MSU's Chris Frey, Matt Sokol, Brian Allen and Brian Lewerke talk about heading to Michigan to take on the No. 7 Wolverines. Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News


East Lansing — Michigan State has one of the youngest rosters in the Big Ten, and that youth is about to dive into a rivalry that is usually the most physical game on the schedule.

Of course, that is the Michigan State-Michigan rivalry and the Spartans’ young players will get a quick dose of what it means to play for the Paul Bunyan Trophy when the teams square off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Michigan Stadium.

“It's a great venue. It's fun to play down there at times. Sometimes it's not, OK, but it goes both ways, I'm sure,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said on Tuesday. “In this type of game, I think for young players, I think they get a sense of what's going on probably after the first or second snap. They will figure it out. You can talk about it and try and educate them about it, but at the end of the day, you have to experience some things to really feel it.

“But I think they will feel it after a couple plays and they will settle in.”

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MSU head coach Mark Dantonio talks about playing on the road at Michigan, new starting QB John O'Korn, and the rivalry. Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News

That’s where players like Brian Allen and Chris Frey come in, two seniors that have beaten Michigan a couple of times, including in Ann Arbor. They do their best to tell the freshmen what it’s like, but there’s nothing like playing.

“People don’t know what it’s like to play in this game until you’ve played in it,” Allen said. “It’s a huge game, something we look forward to all year. It’s different than any other game we’ll play in.”

And Dantonio won’t try and tell his players this is just any other game.

Like most rivalries, this one means a little more.

“I think coaches know what game is important. They understand. They can stand up here and say, ‘Well, this is just another football game,’ but it's not,” Dantonio said. “We play in a championship game; it's not just another football game. You play in a rivalry game; it's not just another football game. It means more. It means more for your fans. It means more to the players on your team. It just means more.”