As boldly amazing as Mark Dantonio’s call for a fake field goal against Notre Dame in overtime may have been, it’s perhaps just as amusing that the name of the play was “Little Giants.”
From Joe Rexrode at the Lansing State Journal:
It’s also the name of a movie about a youth football team. Aaron Bates thinks it’s the only movie Mark Dantonio has ever seen, because “all our trick plays are named after ‘Little Giants.’” Dantonio said that he has, in fact, seen other movies.
Just the visual of the sour-faced Dantonio on his couch watching Ed O’Neill and Rick Moranis go at each other is enough for a chuckle. Maybe the movie even made Dantonio smile – just as he did when his Spartans pulled off their shocking overtime victory over Notre Dame.
Also fueling that smile may have been the stakes surrounding the game. As Rexrode points out, there was some pressure – even if self-imposed – on Dantonio to beat Brian Kelly.
This couldn’t be more fitting, of course, given the circumstances. This was MSU-Notre Dame but it was also Dantonio-Kelly, let’s be real. Dantonio needed to win this game because you can’t lose to Kelly’s first team. Kelly needed to win this game because he was already taking some heat for the Michigan loss, and his fan base knows how to manufacture heat.
There’s plenty more to read from Rexrode, including the process of installing “Little Giants” into Michigan State’s game plan, why Dantonio let his kicker off the hook, and the MSU coach’s history of calling trick plays.