Coach: Spartans will 'play to win'

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- After a loss at Oregon two weeks ago, Michigan State may need to run the table to have a shot at making the inaugural college football playoff, but don't expect coach Mark Dantonio to rely on style points to get his 11th-ranked Spartans there.

"We are going to play to win, and after that is accomplished, we're going to try to get our younger players playing and develop experience and depth on this football team," Dantonio said. "I'm not interested in taking a timeout before the end of the game to get another seven points. I'm interested in playing the game the way it's supposed to be played and letting it go."

Michigan State (1-1) returns to the field Saturday to face Eastern Michigan and remain highly regarded despite the loss, as they are currently the highest-ranked team in the Big Ten. Now the question is whether the Spartans can do enough against their remaining opponents to earn a spot in college football's four-team playoff.

It may be hard for the Spartans to stay in the national consciousness until then, since they don't have any marquee games for the rest of this month.

They are 45½-point favorites Saturday, and it may be a little while before they're seriously tested again. They host Wyoming next week before opening Big Ten play with a huge game against Nebraska on Oct. 4.

If Michigan State wins the rest of its games and takes the Big Ten title, it would probably be part of the playoff conversation, although their conference is off to a poor start this season. And while the Spartans have a few weeks before they face a viable competitor, their schedule is not easy, as they must deal with having had an early bye week this season.

"Here we are at the beginning of the season with the bye after two games, that's very early in the process. And I think any time that's happening, you want to play," Dantonio said. "We want to be fresh. We want to be motivated to play and have great attention to detail, all those different things we talk about."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.