Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Big Ten Play Frustrating for Spartans

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Big Ten Play Frustrating for Spartans

Article excerpt

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio had never experienced four consecutive games that were decided in the closing seconds. And if he never again has to go through the frustrations of the past month, he won't miss it.

A 28-24 loss to Nebraska was the latest dagger for the Spartans (5-5, 2-4 Big Ten), who have dropped four league games by a total of 10 points.

Michigan State, heading into its off week, is 3-4 in games decided by four points or less this season.

"With a little this or a little that at the end, a different call or a different decision by a coach, maybe by me ... " Dantonio said Tuesday. "If I go fourth-and-2 [vs. Nebraska], and we get that one or I go fourth-and-1 on Michigan, maybe we win. Maybe we don't. I don't know."

There are no easy answers when a team is picked No. 13 in the preseason and seen as one of the favorites to return to the Big Ten championship game, then has to revise its goals before Election Day.

Still, Dantonio wouldn't say his team is struggling. He pointed to being a couple of plays away from title contention for the third year in a row, instead of battling to be bowl-eligible a sixth consecutive time.

"To me, struggling is cashing it in," Dantonio said. "You lose a close game, to me, that's not struggling. That's the game. That's people making plays. That's inches away. We're inches away from being 9-1, 8-2 -- inches, seconds. We've rallied back every week and played and played hard. So I wouldn't say that we're struggling."

With six conferences games decided by a total of 17 points, less than a field goal per week, Michigan State knows it can play with anyone.

"Life's not fair. It's just not," Dantonio said of a string of injuries and tough officials calls. "So why worry about it? Just keep on going, doing what you're doing, and things will even out."

Cincinnati

Coach Butch Jones is open to switching quarterbacks for Cincinnati's next game at Temple. Jones reiterated that incumbent Munchie Legaux and backup Brendon Kay will compete for the job in practice this week. …

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