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"I saw a challenge," he said. "I saw a chance to showcase ourselves and to play in a stadium I've seen a lot on TV."
For Michigan State, this isn't exactly a game to circle on the calendar, but the Spartans have had to work hard this week to avoid a letdown after the Notre Dame victory -- especially with everything that's happened off the field.
Besides the indefinite loss of Dantonio, the team this week suspended tight end Dion Sims, who was among 10 men charged in the theft of Detroit Public Schools laptop computers. Sims hadn't played this season.
There is plenty at stake for Michigan State. Avoid an upset here, and the Spartans would finish September unbeaten and set up huge games against Wisconsin and Michigan to start next month.
And then there's the matter of their coach. Dantonio has been in the players' thoughts, and they expect to be motivated when the game starts.
"We know with coach, he'll be back soon. We know he's doing all right," Bates said. "The best way to show our appreciation is just to do well on Saturday."
"We hope to make him proud, wherever he's watching the game," the quarterback said. "You face adversity in life, you face adversity in football, and we've just got to keep moving forward."
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