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December 3, 2013

Max Bullough

Q.  If we could go to practice, how would practice look different this week than any other week if at all?
MAX BULLOUGH:  You know, when I think of practice this week, I haven't done it yet, but it reminds me of similar to Michigan week.  There's a different intensity about it, a different feel about it.  There's a couple more fights or whatever it is, whatever you want to call it.  It's just a different intensity about it, just a different feel about it, and it's hard to explain and put in words.
But there's that, and we're going to be live, I guess, on the quarterback, so that's going to be a little bit different than normal.  But that's good.  That's something that we've done in the past against other teams that have similar type of offenses and it's done well for us.  We'll be live out there today.

Q.  Can you go through what the week of preparation is going to be like from a timing standpoint?  Obviously an 8:00 game is a little different than some of the other things, and you guys like to keep a rhythm.  How do you prepare for that time change?
MAX BULLOUGH:  In terms of the week of practice, it's pretty much the same.  It's pretty much we do our normal 2:00 meetings, we're here until 6:00, 7:00, whatever it is.  Really the only difference is walk‑throughs and meetings and stuff on Friday are sometimes pushed to Saturday during the day to kind of keep us busy and keep us from sitting around all day.  So in terms of the timing of it all, we've been there before.  We know what it's like.  We've played 8:00 games numerous times each other except this year it seems like, but we'll just do our thing this week and we're ready to go.

Q.  You probably have a better sense of what winning the league and going to the Rose Bowl would mean to the program than almost anyone on the team.  Can you talk about that, and is that something you will address with the guys?
MAX BULLOUGH:  It's everything.  That's what we talk about.  I keep getting asked this question, and it's what we talk about in winter conditioning, it's what we talk about in summer conditioning, in spring ball, in camp, all those things that you‑‑ in reality you don't want to do, all those hard things, all the stuff that makes college football‑‑ making those sacrifices, that's what makes college football hard, and that's kind of the goal and the vision and what you talk about every day in order to get through those things.  We haven't been there in a long time, so it's kind of a neat thing for us to have the opportunity to make all those things we talk about every time we put our hand up, whatever it is, all those signs on the wall Coach D has, to make that a tangible feeling, to be able to feel that feeling and know what it's like, to be able to say I've done it, to say we brought Michigan State back to where we think it should be, I think that just creates, like I said, a tangible goal instead of just a dream or a vision that's out in front of you all the time.

Q.  You've talked quite a bit already about the difference in Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde last year to this year.  What about their offensive line and just their overall execution of that system?  Do you see a very different offense when you look at them on film?
MAX BULLOUGH:  I think any time you have a new coaching staff like Coach Urban Meyer and his staff came in there last year, you're going to have some difficulties, you're going to have some things that are hard.  You're going to have some things that guys might not necessarily agree with what's going on or they don't like playing the new type of offense, all that's gone.  If there was any of that last year, even though they went undefeated, it's gone now.  Those guys know how to play the offense.  They understand it; they're confident in it, whether that's Braxton or Carlos or their whole offensive line, whatever it is.  The biggest thing I see is they're just confident.  They've bought into what the system is.  They know it's worked in the past.  You see that.  And they're confident they can do it, and whenever you're confident in something and you know it's going to work, you trust the guy next to you, you're going to be better.  That's why their defense has been so good the last couple years.

Q.  Do you see a different pace than last year?
MAX BULLOUGH:  You know, going back to it, I think they're just more comfortable being able to change pace at certain times.  They're not a very extremely fast offense.  They like to have some fast balls here and there in some key situations, but they really do what they do.  They like to see what the defense is in and use the coach's help to figure out what to do.

Q.  You're a team that plays with an edge, plays with a chip, whatever you want to call it.  Does all the talk about Ohio State, BCS, 24‑0, Urban Meyer, do you guys feel a little bit overlooked?  Does that fuel anything for you guys heading into this game?
MAX BULLOUGH:  You know, I don't really care if we're overlooked to be honest with you.  I think we've been overlooked, underrated, all this stuff in football, basketball, for years.  From my perspective, I'm a Michigan State football player, so I'm going to think that way.
I'm just worried about whatwe ‑‑ we win this game and we're going to be talking about Michigan State is going to the Rose Bowl the right way, not the back door.  They're the Big 10 champs outright.
That's what we're worried about.  We're worried about going there and being 12‑1 like Coach D said, and worrying about things we can control.  We can't control who talks about what, who says this or that, where Ohio State goes if they win or lose.  There's only so many things we can control, and right now it's Tuesday's practice.  On Saturday it'll be the energy and the aggressiveness and the way that we execute plays.

Q.  Do you not even want to hear about the back door Rose Bowl possibility?
MAX BULLOUGH:  No.  To me I don't even want to talk about it.  I want to go to Indianapolis and win the game and go to the Rose Bowl the right way.  To me the Big 10 championship‑‑ the Rose Bowl is the goal because to get there usually you have to win the Big 10 championship.  That's what it is to me personally.  The Rose Bowl in my mind isn't the ultimate goal.  The ultimate goal is the Rose Bowl because you won the Big 10.  That's how I look at it.

Q.  Can you address what kind of a swagger Coach D has put in this program from standing up to Mike Hart and Michigan five years ago to when you were 4‑1 he said if we're 11‑1 we'll be top 10, to this week it's why not us?
MAX BULLOUGH:  When you talk about swagger, to me swagger and confidence go hand in hand, and that's something that‑‑ that's how we feel internally because of Coach D, because he's brought players that are like that in here.  He's instilled that in us every single day in team meetings.  I'm very similar to Coach D in that aspect.  Every time he comes up here and says something like that, it gives me chills.  I'm similar in that way.
You look at a football coach and he comes here every day and he does all the film and all the work, and for Michigan State, and that's what he's worried about.  That's what our coaches are worried about, that's what our players are worried about, so it's hard to take a backseat sometimes when it comes to things that are going on outside that aren't really in our control and we're doing all the right things.  So I think that's where some of that edginess out of Coach D comes from because we're doing all the right things.

Q.  (No microphone.)
MAX BULLOUGH:  Oh, I love it.  I love it.  Maybe even too much sometimes, but I love it.  You know, I think, like I said, the swagger and confidence are the same thing to me, and we're definitely a confident football team right now, and that's the way we play.

Q.  Kind of building off of that, 40 wins I think in your four years here, three 11‑win seasons.  How much do you think the perception of this program has changed during your time to where it is right now?
MAX BULLOUGH:  I hope a lot.  I don't think it's changed as much as I think it's changed in my head, listening to some of the stuff that's still said about us.  But it's definitely changed.  It's definitely taken on ‑‑ people look at Michigan State differently today than when I walked in here and when Coach D walked in here.  There's just a different way about it, and it's similar to the way it was back when we were winning a bunch of games in the '60s and stuff like that.  I think you come to play Michigan State now, I can't speak to when I wasn't here, I can't speak for 10 years ago when I was a kid watching, but I think if you come to play Michigan State now, if nothing else you're coming for a fight.  You're playing a football game that's going to be a fight, going to be a battle.  We're not going to quit.  We've got some of the best players in the country on this football team, and we're excited to be a part of that.

Q.  Coach was saying if you guys win you're 12‑1, why not us in terms of the national picture.  Is that how you guys feel, that you should be recognized right there, one of the top two or three teams in the country?
MAX BULLOUGH:  Well, he also said that there's some things that have to happen, some other teams have‑‑ when you look at Auburn they've had an outstanding season, too, just beating Alabama.  There's a lot of other teams that have done their part, too.  In terms of getting to this game, yeah, absolutely if we win that game we should be talked about.  Not saying we should be in the National Championship if something doesn't happen, I'm saying we should be talked about among all those groups.  If we come out and win this Saturday, then why not.  Why not talk about us?  What have we not done that takes us out of that argument?  We've won just as many games.
You talk about who we've played, what we play, we play in the Big 10 Conference.  Let's not forget that.  You can talk about the SEC, whatever, ACC, whatever you want.  We play in the Big 10 Conference with elite football players that go to the NFL every year, some of the best coaches in the country, and we play some of the best offenses in the country.  We just make them look bad sometimes, so they might not think they're that great.  That's the reality behind it.  You know?

Q.  Every year when you guys play Iowa, you say it's a smashmouth game, intense.  How would you characterize this game and the way it's gone the past couple years and sort of how these two teams feel about one another?
MAX BULLOUGH:  Very similar.  When you think about Ohio State, you think‑‑ first thing that comes to my mind is physical.  No matter who the coaches, no matter what offense they're running, no matter what they're doing, they're going to be a physical football team.  They have big guys on the offensive line.  They take pride in being able to be a physical football team.
And secondly is emotions.  A lot of people don't understand how many people from Ohio we have on our football team.  When that emotion was the highest, it was two years ago when we went to Ohio State.  I think being in the home state and doing all that stuff, that was unbelievable.  That was just as much emotion I can say as when we play Michigan here, just because we had so many guys.  So many of our key players, our leaders that were affected by the game for whatever reason.  I don't really care to go into it.  I don't really know anyways, I just liked them having energy.
But like I said, it's physical and it's an emotional game, and that's what I always expect when we play Ohio State.  They're one of the dominant programs in the country.

Q.  What do you remember about the mood like in the locker room and on the field after the 2011 loss, the Wisconsin game?  I think it was Denicos saying that he saw people cry that he never thought he would see cry and that was kind of a telling quote.  Do you plan on talking to the younger guys that weren't with you about the experience and what it was like, about how big the moment is?
MAX BULLOUGH:  I think they understand the moment.  It kind of goes being unsaid going against a team like Ohio State in the Big 10 championship game.  College Gameday is going to be there.  There's implications all across the BCS on who wins that game.  So I think that goes without being said, and I think if they don't know that yet, they'll know today at practice.  We can be 15 weeks in and we're tackling Damion Terry, who's a pretty good quarterback, they'll understand that.
And Denicos said exactly what I was saying when I heard you guys ask him that question; there was people crying that I never thought I'd see cry.  It was just unbelievable.
And to me, I was a sophomore, so I didn't‑‑ to me it wasn't the end of the road.  To me it was we'll be back here next year.  Let's just win next year or the next year.
So to see the way those players reacted, I've never seen anything like it.  I've never seen a game affect so many people‑‑ I've lost to Michigan before, and I don't know if I've ever seen a single game affect so many amount of‑‑ the amount of players that it did, so negatively.  Even for a week after that game, usually you get over the game after a couple days at the most, even for a week I remember guys like Kirk Cousins were still down, still hurting about it.  We were able to come back and play well against Georgia and kind of salvage that feeling a little bit.

Q.  (No microphone.)
MAX BULLOUGH:  Well, really the only thing I really remember after the game is just talking to Isaiah.  He's my classmate, my teammate, one of my good buddies, and really I think he kind of thought it was all on him after the game.  We were back in Indianapolis, playing in his hometown, and he gets that penalty.  So I think he really took that hard, at least right away, right after the game.  I remember talking to him, I remember saying whatever I said.  I don't really remember what I said.  I just remember going up to him and feeling obligated to talk to him, feeling obligated to make him understand that it was absolutely in no way his fault we lost the game.  Coach D trusted him as a young football player.  It was Coach D's call to go and block the punt.  He blocks that punt, Isaiah is a hero and Coach D is the best coach ever.  So the fact that he had that trust, whichever way it went, that just describes the type of player Isaiah is, and now we know that.

Q.  There's a valid perception out there that this is a conference that strongly favors Ohio State for some of their actions in the past; letting suspended players play in the Sugar Bowl and not suspending the guy for the actions Saturday.  Is there a concern with this team that you're not only facing‑‑ you not only have to beat the Buckeyes but you've got to beat the conference, as well, because it means so much for this league to get Ohio State into the BCS title game?
MAX BULLOUGH:  First of all, I'm excited that no one is suspended.  I hope no one does get suspended.  I want to play their best.  I think if we were in that same situation they'd say the same.  I think you always want to play the best.  Like I said, we want to put ourselves in the biggest games against the best players against the best offense against the best defense, so that's something I'm looking forward to.
And like I said, it goes back to things I can't control.  I can't control who likes who, who wants what, who votes for who, who's voted All‑Big 10, who's voted this, I can't control that.  I just can't.  I can control what I do today at practice, I can control what I say to my team or what my actions are during the weekend and on Saturday, and it's been good enough 11 times this year, so I'm counting on it being good enough again.

Q.  You talked about how negative that feeling was two years ago, and you couldn't imagine what you saw afterward.  Can you imagine the same thing only the exact opposite, the positive?  Can you imagine how positive that will be?
MAX BULLOUGH:  You know, probably not.  I probably can't imagine it.  On the flipside I've been a part of some pretty cool wins, too, whether it's a last‑second win or a win over a big opponent or whatever it is.  Those have been feelings that have been unbelievable.  That's also why you play the game, to have the game come down to the end and you make a play and they don't make a play.  That's definitely a feeling I haven't felt.
We won the Big 10 championship in 2010 but it was split, so for me I don't take away anything from that team at all.  We won the Big 10 championship for the first time in a long time, and that's the hardest thing to do, I think, is to get back after a while.  But it's‑‑ I think I've experienced a certain level of joy after things like the rocket play in the Notre Dame game.  I'm hoping this one is one level bigger.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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