CHICAGO Mark Dantonio has been to Big Ten media days as a conference co-champion in 2011 and as a coach coming off of consecutive 11-win seasons in 2012, but this year is different.

Dantonio's Spartans were the unquestioned No. 1 team in the league last season, beating Ohio State in the Big Ten title game, beating Stanford in the Rose Bowl and finishing with a 13-1 record and a No. 3 national ranking. So Michigan State, he told the media at the Hilton Chicago, is now "a little bit more of the hunted."

"That's a good place to be," Dantonio said, "but it's also a precarious place to be."

The idea of "handling success" has been a Dantonio favorite in the past, but it's an even bigger talking point now.

"We've had a knack for winning football games these last (few) years but we've also taken a step back a couple of times," Dantonio said, referencing the 7-6 disappointment of 2012. "We have to continue to find those inches and gain even more ground, because respectability can fly right out the window on us, and I understand that."

Dantonio also was asked how he keeps "the fire burning" for the Michigan game, even though Michigan State has won five of the last six in the rivalry.

"I continue to live in Michigan," he responded. "That ought to do it."



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