The Road gets Tougher

Pittsburgh will come to East Lansing with a vendetta: revenge for a 31-23 drubbing at home last season. The Spartans will look to shut down a Pitt team that should keep things simple on offense with a third string quarterback and an impressive running attack.

The competition level ticks up a notch this week for Michigan State.

Coming off wins against mid-majors UAB and Bowling Green, the Spartans face their first opponent from a BCS conference – Pittsburgh.

Led by former NFL coach Dave Wannstedt, the Panthers, who average 316 pounds across the offensive line, will look to pull off an upset in East Lansing.

"I think Dave Wannstedt does an outstanding job there. They're a 2 and 0 team right now, so it should be a pretty exciting weekend," Mark Dantonio said at his weekly press conference.

Wannstedt realizes the talent level his team will face is much stronger as well. "These guys (Michigan State) are a physical team," he said. "They run the ball and their quarterback is really talented. They've got a tight end that will be a high draft pick and they've got a big receiver who makes a lot of plays, so we're facing a talented football team on both sides of the ball."

That tight end Wannstedt loses sleep over is senior Kellen Davis, who is the team's second leading receiver with five catches for 67 yards and one TD.

But what should really concern Wannstedt is the two-headed Spartan monster at running back with Javon Ringer and Jehuu Caulcrick. In last season's game, Ringer, Caulcrick and former QB Drew Stanton led the team to a 335-yard explosion on the ground.

"Both of those guys (Ringer and Caulcrick) have the ability to run through arm tackles and they both have very good quickness and they both can catch the ball well. The thing that jumps out at me is the toughness and the ability to break tackles after being hit," Wannstedt said.

Despite the difficulties his Panthers faced last season against Michigan State, this year, with a more seasoned, well-conditioned team, Wannstedt likes his chances.

"I thought that last year we got worn down as the game went on," he said. "It was a combination of three things: No. 1 the size and strength, No. 2 our conditioning and No. 3 our experience. I think this year we're better in all three of those phases. We're in great shape; I think our players believe that. We're a little stronger and because we have so many guys coming back we should have some more experience and be a little bit smarter."

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