‘We’re in control’: Exceeding expectations not enough for MSU

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Mark Dantonio

East Lansing – Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said he heard someone say the Spartans are playing with house money.

He’s just not so sure about that.

The 13th-ranked Spartans head to Columbus on Saturday to take on No. 11 Ohio State in a game that could decide who wins the Big Ten East and earns a spot in the conference championship game. And while most wouldn’t have predicted before the season Michigan State (7-2, 5-1 Big Ten) would be in this spot, it is, which means there’s plenty on the line.

“We’re in control right now,” Dantonio said at his weekly press conference Tuesday. “So, we do have a lot to lose. We’re excited we have this opportunity but we’ve worked for this opportunity and channeled everything to get to November.

More: Reeling Ohio State expects ‘prize fight’ vs. MSU

“Every game as we go through November, every single game we play becomes bigger. This is a big game this week, I understand that. But the next week will be an even bigger game.”

Michigan State will go into the game without sophomore cornerback Josh Butler.

Butler’s father, Steven, died suddenly last weekend and Butler has been handling most of the arrangements for his family. He will be back in Texas Saturday for the funeral and will miss the Ohio State game.

“Josh is hanging in there,” Dantonio said. “You can imagine how difficult that is at 20 years old."

Butler has started four games this season, including last week against Penn State. He’ll likely be replaced by sophomore Justin Layne, who has started five games.