No. 8 Michigan State took care of business with a 45-7 win over Jacksonville State Saturday in a game that might appear to have been as mundane as No. 3 Oregon's 62-13 win over South Dakota at Autzen Stadium.
However, there was more to it for the Spartans. They had a chance to get a tune-up against a high-powered, fast-paced offense in preparation for the Ducks (1-0) this Saturday at Autzen.
MSU's rehearsal went pretty well.
MSU (1-0) held Jacksonville Sate, ranked No. 8 in the preseason FCS poll, to 244 yards of offense. Most importantly, the Spartans destroyed the Gamecocks' rushing attack, holding them to 22 yards on 25 attempts.
Despite some sloppy play, MSU coach Mark Dantonio told reporters Sunday that his team could take a lot from its performance.
"Some of the aspects that they do are similar to Oregon's," he said. "Certainly just playing a fast up-tempo offense and they're trying to go as fast as they possibly can, so they were going around 12 or 13 or 14 seconds, as well. So you get that experience of it, and that's a conditioning factor I think as much as anything as I talked about earlier. But there's no question, as we take the next look to the next game, Oregon is very talented."
Getting a taste of that style of offense helped MSU gauge where its conditioning is.
"Well, you're always concerned when you play a no huddle offense that sooner or later guys run out of gas a little bit and you see that on the film, and that as much as anything would be concerning," Dantonio said. "That leads to missed tackles, that leads to people getting on top of you in the deep part of coverage, you know, getting knocked off the ball. So from a defensive perspective you continually have to address the conditioning factor, but this was our first game in that aspect. We played against this type of offense before, so you get better as you do it more often, but this is our first real test there."
From Oregon's perspective, it must be concerned with MSU's running game. The Spartans gained 211 yards on the ground on Saturday. But Dantonio wasn't pleased with his team's performance in that area. Offensive lineman Travis Jackson was injured in the game and after he left, Dantonio felt that the Gamecocks had too much success penetrating gaps.
Jackson's status for the Oregon game was unknown Sunday night.
Dantonio said he watched the Ducks' win over the Coyotes on cable television.
"It was [channel] 717 in case you wanted to know," he quipped.
Now the goal for MSU is making sure Oregon doesn't rattle off 717 yards of offense against its defense.
Preparation to prevent that began during the summer.
"We always do advance work on every football team that we play in the late spring and early summer," he said. "That's just what we do. So naturally because Oregon was an early game, just like all the early games, and it was a new opponent, we spent additional time."