EAST LANSING - Michigan has grown to as much as a 24-point favorite. Michigan State is on a five-game losing streak and so banged up it did not release a depth chart.
None of that fazes Mark Dantonio as the Spartans prepare to face No. 2 Michigan (noon Saturday/ESPN).
“Can we win? Yeah, we can win. I firmly believe that,” Dantonio told reporters Tuesday. “I know none of you do, but that's why I'm coaching."
MSU is on its longest losing streak since 1991 and its first 0-4 start to Big Ten play since 1982. The Spartans admit to having problems in a number of areas, from lack of offensive production to inability to prevent third downs and big plans on defense to a glut of injuries that has a number of positions on both sides of the ball in flux.
Still, MSU arrives at a pivotal point of its downtrodden season with players admitting they want to play spoiler to the heavily favored Wolverines (7-0, 4-0) and their dreams of winning Big Ten and national titles.
“This week is a huge week for us...,” said MSU senior linebacker Riley Bullough, who was ejected in the first quarter of Saturday’s 28-17 loss at Maryland. “We’re doing everything we can to get back to our roots & the way we have been in previous years.”
Dantonio said it remains undecided who the Spartans will start at quarterback. Redshirt freshman Brian Lewerke has started the past two games, and senior Tyler O’Connor was “nicked up” last week for the Maryland game, Dantonio said.
“It’s probably a game-time decision based on how the week goes in terms of whether it’s his play, others’ play or, quite frankly, some injury situations,” Dantonio said.
For the first time in Dantonio’s 10-year tenure, MSU did not release a depth chart. The coach said it was due to a number of injuries the Spartans are experiencing.
Coincidentally, that’s something Michigan hasn’t done at all this season.
MSU isn’t the first team to take a jab at U-M coach Jim Harbaugh’s decision to not release a depth chart. Colorado peppered its pregame list with famous people before its 45-28 loss to the Wolverines on Sept. 17.
(2016 © Detroit Free Press)