With back-to-back wins following a disappointing loss to Michigan, #18 Michigan State became bowl eligible last week and continues its November push when the Spartans face Ohio State on Saturday afternoon at Spartan Stadium, looking to avenge last year’s embarrassing 48-3 loss.
In last year’s loss to the Buckeyes, Michigan State surrendered 524 yards of total offense, including 335 yards on the ground and quickly fell behind 35-0 by the midway point of the second quarter and never recovered.
Going into this Saturday’s game, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said that he expects his team to have the same approach it has had for any of their games this season and not focus too much on last season’s loss.
“I think every game is really, as I said earlier, a couple weeks back, every game is sort of a new season,” he said. “You can look at every single game and build on it from the past and look to the future. I expect our players to get ready every single game, regardless of who we play. It's too difficult in this league not to be prepared mentally and emotionally. You know, how high can you get?”
A win over Ohio State would go a long way for the Spartans in improving their position for a bowl game as the possibility for a potential trip to the Rose Bowl still remains if Michigan State wins out.
But in order to do that, Michigan State will have to slow down a high-octane offense led by sophomore Dwayne Haskins that ranks No. 3 in the country in passing offense (369.1 yards per game) and No. 5 in the country in total offense (547.2 yards per game) as the Buckeyes still remain in the mix for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Hoping to prevent a repeat from last year’s game, Dantonio said that he and his coaching staff are looking at a number of different things to prepare for Ohio State’s offense, from aspects of their coaching staff to the success the Buckeyes had against Michigan State a season ago.
“You look at everything,” he said. “You look at the six-game study. We've got a six-game study, looking back to 2012, different things and I'm sure that they do the same. We also look at what Indiana did against us because of (former Indiana head coach/current Ohio State offensive coordinator) Kevin Wilson being there. You know, you try to look at every imaginable thing. They do the same. I think they do a good job of coaching. They did some things last year that put us in conflict I think, some run/pass conflicts and things of that nature and then they broke tackles. Two good running backs, as I said earlier, and you know, they had their way last year.”
But even though the Spartans are now bowl eligible, Michigan State isn’t doing any settling as many of their goals remain in front of them as they look to improve their position for potential bowl games and a five-game winning streak to finish the year would be well within reach with a win over the Buckeyes.
“You get an extra month of practice, basically,” he said. “I don't know how much you use getting better or how much you use just to try and get ready for your opponent, I'm not sure on that, really, sometimes, just depending on the bowl game and the timeframe. I think it's a springboard to greater things. Even this year, winning six; now, can we win seven and then can you win eight and can you win nine? What is the pattern there, what can you do with what you've got? And really, in November, we'll always try to work towards a championship, that's our goal but if that goal doesn't happen, you're going to point towards another goal and with every win, you go up -- I think you go up a notch in terms of where you're playing and the experience that you're probably going to have at that bowl place and who you're going to play against.
“At the end of the day, you want to represent Michigan State.”
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