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No. 23 Michigan has lost 4 straight to Michigan St

No. 23 Michigan has lost 4 straight to Michigan St

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) It's been five years since Michigan State's Mark Dantonio lost as head coach against Michigan.

Back then, Wolverines running back Mike Hart referred to the Spartans as a little brother after beating them in 2007. Dantonio responded sternly, saying ``they need to check themselves,'' and ``pride comes before the fall.''

``Of course, there's always thing you wish you didn't say,'' Dantonio said this week. ``But sometimes, I get emotional and let my feelings and competitive spirit run away with the words I say.''

Still, his team has backed him up.

Michigan State (4-3, 1-2 Big Ten) has won four straight in the rivalry and if the Spartans can pull off an upset at No. 23 Michigan (4-2, 2-0) on Saturday, they will have a school-record, five-game winning streak in the series.

``We've had success in this rivalry, but I also understand it's all about what have you done lately,'' Dantonio said. ``Things can change very quickly.''

The Spartans have found that out the hard way, starting the season with high expectations and getting ranked as high as No. 10 before a humbling, flaw-exposing loss to Notre Dame that was the first of three losses in a five-game stretch.

``No excuses,'' Dantonio said.

The Wolverines have even more to lose than the dubious distinction of being on the field for a fifth straight loss to a rival that has won just 32 games in the series from 1898 to 2011. Michigan, co-leaders in the Big Ten's Legends Division, can't afford to have a setback in a quest to win a conference championship for the first time since 2004.

Coach Brady Hoke acknowledged the division race ratchets up the rivalry, in which the home team has won 14 of the last 20 meetings.

``That helps,'' he said.

While Hoke in in just his second year, he has many more memories against Michigan State from his seven seasons as a Wolverines assistant. His most vivid was in 2001.

With a disputed second left on the clock, Jeff Smoker lobbed a 2-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Duckett as time expired in that game. The Wolverines were flagged twice during the game-losing drive, including an infraction for having 12 players on the field that helped the Spartans score.

Hoke still blames himself for the penalty, saying he was in charge of making substitutions then for coach Lloyd Carr, and jokes that he still kept his job.

``Barely,'' he said.

After narrowly beating Michigan by two points in what is known locally as ``The Clock Game,'' in 2001 and winning other games in the series in controversial fashion, the Spartans have won three of the last four matchups decisively by 14-plus points.

To pull off another victory, Michigan State will have to shut down electric quarterback Denard Robinson for the third straight year. Robinson has avoided throwing an interception in his last two games after throwing a career-high four in a loss at Notre Dame.

The Spartans have successfully forced Robinson to pass and have contained him on the ground. He was knocked out of last year's game after getting roughed up, including having his face mask twisted after he was already tackled. In two starts against Michigan State, Robinson has run for an average of 64 yards, completed less than half of his passes with a total of two TD passes and four interceptions.

``We've tackled him well in place, have applied pressure and kept him in the pocket,'' Dantonio said. ``But he's dangerous because he can make a bad play a good one for Michigan in a split second.''

Hoke, with the help of an improving defense and a Robinson-led offense, has turned around a proud-again program quickly enough that Michigan is in a position to become college football's first team with 900 wins.

``I think it's a great accomplishment,'' Robinson said. ``But what we're looking at is getting our fifth win and trying to win the Big Ten.''

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

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Nassir Little

nassir-little-unc-auburn-usat.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Nassir Little

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Nassir Little

School: North Carolina
Position: Forward
Age: 19
Height: 6-6
Weight: 220
Wingspan: 7-1
Max vertical: 38.5 in.

2018/19 stats: 9.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.5 bpg, 47.8 FG% (3.6/7.6), 26.9 3PT% (0.4/1.4), 77.0 FT%

Player comparison: Jae Crowder, Justise Winslow

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 11th, NBADraft.net 11th, Bleacher Report 16th, Sports Illustrated 11th, Ringer 14th

5 things to know:

*Little came to UNC as their top-ranked recruit and the sixth-ranked player in his class, but didn't live up to those expectations in his one year in Chapel Hill. There is a debate about whether he will be better suited for the NBA, given his athleticism and playing style. The team who drafts him could come away with a steal if the latter proves true.

*He is more known for his defense at this point. Little is an aggressive and physical perimeter defender who could develop into a Marcus Smart-like pest. Though he didn't force a ton of turnovers in college, Little clearly gave opposing teams problems with his energy and length. 

*There are questions about whether Little will ever be more than a dunker on the offensive end. He is excellent in transition and cutting to the rim, but he didn't do much creating off the dribble in college and needs to work on his outside shooting. He shot just 26.9 percent from three at UNC.

*Little had a strong combine with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and a 38.5-inch vertical leap. Those numbers helped his reputation as one of the most athletic wings in this year's class.

*Both of Little's parents were in the U.S. military. He had a 4.2 GPA in high school and was named Academic All-ACC.

Fit with Wizards: Little fits with the Wizards given he is a small forward and they currently have an opening there. He would also give them something they need in terms of style as a physical wing defender. Little is the type of player who could help them improve their horrid three-point defense.

But Little's raw skillset suggests he may take some time to develop offensively and it brings into question how high his ceiling will ultimately prove to be. The Wizards may be able to find someone with the ninth pick who can both contribute sooner than Little and offer a clearer road to potential stardom.

That said, if Little's game is indeed more designed for the NBA than in college, he could impress in pre-draft workouts and end up rising up the board.

Best highlight video:
https://youtu.be/oGIQDUttG8I

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Reuben Foster believed to be lost for 2019 with major knee, leg injury, per source

Reuben Foster believed to be lost for 2019 with major knee, leg injury, per source

Redskins officials fear that linebacker Reuben Foster has torn the ACL in his left knee, sources tell NBC Sports Washington.

Additionally, there is concern about a more significant injury that could include the artery in his left leg, sources said. 

Foster went down on his first snap in a non-contact drill during OTAs on Monday after stepping on the leg of guard Tyler Catalina. Immediately, Foster fell to the ground, and it was obvious he was in intense pain. He was audibly screaming and crying while writhing in pain on the field. 

Moments later, the Redskins medical staff rushed out to Foster, and within a matter of minutes, his leg was placed into a stabilizing device. He was then helped onto a cart and wheeled off the practice field. 

After practice, Jay Gruden said the team was unsure of Foster's prognosis but did say, "I’m just very disappointed in what happened in his first rep as a Redskin. He runs through the gap and gets injured."

The Redskins took a major public relations hit by signing Foster last fall, and the team's belief was that his play on the field would be worth the controversy that enveloped his signing. Foster won't be playing in 2019, but remains under contract for 2020, and Washington will have the option to keep him in 2021. 

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