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Michigan hopes to snap skid against Michigan State

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Michigan hopes to snap skid against Michigan State

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Michigan has met Michigan State on the football field more than 100 times since 1898, winning more than two-thirds of the games.

The Spartans, though, have had their way with the Wolverines lately.

``They took it to us four straight years and that's something we're aware of,'' Michigan linebacker Desmond Morgan said.

And if Michigan State can pull off an upset at the Big House this week, it will have a school-record, five-game winning streak in the rivalry.

``It'll be a challenge, going down there, obviously,'' Spartans coach Mark Dantonio said Saturday after losing to Iowa. ``We can talk about that next week, and everyone will get all riled up about things. It'll be good for the blood.''

No. 23 Michigan (4-2, 2-0 Big Ten) is building momentum in Brady Hoke's second season, outscoring Purdue and Illinois 89-13 the past two weeks after leaving Notre Dame last month with a .500 record.

Michigan State, meanwhile, is coming off a 19-16 double-overtime home loss to the Hawkeyes that was its third setback in five games since being ranked No. 10 and getting its flaws exposed by Notre Dame. After playing at Michigan, the Spartans (4-3, 1-2) travel to Wisconsin and host Nebraska.

``It's gut-check time,'' Dantonio said. ``We're in a tough stretch of the schedule, but we'll rise to it. Our guys will play hard next week. You can count on that.''

The Wolverines mostly deflected questions about Michigan State after beating Illinois 45-0 on Saturday, saying they just wanted to enjoy the win.

``Right now, I'm not even thinking about it,'' quarterback Denard Robinson insisted after his four-touchdown performance against the Fighting Illini. ``This is a big win for us.''

Hoke said he was pleasantly surprised how focused his team was last week, preparing to play Illinois without peeking ahead at a chance to finally beat the Spartans.

``I didn't even talk about it because our guys never even mentioned it,'' Hoke said.

Hoke wanted his players to enjoy their second straight win since losing to the Fighting Irish, but acknowledged getting another shot to play the Spartans was on his mind.

``I don't know if you ever don't think about rivalry games,'' Hoke said. ``I think that's always part of what makes us special being Michigan.''

The Wolverines have three true rivalries with Ohio State, Michigan State and Notre Dame. They snapped a record seven-game losing streak against the Buckeyes last year and had won three straight against the Irish before losing to them this year.

But Michigan hasn't beaten the Spartans since 2007 when former Wolverines running back Mike Hart referred to Michigan State as a little brother.

Dantonio, then in his first year as head coach in East Lansing, lashed out at Hart, saying ``they need to check themselves,'' and ``pride comes before the fall.''

Michigan State turned a tie game at halftime into a 28-14 win over the Wolverines last season, recording its second straight win in the series by at least two touchdowns and fourth consecutive victory in the rivalry to match a school record last accomplished from 1959-62.

The Spartans want to stand alone in their record books.

``Getting that fifth win in a row over them would mean a lot to this team, especially in the position we're in right now,'' safety Isaiah Lewis said.

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Follow Larry Lage on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/larrylage

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Dwayne Haskins welcomes fellow OSU alum, XFL QB Cardale Jones to D.C.

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Dwayne Haskins welcomes fellow OSU alum, XFL QB Cardale Jones to D.C.

There's a new Buckeye in town.

The XFL conducted the first part of their 2020 Draft Tuesday with D.C.'s newest team, the Defenders, drafting quarterback Cardale Jones.

Dwayne Haskins welcomed his fellow Buckeye to town on Twitter, to which Jones replied, "roommates?" "Towels and linen ready," Haskins tweeted back.

Jones led the Buckeyes to a National Championship in 2015, leaving Ohio State to enter the 2016 NFL Draft the year Haskins arrived.

Jones' NFL career was short-lived. He was drafted during the fourth round in the 2016 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills, was then traded to the Los Angeles Chargers, cut at the end of this past August, picked up by the Seattle Seahawks and cut two weeks later. After an NFL career that never seemed to materialize, Jones is looking forward to a career in the XFL.

“It’s an opportunity to go somewhere and be ‘the guy,’ instead of being on someone’s practice squad," Jones said in a phone interview with the Washington Post after being cut by the Seahawks.

The XFL and D.C. Defenders kick off their inaugural season at Audi Field in February 2020.

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It's time to start regarding Quinton Dunbar as a top cornerback in the NFL

It's time to start regarding Quinton Dunbar as a top cornerback in the NFL

Many features of the Redskins' defense has disappointed in 2019. Quinton Dunbar's performance isn't one of them, though.

The 27-year-old's effort on Sunday against the Dolphins included an interception and ended with him receiving the second-best single-game grade of his career, according to Pro Football Focus.

Any idea which contest was the only one to top his afternoon in Miami? Oh, it came just a few weeks ago versus the Giants, where he picked off two Daniel Jones passes and shut down whatever pass-catcher lined up across from him.

Overall, Pro Football Focus rates Dunbar as the NFL's third most effective cornerback this year. He's missed two matchups due to injuries, but when he's active, he's active in the secondary.

"He was tremendous in so many areas," interim coach Bill Callahan said on Monday when looking back at what Dunbar did in Week 6. "He was relentless versus their screens — he came up, he supported, he filled the alley, really impressive — and the play he made on the slant on the pick, really great anticipation, awareness, instinct, intuitiveness."

Those four qualities that Callahan mentioned are what really stand out from the former-receiver-turned-corner (whenever writing about No. 23, it's necessary to point out he didn't even play on defense until 2015, illustrating just how incredible his development at DB has been). His pick of Josh Rosen happened thanks to his ability to read and then react to the route:

Dunny's other two thefts this season were much like that one: he shadowed the opponent step-for-step then ran through his body to force a turnover. He's not nabbing overthrows or getting lucky off deflections; he's stealing balls from the offense.

As mentioned, leg issues have kept Dunbar on the sidelines this campaign as well as the last one for some extended periods. He's also lining up on a unit that's been nothing more than mediocre for a while, which is another factor preventing him from getting the recognition he deserves. 

But with the way he's stepping up as of late, his name should stop popping up more when running down the list of the sport's best at his position.

Redskins fans have long lamented what Josh Norman has done and how the team doesn't have a special CB. It's beginning to look like they do, however — it's just the guy on the other side of the field.

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