Redbox Bowl, Ducks Present MSU With Huge Opportunity

Redbox Bowl, Ducks Present MSU With Huge Opportunity

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Redbox Bowl, Ducks Present MSU With Huge Opportunity

Michigan State (7-5) accepted an invitation to head out west and compete against one of the premiere programs in college football, the Oregon Ducks (8-4), in the Redbox Bowl.  This gives the Spartans a terrific shot at finishing strong and starting off even stronger.

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On Sunday night, when Mark Dantonio addressed reporters about Michigan State’s invitation to play in the Redbox Bowl, even he addressed the notion that the Rose Bowl or the New Year’s Six Bowls – and, of course, the ultimate goal of the College Football Playoff – all represent the standards that have been set by the Spartan program over the last decade+.

But when a season falls short of the program’s own expectations, reaching a bowl that presents the team with a great experience and an opponent that allows Michigan State to prepare with pride and purpose is all Dantonio and his team can ask for.

Consider the Michigan State Spartans grateful and excited to get ready for what has the potential to be a terrific contest between the 8-4 Ducks and the 7-5 Spartans on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve in Santa Clara, CA at Levi’s Stadium.

As Sunday’s CFP and overall bowl selections approached, there were numerous bowl possibilities for the Spartans that experts addressed – although few, if any, had Michigan State slated for this matchup in Santa Clara.

Nobody is going to make the argument that the Redbox Bowl has the grandeur of the Rose Bowl or the Cotton Bowl.

Although, there are programs out there who will do their best to elevate the grandeur of bowl games that aren’t the Rose Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl, or the Orange Bowl in their own attempts to make their own bowl games bigger than they are and bigger than they expected them to be.

The bottom line for these 2018 Spartans is that they’re going to have a great opportunity to do battle with a high-powered program with a national brand on New Year’s Eve in an environment that will give the entire program a special experience.

A victory over Oregon would do a whole lot more than put a capper on the 2018 season.

Yes, Dantonio is, of course, right in talking about how it’s important to end a season with a “feel good” experience.

“You want to have a feel-good at the end of every season,” Dantonio said. “You want to feel good about where you left it as you finish your season. We need to get ourselves ready to play and play our best football. And that, as much as anything, I want to leave a season playing our best football.

“I don’t think there is any question toward the end of the season we didn’t play as good as we had maybe at other points during the season, whether that was injuries or whatever. So, as you work through your season and come out the back end of it, you want to be playing your best football. It’s quite simply that. That means winning your bowl game.”

But, make no mistake – these Spartans are already in 2019 mode and the chance to get a win over a team like Oregon would do wonders for the program as it immediately begins to focus on redemption in the new season ahead.

Oregon’s first-year head coach Mario Cristobal’s initial comments should remind Spartans that even with a 7-5 record that included disappointment and frustration, Oregon sees Michigan State as the program that Dantonio has built over these last 12 years.

“They are what we all know of Michigan State and their history; just a very physical and big football team with some good explosive players,” Cristobal said. “What I saw on film is just that. Guys that control the line of scrimmage, knock you back. They do a real good job of disguising their pressures. They are consistent in what they do.

“They’re a very well-coached football team. Coach Dantonio does a real good job with them.”

Between now and New Year’s Eve, SpartansWire will examine every aspect of the matchup with as many perspectives as possible.

For right now, let’s continue to turn the page on the frustrations of the regular season and get ready for an exciting and potentially massive momentum-builder for the next nine months.

I saw some of the Twitter folks who chimed in on recent Twitters I’ve sent out there with links to stories about how the 7-5 season for Michigan State didn’t erase the three – THREE – Big Ten Championships that Mark Dantonio’s program has won over the last twelve years.

One of the brilliant Twitters from someone said this about Michigan State’s football fortunes:

“Program in decline.”

Feels like I’ve heard that at least six or seven times during Dantonio’s tenure.

That’s been the “go-to” for the folks out there who wake up in cold sweats after nightmares of the way Dantonio and the Spartans have kept their favorite team from winning a single Big Ten East Division title, let along a single Big Ten Conference Championship.

The “program in decline” decry was very popular at this very moment in 2012 following a 6-6 regular season.

The Spartans defeated TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl that December.

And the people who were quick to say “program in decline” back then aren’t even aware of the specifics related to Michigan State football from that moment forward because their minds don’t allow facts related to other programs’ successes get in the way of their la la land mentality about fantasies built on hype and music videos.

Spartans remember everything about what happened after that 2012 season.

Saddle up, Spartans – this program isn’t in decline.

Dantonio’s been here before.

He knows where he’s headed.

So do all members of the program.

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