While Central Michiganenters Saturday night’s game against No. 18/21 ranked Michigan State with a 1-3 record, the Spartans aren’t taking the Chippewas lightly as they look to improve to 3-1 on the 2018 season.
Despite Central Michigan not being a “traditional” rival for the Spartans, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio called Saturday’s game a rivalry-type game and added that while Central Michigan’s record sits at 1-3, that doesn’t tell the entire story about the Chippewas this season.
“CMU this week, comes in, it's always been a big game for us, rivalry-game type thing,” he said. “Going all the way back, there have been some great games. Right now they are a 1-3 football team. I don't think that's indicative of who they are, good concepts. Coach Bonamego does an outstanding job getting his guys ready to play. A lot of guys on their roster from the state of Michigan, much like ours, so you have an instant rivalry-type situation, in terms of guys have played against each other in high school and that type of thing. They have played Kentucky, played Kentucky tough. I felt the game at halftime, they were right there, I think I believe ahead of them, played Northern Illinois tough, played Kansas and game got away from them a little bit because of turnovers and they defeated Maine this past weekend. I'm sure that they will be ready to play and we'll take some questions on that in a second.”
The Spartans are 7-3 all-time series against Central Michigan and are riding a three-game winning streak in the matchup, but Central Michigan did come away with a 29-27 upset win over Michigan State back in 2009.
When watching the Chippewas on film, Spartan quarterback Brian Lewerke said that he sees a defense that mixes up its coverages well and said he has to be ready to identify those coverages on the fly when he’s out on the field on Saturday.
“They run a variety of defenses or coverages,” he said. “They’re an over-front team, they run Cover 4, Cover 3, Cover 1, all of the above. So you just have to recognize it when you get out on the field.”
One of the biggest advantages the Michigan State offense should have on Saturday afternoon will feature wide receiver Felton Davis, going up against the Central Michigan secondary, that has played well this season, but is relatively young, as the Chippewas have just one senior in their defensive backfield.
Davis told Spartan Nation that he’s not overlooking the Central Michigan defense going into Saturday’s game, but maintains confident on a week-to-week basis.
“Everybody’s got athleticism, I try and treat everybody the same,” he said. “I personally feel like there shouldn’t be anybody that can guard you, not the best, Richard Sherman. I’m not calling Richard Sherman or anything, but I’m just saying, you can line anybody up and I feel like I can take them.”
But as the Spartans look to close out their non-conference schedule on a high-note, Lewerke said a fast start will be a major key into holding down an upset-minded Central Michigan squad.
“We just have to make sure we come out hot,” he said. “Try and carry the intensity that we got from the win last week and bring it to this one. Come right out of the gate ready to go.”
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