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After OSU loss, Michigan State has plenty left to play for

The Spartans can get to 10 wins, and potentially earn a New Year's Six bowl with a win over Penn State

Michigan State’s disappointing showing, and ultimate defeat, at Ohio State ended the team’s hopes of capturing a Big Ten East division title and a shot at a conference championship.

However, the Spartans still have plenty to play for as they welcome Penn State to Spartan Stadium in their regular season finale this weekend. It will be ‘Senior Day’ for Michigan State, and a win would keep the Spartans in contention for a New Year’s Six bowl berth.

“We have a home game, we’re undefeated at home and we have our seniors – it’s going to be their last time in Spartan Stadium and the Woodshed,” said Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker.

“I told them we have some good teams to play left, because we’ve had a good year. We’ve got Penn State coming in, which is a very good team. And then, whoever we play next is going to be a good team. So, we have good teams left to play.”

Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne, a redshirt sophomore, noted the importance of this final game in ‘The Woodshed’, citing a desire to send the Spartan seniors out the door as winners at home.

“We’ve got ‘Senior Day’ at our place against a really good team,” Thorne said. “We’re going to have to have a good week of preparation for them. There’s no overlooking them. We know how good of a team they are. They’re a good football team. They’ve got a lot of good players too, and we’re going to try to send our seniors out the right way for their last home game at our place.”

Following the game on Saturday, Tucker credited the Buckeyes for outperforming the Spartans in every facet of the game. The head coach said his team will watch film and learn from mistakes made in Columbus, and work to improve as the season winds down.

“Give Ohio State credit,” Tucker said. “They outplayed us. We didn’t do what we needed to do. Give them credit and then we need to get better and move on.”

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Tucker, his staff and his players won’t ignore what happened on Saturday. They won’t ‘burn the tape’, they’ll watch the tape and try to get better from it.

“When you’re in this game long enough, as a player or as a coach, you’re going to have days like this. It’s just inevitable. It’s going to happen,” Tucker said.

“You don’t want it to happen, you do everything you can to avoid it, and I hope this never happens again. But, if it does, or when things like this do happen, it’s all about how you respond. It’s all about how you handle yourself. It’s all about having class, having some maturity, keeping your head up, staying focused, blocking out the noise and looking to get better.”

A win this weekend over the Nittany Lions would give Michigan State its first 10-win season since 2017, a fine accomplishment in Tucker’s second season with the program.

As the head coach and his staff seek new, talented prospects to join the program this offseason, a 10-2 record and a New Year’s Six bowl game would go a long way in showing potential recruits the steep trajectory of this program.

The loss to Ohio State ended the Spartans conference championship hopes, but it didn’t end Michigan State’s season. The Spartans are banged up with numerous injuries, including undisclosed injuries to Kenneth Walker III, Jayden Reed and Xavier Henderson.

But Tucker said Michigan State will brush themselves off, have a good week of preparation and get ready to close their season out on a high note against Penn State.

“We have to get as healthy as we possibly can, and we have to get back on track and get ready to go again,” Tucker said. “We’ll continue to work to improve our team and get as healthy as we possibly can and get ready for this next game.”