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Dantonio calls Ohio State game a playoff situation

November 16, 2015
<p>Head coach Mark Dantonio looks onto the field on Oct. 17, 2015 during the second quarter of the game against Michigan at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. The Spartans defeated the Wolverines, 27-23. </p>

Head coach Mark Dantonio looks onto the field on Oct. 17, 2015 during the second quarter of the game against Michigan at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. The Spartans defeated the Wolverines, 27-23.

Photo by Alice Kole | The State News

Head coach Mark Dantonio said he had his team “focus on the moment” to defeat Maryland 24-7, but he called the game ahead a “playoff situation” during his press conference on Saturday.

“We have an opportunity to let it sit for 24 hours here and then get ready for Ohio State down in Columbus,” Dantonio said.

The 43rd match-up between MSU and Ohio State might be the team's most highly-anticipated game to date, though nowadays that seems to be the case each year, and the players know it.

“We usually wouldn't watch film tonight, but I can promise that I will be watching it,” sophomore linebacker Jon Reschke said.“I think all of us have been looking forward to the next game all season. The taste that we have in our mouths after losing to them last year, it's going to be big. I'm excited.”

MSU fell to the Buckeyes 49-37 on Nov. 8 last year, giving the Spartans their second loss of the season and dropping them out of the playoff race. The Buckeyes then went on to win the NCAA National Championship. This year, a late-November scheduling will provide for an even more implicated make-or-miss game.

“Been looking forward to it all year, truthfully,” sophomore defensive tackle Malik McDowell said.

McDowell finished with eight tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble against Maryland. McDowell and the Spartans’ defense will face a Heisman Trophy candidate in Ezekiel Elliott on Saturday, as well as two proven quarterbacks in J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones.

“We're going to practice this week as hard as we can to try and get ready for (Ohio State),” sophomore safety Montae Nicholson said.

MSU hopes to have fifth-year senior quarterback Connor Cook healthy after injuring his right shoulder against Maryland, but Dantonio and his coaching staff said they are confident Cook will be able to play in Columbus.

And with a healthy Cook and a developing defense, the College GameDay set in attendance will surely be broadcasting more than just its third MSU game of the season.

Four teams in the College Football Playoff, or CFP, top 10 lost this past weekend, which bolsters the Spartans chances of a playoff run, but only the winner of Saturday’s game will have a chance at the No. 1 trophy.

“Whether we were 10-0 going into that game, or 9-1, we were going to control our own destiny,” Dantonio said. ”We are to that point.”

The Spartans and Buckeyes will kick off at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 21, airing on ABC/ESPN. 

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