Matt Charboneau of The Detroit News breaks down Saturday's game between Michigan State (1-1) and Eastern Michigan (1-2) at Spartan Stadium:

Eastern Michigan players to watch

Rob Bolden, QB: The former Orchard Lake St. Mary's standout hasn't started since the Ticket City Bowl on Jan. 1, 2012 — as a sophomore at Penn State. He transferred to LSU and eventually Eastern Michigan for his final season of eligibility. He takes over for Brogan Roback after sparking the only scoring drive in a 17-3 loss at Old Dominion.

Bronson Hill, RB: The senior was a third-team all-Mid-American selection last season after running for 1,101 yards. He had 114 yards on 19 carries in an opening victory over Morgan State, the 10th time in his career he's gone over 100 yards. He'll get help from RBs Darius Jackson and Ryan Brumfield.

Tyreese Russell, TE: The senior entered this season on the Mackey Award watch list. He was also one of two Eagles named to the preseason all-Mid-American team by Athlon Sports. Through three games, Russell leads Eastern Michigan with nine catches for 71 yards.


Itching to get back: Michigan State had a bye after losing to Oregon on Sept. 6 and has been ready to get back on the field for some time. Michigan State hopes to follow the same pattern as last season when it had a bye after losing to Notre Dame and then ran the table.

No letdown: Preparing for Oregon and preparing for Eastern Michigan are different tasks, but it's up to Michigan State to avoid any sort of complacency. The last time the teams met, in 2012, the Eagles led 7-3 at halftime before the Spartans rallied for a 23-7 victory.

Bragging rights: It's not exactly Michigan State-Michigan, but it is a battle of state teams and one most players don't take lightly. Thirty-eight Spartans and 37 Eagles hail from Michigan. Eastern Michigan has never beaten Michigan State, but the extra bragging rights increase the chance that changes.

Position battles: Michigan State's first goal will be winning, but it also should be a chance for several players to solidify their starting spots and for others to make a name for themselves. Coach Mark Dantonio said plenty of young players will get a shot and defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi hinted at depth-chart changes.

Style points: Mark Dantonio insists he won't run the score up to try and impress the College Football Playoff selection committee, but the reality is Michigan State is not in an ideal position with one loss and the Big Ten perceived as a weak conference.

Facts and figures

* Senior WR Tony Lippett is averaging 150 receiving yards, good to lead the Big Ten and rank sixth in the nation. He had four catches and a career-high 167 yards in the opener followed by a career-high 11 catches for 133 yards against Oregon. He is the first Michigan Sate receiver with back-to-back 100-yard games since B.J. Cunningham in 2011.

* Junior QB Connor Cook is third in the Big Ten and 15th in the nation averaging 314 yards. Cook has thrown for more than 300 yards in three of the last four games. He is the fourth Michigan State quarterback to do so, joining Ed Smith (1978), Jeff Smoker (2001) and Drew Stanton (2004-05).

* Michigan State is 37-6 against Mid-American Conference teams, while Mark Dantonio is 8-1 at Michigan State. The only loss was a 29-27 setback to Central Michigan in 2009.

* Eastern Michigan allowed 65 points in a Week 2 loss at Florida but bounced back against Old Dominion as the defense gave up 10 points. The 10 points allowed by the defense were the fewest allowed by the Eagles since 14-10 victory over Western Michigan in 2011.

* Michigan State is averaging 36 points while Eastern Michigan is managing 11.3. The Eagles are allowing more than 500 yards offense, 116th in the country.