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Michigan State Football: Weekly Press Conference Coverage

NCAA Football: Central Michigan at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 20/19 Michigan State Spartans will host the Wildcats on Saturday at noon for their 103rd homecoming game. MSU improved to 3-1 after beating Central Michigan last weekend, 31-20, to wrap up the non-conference schedule.

The Spartans dominated for majority of the game before allowing the Chippewas to score seventeen unanswered points in what looked like a small comeback during the fourth quarter. MSU cannot afford to lose focus late in these contests, especially with the Big Ten season kicking in.

This will mark the 57th meeting between the two universities. The Spartans lead the all-time series 37-19. Last year, the Spartans lost to Northwestern on the road in overtime.

Michigan State will look forward to playing their second noon game in a row (at home), after starting the season with three straight night games.

NCAA Football: Central Michigan at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The Spartans rank first in the FBS in rushing defense, giving up 40.3 yards per game. Their 161 rushing yards allowed is the lowest total by a Power 5 team since 2008.

Dating back to last season, Michigan State has held opponents under 100 yards rushing in their last seven games.

“Well last year we were number two, so we’ll see if we can do that,” said Dantonio on his teams ability to stop the run. “I think these type of things are made up over the course of the season and we’re going into the heart of our season.”

Coach Dantonio addressed the media saying how his team is still searching for their identity. But they plan on finding it in the next four or five weeks.

“We’re building a wall, we’re not getting knocked off the ball, and we’re tackling well.”

The Wildcats will look to be the first team to flip the script on the Spartan defense and gash them for big plays on the ground as well as through the air.

Northwestern has won four-straight Big Ten road games, including a 31-27 victory at Purdue in the season opener. NW is also averaging 35.3 points per game in the same time frame. The Wildcats were very close to upsetting the Wolverines at home this past weekend, alluding to the fact that records don’t matter in this conference. Every team is going to challenge you according to Mark Dantonio.

“I don't care who you play, people prepare, and everybody expects to win. So I don’t know about a wounded bear, I just think everyone comes in thinking — we are going to compete.”

Offensively, the Spartans will continue to rely on Brian Lewerke to lead his team to victory.

In the past, Coach Dantonio has liked his quarterbacks to be conservative in terms of their decision making. He realizes Lewerke has the ability to make big plays downfield but also acknowledges the high reward / high risk that comes with it.

“I think Brian gives us the best chance and opportunity to have that. To have that perfection at the end of a particular play.”

In football, there will always be inconsistencies when it comes to the quarterback. He carries the load for the offense and is the face of his team.

“I think the quarterback gets more than his share of praise, so does the head coach when we win. They also get more than their share of criticism when things don’t go quite as well,” said Dantonio at the podium this morning.

As a Coach, Dantonio says he understands the challenges that accompany Brian while playing quarterback. He wants his guy to know mistakes are day to day not cumulative. He’ll always allow him to have a clean slate going from game to game.

NCAA Football: Central Michigan at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Depth Chart / Injury Notes

  • Brandon Sowards will start on offense in place of Cody White. He’ll also be returning punts for the Spartans.
  • Offensive Line - Higby or Chewins at LT; Jarvis or Campbell at RG; Beedle at LG; Allen at C; and Reid at RT.
  • Cam Chambers is expected to play and contribute right away.
  • Josiah Scott still isn’t practicing but Dantonio says he is very close.