Michigan State and Mark Dantonio have become an interesting storyline in college football this year. Once again, the Spartans were expected to be a legitimate contender in the B1G East, but have fallen short of expectations.

Dantonio and company sit at 4-3 on the season and are idle this Saturday, following back-to-back blowout losses to Ohio State and Wisconsin the last two weeks. The Spartans are 2-2 in conference play and have essentially been knocked out of the division running, barring something crazy occurring in the final six weeks.

This week, during the SEC teleconferences, Alabama head coach Nick Saban — who was previously the leader in East Lansing before building dynasties at LSU and Alabama — was asked about Dantonio and the job he’s done at Michigan State.

Saban had nothin but positive remarks for his former assistant coach. Here’s a recap of what Saban had to say about Dantonio from the teleconference:

First off, I think Mark has done an outstanding job at his time there. Had some very successful seasons, we played them in the Playoff. I think Mark is a great recruiter, MSU is a great place, beautiful campus… I’m sure the expectations are very high there and I think Mark has done a good job meeting those expectations. I think it’s unrealistic to think you are going to have a great team year in and year out… but I think he’s done an outstanding job.

Dantonio has done some positive things for the Michigan State program since taking over in 2007, winning three B1G titles and three division titles in his 13 seasons with the team. He’s also collected 111 wins, becoming the all-time winningest coach in program history.

In 2015, he guided the Spartans to a 12-2 record, making an appearance in the College Football Playoff.

Since then, though, Michigan State has fallen on some tough times. The Spartans went 3-9 the following season, the worst year of the Dantonio era in East Lansing. Things seemed to be on the rise in 2017, with MSU getting to 10-3 with wins over Michigan and Penn State.

But the last two years, the Spartans have hovered around the .500 mark, which isn’t anywhere near the expectation in East Lansing. In fact, since that magical 2015 run, MSU is just 24-21 in the last four years.

The blowout losses in back-to-back weeks certainly haven’t helped matters.

Michigan State still has an opportunity to salvage this season and post some big wins. The Spartans still have Penn State, Illinois, Michigan, Rutgers and Maryland on schedule.

If they don’t win at least one of those games, though, there’s going to be even more pressure on Dantonio and the program moving forward.