MSU to ‘reach higher’ for Big Ten title game

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio, left, university president Lou Anna Simon, bottom right, and players celebrate with their Big Ten East Division Championship trophy after beating Penn State 55-16 in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, in East Lansing, Mich.

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) – With the Big Ten championship game this weekend, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio held his pregame news conference Tuesday in East Lansing.

The Spartans are getting ready to face the unbeaten Iowa Hawkeyes Saturday night in Indianapolis.

Before the season began, Michigan State rolled out the slogan “reach higher.” Their goal is to win championships, the Big Ten and national.

“We feel like if we look at our goals and we say we want to be champions, that helps us understand the kind of work that has to go into that kind of season,” MSU linebacker Riley Bullough said.

The Spartans have won 11 games five out of the last six years. When the season began the expectations were great, and that is the case right now.

“I just think people need to know which direction we’re going in. There’s no secrets here. We built this program to a point where these are our goals now. Initially, our goals were to do other things, but … this is where we’re at now. This is why we’ve come here. We recruited to these goals, and the fact that we’ve reached to this point, we’ve reached here, we’re at this point, gives credibility to what we talk about here,” Dantonio said.

The Hawkeyes are 12-0 and the Spartans know that Saturday’s game will not be a cakewalk.

“I just know that every time you line up against Iowa, you know you’re going to play a great football team that will play with toughness. They’ll be well-coached and they’ll give their players a chance to win,” Dantonio said.

The college football playoff rankings were released Tuesday, with Iowa coming in at No. 4 and Michigan State at No. 5. So on Saturday, the Big Ten championship isn’t the only that will be at stake.

“I think the Big Ten is in. I mean, fourth and fifth last week. You know, a 12-0 team and a one-loss team. So whoever wins the football game is going to get an extra bump, so I think they are in,” Dantonio said.

The Spartans and Hawkeyes are set to kick off at 8:17 p.m. Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Tune in to 24 Hour News 8 at 10 and 11 p.m. on Saturday for highlights.

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