Spartans confident they can keep up against Oregon
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) Forget all that talk about Oregon's offense against Michigan State's defense.
If the Spartans have to score points in bunches to keep up with the Ducks, they feel they can do it.
''Sometimes you've got to do what you've got to do,'' coach Mark Dantonio said. ''Bottom line at the end of the game is do you win or do you lose? So whether we win 10-9 or 40-39 really makes no difference.''
The fifth-ranked Spartans host seventh-ranked Oregon on Saturday night in one of the most anticipated nonconference games of the year. It's the first time in nearly a half-century that two AP top 10 teams will play at Spartan Stadium, and it's a chance for Michigan State to avenge a 46-27 loss at Oregon last year.
The Spartans led in the third quarter of that game before the Ducks outscored them 28-0 the rest of the way.
''This is a huge game,'' Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams said. ''They're the No. 5 team in the nation, they're trying to get revenge from last year's team, they're playing at home.''
Oregon (1-0) is trying to get back to the national title game after losing to Ohio State a season ago. The Ducks and Buckeyes were the only two teams to beat Michigan State last year.
By now, the Spartans (1-0) should have a good idea of what to expect from Oregon and its fast-paced offense. Not only did Michigan State face the Ducks last year, the Spartans also finished the season with a 42-41 win over Baylor in the Cotton Bowl.
The Michigan State defense, so dominant in 2013 when the Spartans won the Big Ten, looked a bit more ordinary against Oregon and Baylor, but Dantonio's team feels more at home in high-scoring games now. The transformation began in the middle of the 2013 season, after Connor Cook established himself as the team's quarterback.
''Since then I think we've had enough firepower to be able to do those type of things, and defensively we've been pretty solid,'' Dantonio said.
The last time Spartan Stadium hosted two top-10 teams was in 1966, when No. 2 Michigan State and No. 1 Notre Dame played to a 10-10 tie.
Here are a few more things to watch when the Spartans and Ducks take the field:
FIRST BIG TEST: Both teams won their openers, and yes, they were both high scoring. Oregon beat Eastern Washington 61-42, and Michigan State defeated Western Michigan 37-24.
''We're preparing harder this week because we didn't do a great job last week. So we're preparing and getting ready to play a great game,'' Oregon cornerback Chris Seisay said earlier this week. ''Focus, practice harder, film, everything.''
QUARTERBACK MATCHUP: The Ducks lost Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota to the NFL, and transfer Vernon Adams threw for 246 yards and ran for 94 in his debut for Oregon last weekend.
This year it's Cook who enters this matchup with most of the hype. He's thrown for 49 touchdowns with only 15 interceptions in his Michigan State career.
STAR VS COMMITTEE: Oregon RB Royce Freeman ran for 180 yards on 21 carries in the opener. Michigan State, meanwhile, had three players with between nine and 13 carries in the Western Michigan game. LJ Scott, Madre London and Gerald Holmes combined for 190 yards on the ground.
STREAKS: Michigan State is trying for its 17th consecutive victory in a home opener - a streak that began in 1999 with a win over Oregon. The Ducks have thrown at least one TD pass in 69 consecutive games, tying a record set by Texas Tech from 2006-2011.
TIME OF POSSESSION: Ohio State ran the ball at will against Oregon in the national title game, and Michigan State - which has an imposing offensive line - may try to repeat that formula. Of course, the Spartans controlled the ball for 33:40 in last year's game against Oregon, and they still lost.