The Spartan Legacy: Seniors Focused on Back-to-Back B1G Titles

The muffled sound of the Michigan State faithful grows louder and louder as the light at the end of the tunnel becomes larger. The image beyond the light is unclear at first, but slowly, the light transforms and it is suddenly crystal clear.

Green and white flood the entire stadium. The previous muffled noise is now 75,000 fans screaming. Half the stadium yelling “go green,” while the other half responds with “go white.” Butterflies are in the pit of the stomach. Excitement overtakes the body like a virus. Nothing can be done to calm the eager anticipation.

In a blink of an eye, smoke fills the air and the MSU marching band starts to play the fight song, “Victory for MSU.”

College football Saturday’s at Spartan Stadium hold the same beginning before every game and the thrill is still the same for a freshman or a senior.

However — the magnitude as a senior is a little different.

“Turn the minutes into moments. It is something you really have to cherish,” fifth-year senior quarterback Tyler O’Connor said. “Even going through camp, it is tough for everybody and it is not necessarily fun, but this year, it is different. You enjoy practices. You enjoy the time in between practices much more. You really do appreciate all of the grind.”

The countless hours spent on preparing for the season has Michigan State 1-0 after the Spartans defeated Furman last Friday night and with an unusual early bye week this upcoming Saturday, coach Mark Dantonio will have his players game ready on September 17th against Notre Dame.

“We have to maintain our game conditioning. So we’ve got to work hard this week,” Dantonio stated. “We won’t go live, but you have to work your players as if you had a game from the conditioning standpoint. We’re going to work hard doing that throughout the week.”

After week one, Michigan State sat at No. 12 according to the AP Top 25, but climbed to No. 8 in the Coaches Poll. With a win at South Bend the Spartans will potentially skyrocket in the polls. But more importantly, the confidence for the younger players will boost as well.

“Tyler O’Connor was probably a little nervous initially, but thought he played pretty well,” Dantonio said. “ [He had] three touchdown passes. I think he threw the ball effectively and threw the ball with velocity. He didn’t hold back, and played aggressively.”

The fifth-year senior looked comfortable in the pocket and found multiple receivers. Spreading the ball around with a young, but very talented perimeter group will help in the long run. Nevertheless, winning the turnover battle is an area Dantonio is concerned about.

“We have to hold on to the football,” Dantonio said. “We can’t have mistakes with the football in our hands at any point in the game and that’s priority number one. The ball was on the ground too often.”

Michigan State will have their hands full against Notre Dame as the Irish lead the head-to-head series 48-28-1. The Spartans will try to bring the Megaphone Trophy back to East Lansing since MSU has not won this rivalry game since 2010.

There is a lot of history between the two programs, including the 1966 bout which is also referred to as, “The Game of the Century.”

Teams are measured by rivalry and bowl wins. Players are measured by what they accomplished during their senior season. The senior class at Michigan State look to prove to the country how dominant they can be and how talented the program is. A victory over the Irish in their backyard would send a message to the Big Ten. as well as the country.

“The sweat, blood and tears I have put into the program,” senior wide receiver RJ Shelton said. “I want to go out the right way.”