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Spartans regroup before big battle against Buckeyes

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing – While most of the college football world was focusing on the first set of rankings released by the College Football Playoff selection committee, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio was focused on other things.

Even with his Spartans in the thick of the playoff race, he was busy recruiting during Michigan State's bye week and starting to turn the team's attention to next week's showdown with Ohio State.

It is, in his mind, the perfect time for a week off after last week's victory over Michigan.

"I think it is, coming off an emotional game and healing up and allowing us a little more time to focus on our next task," Dantonio said on the Big Ten teleconference Tuesday, "and really organize ourselves systematically across the board from our end. It will have nothing really to do with Ohio State. Just critiquing ourselves, change some things and look at ourselves a little bit further, and from a recruiting perspective as well."

While Michigan State gets the week off, Ohio State has to take on Illinois Saturday night before turning its focus to the Spartans.

The Buckeyes had to pull one out last week at Penn State, leading 17-0 before allowing the Nittany Lions to tie the game in regulation and take a lead in overtime, only to come back and win in double-overtime.

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said Monday that kind of test should help next week at Spartan Stadium.

"It's not a good thing. It's a great thing," Meyer said. "It's not just the atmosphere. You're down by several points in that environment – don't look to anyone else for help. There's 11 guys out there, have to score a touchdown, and they did. And there's incredible efforts; there's not much energy left. But invested players and invested teams really celebrate wins, and our guys did.

"So, there's no question (it helps). Not just environment, but the toughness element that you just were in a street fight, and you're winning. You started getting your tail kicked and you came back and won. That builds toughness."