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Scouting report: Gophers vs. No. 21 Michigan State

7 p.m. Saturday, TCF Bank Stadium (BTN, 100.3-FM)

A look at the Spartans

Coming off an appearance in the College Football Playoff semifinals in 2015, Michigan State fell hard last year, tumbling to a 3-9 record that included a 1-8 Big Ten mark. The Spartans (4-1, 2-0 Big Ten) served notice they are back by first edging Iowa 17-10 and then forcing five Michigan turnovers in a 14-10 victory at Ann Arbor. The win was Michigan State’s eighth in the past 10 games against the Wolverines. “We’ve done it eight times,’’ Spartans coach Mark Dantonio said. “I don’t know why there’s a lot of doubt.’’

Player to watch: Joe Bachie, LB

Michigan quarterback John O'Korn is sacked by Michigan State linebacker Joe Bachie during the first half of last week's game.
Michigan quarterback John O'Korn is sacked by Michigan State linebacker Joe Bachie during the first half of last week's game.

Carlos Osorio, Associated Press

The sophomore middle linebacker earned Big Ten defensive player of the week honors for his big game against Michigan, in which he made 10 tackles (six solo) and had a sack, an interception, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. The physical 6-2, 233-pounder is the leading tackler for a unit that ranks second in the Big Ten and fourth nationally in total defense (258.6 yards allowed per game).

From the coach: Mark Dantonio

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio

Before the season, there was speculation that Dantonio could be on the hot seat because of last year’s struggles and sexual assault charges that led to three players being kicked off the team. Instead, the Spartans are a player in the Big Ten East. “Right now, we’re successful. It’s a day-to-day thing,’’ Dantonio said. “We’ve got to make sure we handle success as much as anything right now because we’ve had two big wins. We’ve got to get ready for a tough game up in Minnesota.’’

Randy Johnson