Dantonio Talks “Program Game” vs Nebraska

No more cupcake games for the Spartans.

After scoring 73 points against Eastern Michigan, and 56 points against Wyoming in back-to-back weeks, the red-hot MSU offense will see their first conference action against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, who are ranked no. 19 in the AP Poll, and no. 17 in the USA Today Poll.

In his weekly news conference, head coach Mark Dantonio spoke about the emerging rivalry between MSU and Nebraska. The Spartans, who defeated the Huskers in Lincoln, Neb. last year, will face a 5-0 Nebraska team at 8 p.m. this Saturday at Spartan Stadium. The game will be nationally broadcast on ABC.

Dantonio discussed his team’s offensive success against Wyoming and how that can translate against a tougher opponent like Nebraska.


“As far as where we’re at as an offensive football team, we’re doing the things we need to do,” Dantonio said, adding that the penalties against Wyoming were out of character for the Spartans. “I don’t care who you play, you put up 72 points or 73 points, that’s a lot of production.”

Defensively, Michigan State has not seen as much success as they have in recent years.  Dantonio did not appear to be too concerned about the defensive breakdowns against Wyoming.


“Our defense is not broke. I know we gave up 14 whopping points last week, but our defense is not broke,” Dantonio said.

He also mentioned that Michigan State’s defense is second in the conference at stopping the run. Compared to the non-conference season in 2013, there has been significantly less fewer big plays by the defense and significantly more breakdowns. But Dantonio appears confident in the defense’s ability to adjust and fix their mistakes.

After wrapping up non-conference play, Michigan State looks to find their identity as they begin their Big Ten season. Certainly, Nebraska will not be the same type of competition that Jacksonville State, Eastern Michigan and Wyoming were.


“Our focus has got to be to bring energy every single game and treat them all the same,” Dantonio said. “I think competition level is going to be higher. We expect that and we acknowledge that. But we’ve played in those environments before.”

The Spartans will play at night for the 16th time at Spartan Stadium on Saturday.  Dantonio is currently 7-2 when playing in night games in Spartan Stadium. This upcoming game is a big one for MSU, given that Nebraska is still unbeaten and it marks the beginning of conference play. Having it played under the lights only adds to the luster of the game.


“Spartan Stadium comes alive every Saturday, but I think especially at night games,” Dantonio said. “It’s a big game. It’s going to be very loud in there, especially when they have the ball.  It’s a program game, I think.

Bradley Allen is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports

Photo: David Defever/Impact Sports