Michigan State head football coach Mark Dantonio discusses the Spartans' victory over Bowling Green, as well as their next opponent, Western Michigan. Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News


East Lansing — Michigan State understands as well as any team in the country that it’s not wise to take Western Michigan lightly.

While it’s been decades since the Broncos have beaten the Spartans, they have pushed their in-state foe more often than not. Just two seasons ago, Michigan State traveled to Kalamazoo and found itself in a battle before getting away with a 37-24 victory. In 2013, Western Michigan gave MSU a scare in East Lansing as the Spartans pulled out a 26-13 win.

It all made Michigan State an interested observer as Western Michigan opened the season last Saturday by taking No. 4 Southern Cal to the brink before falling short late in the game. That, along with the Broncos’ appearance in the Cotton Bowl last season, hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Spartans.

“I think it was impressive,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said of Western Michigan’s near-upset over the weekend. “They had an opportunity to beat the No. 4 team in the country. I thought it was also impressive that they hung right there and had a chance to win in the Cotton Bowl and, obviously, what they were able to accomplish last year.


“Go a little farther back in 2015 and our football game with them, just like every football game, was not just a walk in there and, ‘Hey, let’s go.’ It was extremely competitive. Their players are from this area of the country, predominantly, and they know a lot of our players and they’re gonna compete. And you can tell by how hard they play on film. It’s impressive, so it should be a great football game on Saturday.”

The teams kick off at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Spartan Stadium. Michigan State leads the series, 11-2.

At his weekly news conference, Dantonio said he came away from the win over Bowling Green happy with his team’s play overall, pointing out the play of quarterback Brian Lewerke, the young receiving corps and the defense’s play against the run.

Dantonio did offer up a vote of confidence for junior running back LJ Scott, who fumbled twice in the opener and averaged just 2.6 yards a carry.

“LJ Scott is a proven commodity,” Dantonio said. “He’s more frustrated than I am. … But I don’t worry about that being a problem.”

Dantonio also didn’t offer any information on defensive end Demetrius Cooper, who left the game with an injury but returned. He also said redshirt freshman quarterback Messiah deWeaver didn’t play because of a minor injury.