSU

EAST LANSING - Michigan State (12-1) has had the Rose Bowl at the top of its bucket list from Mark Dantonio's first day as head coach.

Simply getting to Pasadena, however, isn't good enough for the Big Ten champions.

"Winning the Big Ten Championship is something that we've pointed to, dreamed about for quite some time," said Dantonio. "Now we need to go and win in a bowl game."

Michigan State has won consecutive bowl games under Dantonio, beating SEC Divisional champion Georgia in Outback Bowl two years ago, before rallying to beat TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings to gain some much-needed momentum following a 2012 season defined by close losses.

Winning a third straight bowl game would give Michigan State a momentum surge entering the off-season.

"We're up there, and we want to show that we deserve to be up there," said Dantonio. "So it's very important. You're on a big stage, you get to the championship, and you're on a big stage. While we took care of business there and we showed that we belonged on that stage. Now it's important to show that we belong on this national stage.

"I heard today there's only one football team that's won more than 13 games in the Big Ten's history, and that was the 2002 championship team at Ohio State which won 14. There's never been another team that's won 13. So there is an opportunity to do something that hasn't been done in 105 years from what I understand what was said.

"So these opportunities don't come around much. You've got to win 12 more to get to 13. So you'd have to win 12 more next year to get to 13. We're a lot closer right now than we would be next year. So it's an opportunity to step up and show who we are. It's an opportunity to do our thing there. So we're just excited about it. I think our players are. Again, it will be a great challenge versus Stanford, and they're a proven football team. But we'll bring our guys out and see what happens."

Pac-12 champion Stanford (11-2) is making its fourth consecutive trip to a BCS Bowl. The Cardinal is the defending Rose Bowl champion.

"You look at Stanford right now and they're a football team that's been in four straight, I think, four straight BCS games, so they've been to that mountain a little bit," said Dantonio. "They've been there. This is new for us.

"I think that the most important thing that we have to do when we move to L.A. here a week plus from now is to handle success. That will be our mindset as we move forward and need to be ready to play and play with a lot of energy and those type of things. So it will be another tremendous challenge for us, but another great opportunity."

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