Michigan State Football: Seniors out for revenge in 2015


Senior defensive end Shilique Calhoun stated in January the reason for his passing up the NFL for a senior season as a Spartan: “unfinished business.”

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An extra motivational tool for Michigan State’s seniors will be having their final chance to gain revenge against Oregon and Ohio State to finish their college careers – and avoid graduating with a sour taste without another chance.

The 2013 season was one of payback, as the team beat five of the six teams that beat them the season before: Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa and Northwestern, but the team they lost to again was Notre Dame, and seniors only wish they had the Irish on their schedule to command payback – but they’re out of luck.

"“We’ve learned from our mistakes. We’ve seen the past,” senior defensive lineman Joel Heath said. “We know what to do right. Those past mistakes and past things we lost build us up more now.”"

Oct 25, 2014; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans defensive lineman Joel Heath (92) stands on the field between plays during the 2nd half of a game at Spartan Stadium. MSU won 35-11. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The battle between Michigan State and Oregon on September 12 will be the second of the two-year series between the two teams, and the final chance for vengeance. Losing both games in consecutive seasons would hurt, and nobody on the roster will play the Ducks again.

”Coach D always stresses every year that seniors need to have their best year. This is our last go. This is our legacy.” – RJ Williamson

“Our goal is always to make it to the Big Ten Championship, and last year we were unable to attain that goal,” Calhoun said. “That shows we need to work harder.”

A win at Ohio State would be the seniors’ only regular season victory over the Buckeyes. And though their Big Ten Title win in 2013 will live on in Spartan lore, Buckeye seniors would still claim domination over the Spartan seniors during their careers by winning three of four meetings. Ohio State took the upper hand last season – making it Michigan State’s turn to take it back.

Connor Cook has been playing with a chip on his shoulder, according to MSU football media day.

“Since I’ve been here people have always talked about Michigan, they’ve always talked about Ohio State,” Cook said.

Jan 1, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Michigan State Spartans quarterback Connor Cook (18) runs away from Baylor Bears linebacker Bryce Hager (44) during the gamein the 2015 Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since Michigan State has taken control of its in-state rival Michigan, Spartan seniors must feel they can absolutely not graduate with an even 2-2 tie between the two teams.

Spartan animosity toward Michigan can hardly be exaggerated, and their Wolverine nemesis has been flaunted after the hiring of Jim Harbaugh. A two-point loss to Michigan in 2012 was difficult enough to stomach. Seniors must leave East Lansing with a win in Ann Arbor, the first of many Dantonio victories over Harbaugh.

“Our work is not done yet,” senior defensive end Lawrence Thomas said. “Reaching higher, for me, is taking this team to a level of play that we haven’t gotten yet.”

Wins over Michigan, Nebraska, Rutgers, Maryland and Penn State would ensure the Spartan seniors leave with career winning records over each of those teams.

Players are full of enthusiasm in anticipation for the beginning of the season, sense a spirit of revenge toward Oregon and Ohio State, and must earn a career of superiority over Michigan.

Connor Cook, Shilique Calhoun, Jack Allen, Macgarrett Kings, Darien Harris and the other Spartan seniors arrived as recruits in 2012, came together to work hard throughout their college careers, and raised the standards of Michigan State football. Senior safety R.J. Williamson summed senior up well:

"“This is a big season for myself and the seniors on this team. Coach D always stresses every year that seniors need to have their best year at Michigan State University. That’s what we’re striving for and pursuing. This is our last go around. This is our legacy.”"

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