November 8, 2011

MSU 'focused on getting it done'

EAST LANSING - Some coaches downplay the importance of big games. Some coaches play them up.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz chose to downplay the potential significance of a victory over Michigan State during his press conference on Tuesday. If the Hawkeyes were to beat the Spartans at home in Kinnick Stadium this weekend and follow with back-to-back road wins against Purdue and Nebraska they would earn a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis on Dec. 2.

"We're really not worried about division standings right now or Big Ten standings," Ferentz said. "I mean, a week ago it didn't look like we were going to a Bowl game to a lot of people. We're nine days removed right now from not getting it done on the game field, and that's kind of where we're at as a team right now, so we need just to really try to worry about a good opponent coming in here and see if we can play a good game because that's really what's important for us right now is trying to play well. If we don't play well, it'll be a tough day, I know that. This is a really good team."

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio has made it clear that his team is focused on playing for a Big Ten Championship. At 4-1 in the Legends Division, the Spartans understand that three wins in three weeks gets them to Indianapolis.

"I think if you play well enough to get yourself in the thick of things coming into November, you've got a great case and you've got a lot of opportunities in front of us," said Dantonio. "You've got a lot of things to play for, and that's what we're looking at ... Sunday they were excited. You know, this is what you play for. Right down the line, we'll play this one, then the next one will be important. Then the last one will be important.

"But we've got everything in sight, and our goals are in sight, and that is a positive thing. Again, our goal right now is to play 14. Even though we're going to a Bowl game, at this point, the fifth straight year we're going to a Bowl game. Just a matter of where. But if we can play 14, we know we've at least won this division, and we have an opportunity to play for the Rose Bowl. And that is our challenge."

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