EAST LANSING - If Michigan State is going to upset #1 Ohio State (7-0) it must contain the Buckeyes run attack and eliminate the big plays that it has allowed throughout the season.
In his weekly press conference, MSU head coach Mark Dantonio talked about MSU's upset of then #1 OSU in 1998.
"I would use (that game) as a motivational tool in the fact that you can get things done. We were 28 point underdogs at that time. They were the No. 1 ranked team, and we were a 4-4 team at that time. We went down there, and Julian Peterson sort of had a breakout game as I remember, and it came down towards the end and they had four shots at the end zone. We had five sacks. Turnovers are obviously key to any game, so we played very well in that area and came up with some turnovers, and we didn't turn it over."
Dantonio knows, though, that things are different this time around.
"But these are different football teams, and it's a different time. Coach Tressel is very, very good about not letting his players get too far ahead of themselves and keeping them current and keeping them focused on the task at hand. He is very, very good at that."
The Spartans (5-2) regained their identity last week with a smashmouth 52-27 win over Indiana. The Spartans simply ran at, over and through the Hoosiers en route to an impressive win that had old time Spartans brimming with pride and made Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel sit up and take notice.
"We know, as we watch Michigan State on film, you look at their offensive numbers and they're very, very good," said Tressel. "They do a great job of doing the things we like to do and that's leading with the run and controlling the tempo of the game and controlling the clock and all those things."
The OSU coach said in particular, they've notice the play of running back Jehuu Caulcrick, junior Javon Ringer and quarterback Brian Hoyer.
"They pound two running backs at you. They do it with an efficient quarterback. Hoyer is, I think, in second place passing efficiency in the conference and he's done a good job of throwing. We really liked Hoyer when he was in high school. He was in our youth camp. He was excellent and we think he's a very, very fine player."
Dantonio and his staff are aware of what Ohio State brings to the table having recruited extensively the state of Ohio and many of the players who are on the Buckeyes roster.
"I've been with Coach (Jim) Tressel for, I guess, about 11 years of coaching, including my graduate assistant years at Ohio State. Obviously, he's a great teacher and mentor, and he has his team playing very, very well. When I look at them, you see a very, very quick and explosive defense, ranking number one in almost everything throughout the conference and up there in the nation too. Offensively, they're very, very solid."
Dantonio talked about Ohio State's roster and what they bring to the table.
"The thing that I guess is a good thing for us is that we are so current with them (from a personnel standpoint). We played them twice when I was there at Cincinnati, so it's not the first time I've been down there as a head coach. We know their personnel."
Usually as we get into a game on Mondays, you're trying to figure out your opponent's personnel. We know that Alex Boone, Steve Rehring, Ben Person, Jim Cordle and Kirk Barton are the offensive line. We know Rory Nicol and Jake Ballard are their two tight ends. We know the receiving corps: Brian Hartline, Ray Small and Brian Robiskie. (Quarterback) Todd Boeckman was there when I was there as a gray shirt, so we know their offense very well," Dantonio said.
"We know their defense in the same way. I could repeat all the names again to you. And certainly they play some of the same things that we had played earlier when I was there.
So Ohio State is a very well coached team and they have very, very good players. They're operating on all cylinders down there and rank No. 1 in the country," said Dantonio.
While the Spartans are very aware of the Buckeyes and their personnel, they're going to need an extraordinary effort to upset them on their home turf. GSN outlines the keys to upsetting the Buckeyes in our gameday article.
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