MSU: Flag planting big mistake

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Associated Press

It was an image replayed on all the highlight shows - and likely one seared into the minds of Notre Dame players, coaches and fans.

Michigan State's ecstatic players raced to midfield after their 44-41 upset of Notre Dame to plant their school flag on the Fighting Irish's home turf.

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Some of the Spartans, including coach John L. Smith, regret the flag-raising.

''We would not have encouraged our guys to do that,'' Smith said.

He suggested a more appropriate response would have been hoisting the Megaphone Trophy that the two schools play for. The trophy, however, was not in the stadium after the game.

Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis didn't say a word about the Spartans' postgame antics.

On Wednesday, quarterback Brady Quinn said, ''It's something that makes a lot of people upset, to say the least, with the fact that's how they deal with a win like that.

"Looking back to the season prior when we beat Michigan State, I don't think you saw any of our players sticking flags into other fields. I think that's not how we handle ourselves. It was disappointing to see that happen.''

MSU offensive lineman Gordon Niebylski agreed his teammates got carried away.

''Hindsight is 20-20 and we probably shouldn't have planted the flag on the field,'' he said. ''But at the same time, it's emotional, and we made a mistake, and it happens. But we didn't mean any disrespect for Notre Dame.''

Who could blame Michigan State for claiming the field? The Spartans have won five in a row in South Bend - something the Fighting Irish haven't accomplished since 2002.


ROAD TRIP: Two-time defending Big Ten champion Michigan hits the road for the first time this week at Wisconsin, where none of the current Wolverines have played.

''We have a lot of guys who have been on the road. They just haven't been to Madison,'' Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. ''We had some crowd noise in our practices last week, which is a shock to guys who heard it for the first time, because you can't hear.

''The idea is to try to do as much in practice as you can to simulate the noise factor and the communication, how much closer you have to listen. We'll work on all those things. We'll do everything we can.''

The game will start early in the evening, giving the Badgers' traditionally raucous fans extra time to get even more fired up for the game.


YOUNG HAWKS: Seeing Ohio State linebackers A.J Hawk and Bobby Carpenter near the top of the Big Ten in tackles for loss is no surprise.

The actual leader, though, is another matter. Meet Iowa freshman Mitch King.

King, who backs up starters Matt Kroul and Alex Willcox at defensive tackles, has six tackles for a loss in three games - one more than Hawk and Carpenter.

''He's a disruptive player,'' Iowa center Brian Ferentz said.

King is part of a young, smallish defensive line, a sharp contrast to the veteran unit that anchored the Hawkeyes' defense last year. Willcox and ends Kenny Iwebema and Bryan Mattison are sophomores. Kroul is a freshman.

''It is still a big work in progress,'' King said.


FEARSOME: Penn State coach Joe Paterno calls defensive end Tamba Hali a nice kid with a big grin. He's got a lot more than a nice smile.

Hali recorded 2.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for losses last week to lead the line's stellar day against Central Michigan.

''We don't give Hali enough credit. We probably gotta start promoting him a little bit more on a national level because Tamba is playing great,'' Paterno said.

With the loss of three reserves before the season started, Paterno was concerned about depth up front. But the starting foursome has been fearsome.

''They may be as good a front four as there is in the country,'' Paterno said.


BADGERED BY UM: Barry Alvarez will lead Wisconsin against Michigan for the final time on Saturday. Alvarez, retiring as head coach to become athletic director after the season, has had less success against the Wolverines than any other Big Ten team, going 3-7.

''It is just a simple fact that they're pretty good and always have (been),'' Alvarez said. ''If you take a look at every other team in the league, there has been some slipping. Some teams have slipped and had years when they've had down years. But I can't remember a year when Michigan has been down. Their down years are pretty good years.''


PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Iowa LB Chad Greenway (20 tackles in a win over Northern Iowa) was defensive player of the week. Michigan State QB Drew Stanton (three TD passes, 327 yards passing, one touchdown run) won offensive honors for his big game against Notre Dame. … Wisconsin P Ken DeBauche averaged 46.7 yards in a 14-5 win at North Carolina, and was special teams player of the week.


QUICK HITTERS: Purdue's seven pass completions in a 31-24 win over Arizona were the fewest in Joe Tiller's nine years as head coach. … Six Big Ten teams (Indiana, Michigan State, Minnesota, Penn State, Wisconsin and Purdue) are unbeaten, and three others who have lost are ranked in the AP Top 25.