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December 7, 2013
Michigan State Â– 34
Ohio State Â– 24
THE MODERATOR:Â We'll ask Coach Dantonio to make an opening statement.
COACH DANTONIO:Â Just very, very proud of our football team.Â Again, I thought we showed resiliency as a team.Â It's a goal that we pointed to since coming here in 2007.
I want to thank all the players that helped make this happen as we drove towards this end time.Â Especially I want to thank our senior group.Â We're a 12‑1 football team, they've won their 41st game as a group.
The game itself, I thought we started fast.Â Had emotion on our side.Â Ohio State started to battle back.Â Really the second quarter, third quarter, then the third quarter was theirs.Â We needed to find ourselves.Â I thought we did that.
Very happy we're going back to Pasadena.Â Want to thank everybody that's helped make this happen, from our administration, to our athletic director, Mark Hollis, and our president, Lou Anna Simon.Â I want to thank our players, they made it happen.Â They're believers.
THE MODERATOR:Â Questions.
Q.Â Mark, could you talk about your team's commitment to the game plan even through that 24‑point run Ohio State had.
COACH DANTONIO:Â We stayed the course.Â We were having a tough time running the football.Â Again, pretty much like it's been all season long, we just sort of battle, battle, battle.Â Towards the end of the game, Jeremy Langford will bust one.
I thought Connor Cook threw the ball very, very well.Â Had some big throws in the third quarter to Macgarrett Kings and Josiah Price for the touchdown.Â Threw the ball very effectively all along the way, just kept playing.
Just a great job by our football team.
But we stayed with the plan.Â Obviously, always have to adjust and alter things.Â I thought defensively once they got to 24, we sort of stiffened.Â We had the kick that we tried.Â Didn't get it.Â We had to hold them there.Â Then we had the blocked punt.Â Had to hold them again.Â We were able to do that.Â Big plays in the game.
Q.Â Mark, after the blocked punt, four and out.Â There's a lot of heroes.Â But the play after the blocked punt.
COACH DANTONIO:Â Big play by Denicos.Â We knew that on fourth down they were going to put it in Braxton Miller's hands and give him a run‑pass option or sweep right or left with him.Â That's what they did.
Great play on the other side of the field.Â I couldn't see it clearly.Â Obviously we got some penetration.Â Guys made the play around it.Â Made the stop.
Not easy to do.Â Braxton Miller is an outstanding player.Â They have an outstanding football team.
Q.Â Coach, where did you see things break down defensively that allowed Ohio State to get back in the game?
COACH DANTONIO:Â The loose plays.Â Big scramble by Miller a couple times.Â But especially early I guess in the second quarter when we were up 17‑zip.Â Scramble down the right sideline.Â Loose plays, ones he created.Â We didn't get there on a blitz.Â He hit a seam route.
I thought he threw the ball well.Â I thought the ball was on target.Â I think some of our guys made outstanding plays on some of those balls throughout the game, as they have all year.
Q.Â Mark, can you come out of football mode for a second and think about you made history for Michigan State.Â What are your thoughts about making history?
COACH DANTONIO:Â I'm really just so, so happy.Â My dad used to always say, Complete your circles.Â I thought we did that.Â I thought that's what we did.Â I never get too excited.Â I don't ever get too down.Â I live for my players.Â Our players, I'm so happy for them.Â They made a lifetime moment tonight for all of us ‑ all of us had that moment, our fans, our players.Â It will be a moment that we'll never forget.
That's why you coach.Â Inevitably to me that's why you coach.Â You're a competitor, all that kind of stuff, but you have to look to bring dreams to fruition.Â I think we did that tonight.
We've been talking about it, so many things we talk about, so many different ways we get there.Â I told them back at the banquet last year because we were so close that they would be the ones, they would be the ones.Â To sit up here knowing that right now is almost surreal.
Q.Â Connor, what did it feel like for you and your teammates to hear so often this week that the Big Ten was weak other than Ohio State?
CONNOR COOK:Â I think we've heard people talk bad about us all year.Â This wasn't the first week where we heard people saying negative things about us as an offense or us as a football team.
I think we were underdogs in the majority of games we played this year.Â It really didn't affect us in any way, shape or form.Â We just go in with the same mindset every week.Â We want to go 1‑0.Â We know the defense is going to do their job.Â If it's up to us as an offense to score 28 points or more, we feel we can come away with the win.
Q.Â Coach, can you touch on being the first team in Michigan State history to reach 12 wins.
COACH DANTONIO:Â Well, there's not a lot of teams that reach 12 wins, I guess I'd say.Â I don't feel that uncommon.Â It's difficult to do.
I really can't put it into words.Â I'm just so happy for our football team.Â We're 12‑1.Â That's goal number two down.Â The ultimate goal for me is being 13‑1.
We'll look to win our bowl game.Â Keep working in that direction.Â Usually your work is never finished.Â You grind another one out.Â We're going to live this one for a while.Â We'll live it for a month.Â It's important we finish what we started, and that will end with the bowl game.
Q.Â Connor, after they stormed back 24 straight points, you came back with a drive.Â Long run by Langford.Â How important was that drive to reset things?Â Max, you guys on defense, to answer their 24‑point run.
CONNOR COOK:Â To answer your question about the offense and the drive, anytime you can get a long drive like that, you're making big plays in the run game, it instills confidence in you, makes you want to make bigger plays.
Really it just helps you out regaining their confidence when a team goes on and scores 24 points, whatever it was.
COACH DANTONIO:Â I really think, too, that drive in the third quarter for that field goal to cut it to I guess 24‑20 got the momentum back going our way.Â I think that was the turning point.Â We needed to have a drive.Â We needed to come down the field.Â We needed to get some points because we had not since early in the second quarter, I believe.
That was the ultimate.
DARQUEZE DENNARD:Â Just playing our game.Â Wasn't playing with energy.Â Wasn't playing with emotion.Â We just looked at each other on the sidelines and said, We got to believe in each other.Â Have to play that Spartan defense like we've been playing for this whole season.
We did it.Â We believed in each other.Â Connor and them did a great job managing the ball.Â It was just a great team effort.
Defense just came out, no stopping them.
MAX BULLOUGH:Â Just what Coach D said.Â A chance to reset ourselves, switch the momentum of the game.Â Anytime you have two teams that have had so much success this year in the championship game, there's going to be swings in momentum, plays made on both sides of the ball.
There was a moment when they took the energy out of our defense or we took it out, whatever it may be.Â We needed to get our swag back, whether that was the offense having a long drive or us making a big play.Â Those are the things you have to do, those are things that championship teams do.Â That's what we did.
Q.Â Connor, after you took a 17‑0 lead, what did you see Ohio State do defensively to stop you?
CONNOR COOK:Â I think they started to blitz a lot more.Â When we jumped out, got 17 points on the board early, we were moving the ball.Â They felt they wanted to pressure us.
The main things they did differently was they just blitzed a lot more.
Q.Â On the last touchdown, what were your thoughts?Â Why did it work?Â Talk about the resiliency of the offensive line.
COACH DANTONIO:Â First of all, our coaches do an outstanding job conceptually.Â Plays don't usually work unless you have great mindset, enthusiasm.Â The game turned.Â With that stop, us up by 3, all of a sudden the game turned.Â We needed to grind it out.Â That's exactly what started to happen.Â I think there were 3 minutes, 2:20, something of that nature, we just started grinding it out.
All of a sudden I think we saw the light at the end of the tunnel.Â We've done that before throughout every game.Â Langford again has a big run at the end of the game.Â He did it against Nebraska, against Northwestern, against Minnesota, against Iowa, against Michigan.Â Sort of a signature type thing for him.
We just kept banging it.Â Things started to move.
Ohio State has a great defense.Â They have a great football team.
Q.Â (No microphone.)
COACH DANTONIO:Â Travis Jackson was in.Â I'm not sure if we had two or one.Â Donavon was probably in.Â We had Connor Kruse in.Â We have eight guys who I feel are starters for us, play a lot.Â This was a very important game for all of our guys.Â Travis Jackson when Dan France went down, obviously did a great job when he got in there, moved it.
Q.Â Max, the defense was able to hold Ohio State to one for 10 on third down.Â What is it about this defensive unit that they're able to hold them in check a little bit more?
MAX BULLOUGH:Â This is about Michigan State.Â I've said that.Â Those are things that we've been able to do to all the teams we faced for the most part all season.Â All the things we focus on each week, we talk about winning money down, trying to do things to confuse them.
That something we focus on.Â We've done it all year, whether we're playing Ohio State, whoever it is.Â That's something we focus on.Â I told you we'd be able to do it, we did.
They're a great offense.Â Obviously they did some things against us.Â But we've had a pretty good year, too.
Q.Â Coach, you beat No. 2.Â This is a huge win.Â You're going to represent the conference now in another game.Â What do you tell your squad so they still stay focused another big game coming up?
COACH DANTONIO:Â Well, as I said earlier, we accomplished two goals now.Â Two down, one to go.Â We want to win our bowl game.Â There's nothing like winning your last football game that you play because it sets you up for next year and it finishes things.Â You go out on a winning note.
We'll be motivated.Â We'll probably be playing Stanford.Â We'll be motivated.Â It will be a great trip for us.Â More importantly, it's a rite of passage really for our football team.Â It's someplace we haven't been.
Like I said, this is a football team, we weren't ranked in the top 25 until sometime the end of October.Â So this is a football team that's earned its way.Â We've not backed into any games.Â We didn't back into this championship game.Â We're not backing in to the Rose Bowl.Â We're going in there the right way.
Q.Â Coach, could you explain what went into your decision to do the on‑side kick after taking the lead in the second half.
COACH DANTONIO:Â Yeah.Â We're going to play to win.Â We felt like it was there.Â We felt like we had a shot at it.Â Darqueze Dennard almost got it.Â Darqueze did.Â Great kick by Muma.Â We needed to try to do something.Â I felt like if we got the ball there, we were up by 3, I believe, and if we got the ball, we'd take it down the field and create even more momentum.
Ohio State is a tough offense, man.Â Braxton Miller make that 20 yards we didn't get, or if we got the ball on the 20, they could be at the 40 in one play.
I felt it was worth the risk.Â Our players wanted to go for it.Â Our coaches wanted to go for it.Â That's how we play.
Q.Â Yesterday we talked about the magnitude of this game for not only this team but this program.Â I was wondering if you had a chance to recognize any of the faces in the crowd, the sheer joy of the Spartan fans when they realized they won it.Â Earlier in the week you mentioned, Why not us?Â Do you feel like you deserve a shot at the national title?
COACH DANTONIO:Â I don't really know what happened today.Â I couldn't tell you who won, who lost.Â We're living in a bubble here.
But I can tell you this:Â we beat the No. 2 team.Â I don't think there's an undefeated team out there, but one.Â Is that correct?Â Florida State still undefeated?Â So there's one.Â We're 12‑1.Â Why not us?Â Why not us?
So, you know, I'm not getting (indiscernible) for that.Â But I'll vote us No. 2.Â We'll start with that.
Q.Â The reaction of the fans?
COACH DANTONIO:Â Spartan Nation is something special.Â They've been with us through thick and thin.Â I'm so happy for the people that have come down here.Â Take a boat load of people to Pasadena.Â I'm thrilled for the people that live out in California.Â We have a large fan base who live out there.
I don't know.Â It's just nice to make people happy I guess, simply put as that.Â I'm really excited for our football team.Â I'm excited for our players because they put in so much work.Â I'm excited for Mark Hollis.Â When he became the athletic director, he said he would not stop until we put our feet in the middle of those roses at the Rose Bowl.Â Now we've accomplished that.Â We'll be there.
But just so happy for our football team, our players, everybody that surrounds the program.
THE MODERATOR:Â Gentlemen, thank you all very much.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports