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Dantonio: Ninth league game will help Big Ten in playoff race

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Mark Dantonio

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio has made it clear: His team’s goal is to repeat as Big Ten champions and get another shot at the College Football Playoff.

The Spartans will have some holes to fill this season, but getting that playoff spot could be tougher for all Big Ten teams as the conference begins a nine-game schedule this fall. It’s part of an overall plan for Big Ten teams to strengthen their schedules in the playoff era.

The downside is that not every conference is following suit, possibly putting Big Ten teams at a disadvantage.

However, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio looks at it a bit differently.

“I would say that the champion of our league probably gets in the playoffs because of it,” Dantonio said Thursday on the Big Ten’s spring conference call. “Providing they can get through it with only one loss. I think it’s gonna give us more credible conference scheduling and things of that nature. Whoever the champion is in the Big Ten conference, providing they not lose two games -- possibly even two games gets you in depending on everybody else -- but right now it seems like one (loss). I do think they have an excellent chance of getting in whoever that champion is.”

Michigan State got in last season with one loss but had road wins over Ohio State and Michigan before knocking off unbeaten Iowa in the Big Ten championship game.

Teams in the East Division this season will have five conference home games while those in the West will have just four. That flips next season with the West gaining the advantage in home games.

“It will be a little different,” Dantonio said. “But it’s a sign of the times and we’re looking to try and move forward and play more teams from the Power Five conferences. It will be very competitive and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”