Harlon Barnett has experienced the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry game in just about every way imaginable. Barnett played in the rivalry while attending MSU, and he’s now preparing to lead the Spartans against the Wolverines as the interim coach in East Lansing.

The stakes are undoubtedly stacked high against Michigan State this year as Michigan comes to town with the No. 2 team in the country. Fortunately, Barnett has an extra weapon in his arsenal as he tries to get the Spartans ready.

That secret weapon comes in the form of Mark Dantonio, MSU’s legendary coach who flipped the script and turned the UM-MSU series on its head. During Monday’s press conference, Barnett was asked about Dantonio’s formula to approaching the rivalry, but Barnett did not bite on the question.


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“Because he has a secret formula to success, I can’t share it so I’ll just say it that way if that’s okay,” said Barnett.

During his 13 seasons as head coach, Dantonio went 8-5 against the Wolverines. He is now serving as the associate HC for Barnett following the firing of Mel Tucker.

It’s also worth noting Barnett was on Dantonio’s staff for the majority of that tenure, and he was also on Tucker’s staff for wins against UM in 2020 and 2021. We’ll find out if any of Dantonio’s formula rubbed off on Barnett, but it will take a lot to take down the heavily favored Michigan team. Fans can get in on the weekend action via our special DraftKings Michigan promo code!

As for MSU bouncing back from a big losing streak, Barnett said the team is in full attack mode. The 24-hour rule helps the players flush bad results (like the one at Rutgers), and it’s time to focus everything on Michigan.

“I think it can work either way. We set the 24-hour rule and sure enough, after 24 hours you have to get rid of it and let go,” Barnett explained. “I think it’s mentally how you look at it and how you receive it and attack it.

“For me personally, it’s attack mode. We’ve lost 4 in a row, so now it’s attack mode. Just keep attacking. Eventually it’s gonna turn, so that’s how I think.”

(H/T SpartanMag)