It’s been over a month since Michigan State won a football game, and the news off the field hasn’t been any better.

Now the Spartans are dealing with the loss of standout linebacker Joe Bachie, who was declared ineligible by the Big Ten after testing positive for a banned supplement.

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EVANSTON, ILLINOIS – SEPTEMBER 21: Joe Bachie #35 of the Michigan State Spartans intercepts a pass against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field on September 21, 2019 in Evanston, Illinois. Michigan State defeated Northwestern 31-10. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

“I’ve told our football team at times, it can always get worse,” said coach Mark Dantonio, trying to keep the Spartans’ problems in perspective. “It really can.”

Maybe so, but Michigan State has lost its last three games by a combined score of 100-17. The Spartans also had two open dates recently. Those weeks included news of players entering the transfer portal, plus Bachie’s penalty, which was announced last Thursday.

The school said it would file an appeal with the Big Ten, but with only four games remaining in the regular season, it’s not clear if Bachie will be able to play again for the Spartans.

“The appeal process is really something that I’m not really involved in,” Dantonio said. “That’s involved with the trainers and our athletic training staff, and the doctors, etc., and the Big Ten. So we’ll see how that shakes out.”

EAST LANSING, MI – OCTOBER 26: Head coach Mark Dantonio of the Michigan State Spartans shouts at an official during the first half of a game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Spartan Stadium on October 26, 2019 in East Lansing, Michigan. Penn State defeated Michigan State 28-7. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

Bachie, a senior, made the second team on the AP’s list of midseason All-Americans. Michigan State now lists sophomore Noah Harvey atop the depth chart at Bachie’s linebacker spot. Harvey has played in every game this season.

“Noah’s been practicing there, and he’s gotten game reps there,” Dantonio said. “He’s been in our nickel package in various places throughout the season, so he’s a seasoned player a little bit. He’s an outstanding athlete, can really run.”

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Five of Harvey’s seven tackles so far in 2019 came on special teams.

Dantonio also said center Matt Allen is out with an unspecified injury, and receiver Darrell Stewart will not play this weekend either. Dantonio said he expects them both back this year.

MADISON, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 12: Head coach Mark Dantonio of the Michigan State Spartans takes the field with his team prior to a game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium on October 12, 2019 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

As for Bachie, he’s still around, but he can’t play.

“Joe is still a part of our football team, comes to practices, and is basically a student coach,” Dantonio said. “Want him to be involved with us. Plans to be at the game on Saturday as well. He’s just ineligible to play right now.”

Michigan State hasn’t won since beating Indiana on Sept. 28. The Spartans (4-4) still have work to do if they’re going to qualify for a bowl, but their schedule is easing up after they lost to Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State in succession.

How they’ll perform against Illinois on Saturday is anyone’s guess, especially after they lost one of their top defensive players.

LINCOLN, NE – NOVEMBER 17: Head coach Mark Dantonio of the Michigan State Spartans walks on the field with the team before the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on November 17, 2018 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)

“Don’t take that ‘pity me’ type of attitude. We’ve got to move on,” Dantonio said. “We’ve got to get ready to go. We’ve got other people coming here to play.”

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