Sean Merriman: MSU, Notre Dame Rivalry Brings Back Memories of 2010
Mark Dantonio raised his hands in the air and let out a faint smile, like we have seen so many times before.
He saw the crowd rise to their feet. He heard the sweet applause once it had happened. And then, after one of the greatest finishes in college football history, Dantonio had the biggest scare of his life.
There were no telling signs. No “what’s wrong with me” moment.
The Spartans had just pulled off a magical comeback win over Notre Dame on a fake field goal, which went for a score to give MSU a 34-31 win over the Fighting Irish.
The play was called “Little Giants”—and Dantonio’s team ran it to perfection, at the perfect time, in the most audacious way imaginable.
But what happened after that play is something that will forever be engrained in the minds of those MSU players on the night of Sept. 18, 2010.
Following the thrilling overtime victory, Dantonio suffered an unexpected heart attack and had surgery to put a stent in a blocked blood vessel leading to the heart. It was a stunning, unforeseen event that brought the Spartan coaches, players and fans closer than ever before to rally around their head coach.
Now, two years later, the Spartans find themselves in a very familiar position. After an impressive 2-0 start to the season, MSU will take the field against Notre Dame Saturday night in another prime-time 8 p.m. game that figures to be another thriller between two elite college football teams.
Coming off a convincing 41-7 victory over Central Michigan, the Spartans have established themselves as the Big Ten favorite heading into this Week 3 non-conference clash with Notre Dame. A victory would likely boost the Spartans even higher in the rankings and give Mark Dantonio his fourth win over the Irish in six years.
But when the Spartans take the field on Saturday night, don’t think for a second that those players who were on that 2010 team will not think back to that magical night two years ago, and the near tragedy that followed that breath-taking victory.
It was like a 24-hour football movie that had a little of everything and a full-swing of emotions.
Hopefully, for MSU’s coaches, players and fans, this Saturday night has a perfect story-book ending.