By Ashley Dunkak
@AshleyDunkak

CBS DETROIT – By the time Michigan State takes the field Saturday against Eastern Michigan, the Spartans will have had two weeks to stew about a disappointing loss to Oregon. That does not bode well for the Eagles (1-2), whom Florida dismantled, 65-0, earlier this season.

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Nevertheless, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio insisted Tuesday that the Spartans will not overlook Eastern Michigan.

“In 2012 we were down 7-6 at half,” Dantonio said. “I think we were 30-point favorites. Our guys need to come ready to play. If there’s a message out of this press conference, that would be the message.

“We didn’t win on the last time we came out, so the focus is to win a football game,” Dantonio added. “Eastern Michigan [will] come here, they have a lot of guys from the state of Michigan, usually when you play in-state you’re going to up your game a little bit. I think they put a premium on toughness in their program … I understand the situation completely, but I know that they’ll play hard … They may make some mistakes but they play hard. Any time you do that, you always have a chance.”

Still ranked 11th nationally, Michigan State is still a contender for the playoff, albeit as more of a dark horse now after losing to Oregon. If the opportunity presents itself for Michigan State to run the score up on Eastern Michigan – and most assume that opportunity will indeed be present – Dantonio said the Spartans would not take advantage.

“We’re not going to run – we’re going to play to win the football game,” Dantonio said. “End of story on that. We’re going to play to win, and after that is accomplished – in any game after that is accomplished – we’re going to try and get our younger players playing and develop experience and depth on this football team. That’s how we play it here.

“I’m not interested in taking a timeout before the end of the game to get another seven points,” Dantonio added. “I’m interested in playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played and letting it go. But we will play hard, and we’ll come ready to play, and if we hand the ball off to somebody, I expect them to run hard and try and score a touchdown.”

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Dantonio’s comment about taking a timeout in the fourth quarter brought to mind Oregon’s score with 1:25 remaining in the game against Michigan State. The Ducks took a timeout before the touchdown, which ultimately stretched Oregon’s margin of victory from 12 points to 19 points.

While not quite pardoning Oregon for cushioning its lead late, Dantonio indicated he understood the team’s rationale.

“I think they called a timeout because they decided to go for it on fourth and two, and I think it just sort of happened that they scored the touchdown,” Dantonio said. “It happened, we’ve got to deal with it, but I think it was probably the smart thing to do rather than risk a field goal, possible block, et cetera, and it happened that they scored the touchdown, but no, I didn’t hold it against them or anything like that.”

With Dantonio’s stance on running up the score clear, it made sense that the coach said he expects younger players to get more time in the Eastern Michigan game, just as they did in the season opener against Jacksonville State.

“I’m not sure that they’re going to be in starting positions, but they’re going to have opportunities to play more often,” Dantonio said. “I think sometimes you go into the game and always talk about how you’re going to play the players but you get into the game itself, and especially in a big game like the Oregon game, you’re a little bit leery to go in a different direction just to give somebody a break because you think that maybe there may be a breakdown … I anticipate younger players playing, some of our redshirt freshmen, some of our freshmen guys playing, especially on the defensive side of the ball.”

Though Michigan State had a bye this weekend, the school still got some attention because of a collection of former Spartans quarterbacks. Kirk Cousins, Drew Stanton and Brian Hoyer all led their respective NFL teams to wins Sunday, as did Nick Foles, who started his college career with Michigan State.

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“That’s a statement to Michigan State football, what they’ve been able to accomplish individually and then as a group just being from Michigan State,” Dantonio said. “You sort of look at that, and young people look at our program, they have to be able to sit there and say, ‘Yeah, if we come to Michigan State, we can have great success, we can go on to play at the highest level and be successful at that level as well.”