September 2, 2014 at 5:30 pm

Ducks understand hype for Spartans but won't get unruffled

Mark Helfrich was Oregon's offensive coordinator from 2009-12 before taking over for Chip Kelly as head coach. (Otto Greule Jr. / Getty Images)

East Lansing – Early Tuesday, Mark Dantonio talked about the excitement Michigan State feels entering this weekend’s showdown with No. 3 Oregon.

“I think we embrace those situations,” he said. “We’ve played in big games before, so that’s not new to us.”

By Tuesday afternoon, it was Oregon coach Mark Helfich’s turn to give his thoughts on the top-10 showdown Saturday in Eugene, Ore.

“If you can’t get excited to play against those guys, you’re in the wrong sport,” Helfrich said on a conference call. “I love Michigan State. I won’t like them on Saturday night, at all, but I love everything about them and it’s a huge challenge for our program. We have to put our guys in the best possible position and that is a huge challenge and a lot of fun.”

The Ducks are 13-point favorites for Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. game that will receive plenty of hype throughout the week, culminating with ESPN GameDay on Saturday morning.

But like Michigan State, Oregon will try and keep things business as usual, Helfrich said.

“It’s a national game and all that stuff,” he said, “but you can’t do too much differently. If it’s all drastically different, everyone is looking around wondering why we’re doing things different this week. Our guys know this is a quote-unquote big game, and we have nothing but respect for Michigan State.”