No. 21 Michigan State’s loss at home last Saturday night to No. 11 Notre Dame was flat-out embarrassing.
Whether in the end it was a case of the Fighting Irish (3-0) being just that good, or the Spartans (2-1) playing just that bad is perhaps something that only time will tell as the season rolls on.
One thing is for sure though, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio isn’t happy about his team’s poor performance during their last outing, and now, he aims to make sure his team re-evaluates and re-establishes themselves as a dominant football team.
“We want to play Eastern Michigan very tough and we want to make a statement. And that’s what our players will do,” Dantonio said at his weekly press conference. “This will be about us and about who we are as a football team.”
Only problem is, Eastern Michigan, well… they just may not be the team for the Spartans to look to re-establish themselves against.
The Eagles took a brutal beating at the hands of Purdue last weekend with a crushing 54-16 loss and remain win-less so far this season. For a ranked team like Michigan State, squashing EMU in Spartan Stadium would relate to something more along the lines of an elephant casually stepping onto a mouse.
Regardless of the daunting task in front of him with his team heading into East Lansing this Saturday, Eastern Michigan head coach Ron English thinks that there were a few bright spots to remain positive about in their loss to Purdue.
“We played 67 really good snaps on defense and eight bad snaps. We’re just not experienced enough in the back end to overcome that,” English said. “On one hand you feel better about that, but on the other hand it’s frustrating to know that you’re close to playing good on defense.”
Last week, MSU running back Le’Veon Bell, the Heisman-hopeful and star athlete for the Spartans, had a disappointing effort with a mere 17 carries for 77 yards rushing and no touchdowns. This weekend, look for the big-time RB to post record numbers against the Eagles due to Eastern Michigan’s atrocious run defense.
EMU statistically has the worst run defense in the FBS, having allowed 937 yards in just three games, and with a weapon like Bell at his disposal, MSU quarterback Andrew Maxwell might not need to throw even a single pass for the Spartans to draw a victory.
Still, Ron English knows how important the task of containing Bell will be despite the numbers and the odds being stacked against his team.
“He’s just a big athlete that can run and can be physical,” English said about Bell. “I just think you got to stop him with numbers and you got to really grab when you tackle because he’s proven early this year and last year as well that he can break tackles.”
No. 21 Michigan State (2-1) hosts Eastern Michigan (0-3) Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Spartan Stadium.
You can follow MSU Examiner, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.