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Michigan State Spartans football team looks for redemption Saturday vs. Arizona State

Michigan State’s Josiah Scott tries for an interception against Western Michigan during the first quarter Saturday in East Lansing. Scott couldn’t hold on to the ball. (AP photo)

This was the moment early last season when Michigan State’s offense hit its first major snag.

Faced with a tricky nonconference test on the road, the Spartans wasted opportunities throughout the game and eventually lost to Arizona State on a last-second field goal.

“It don’t sit with me right,” receiver Weston Bridges said.

Michigan State lost that game 16-13, and that proved to be a sign of things to come. The Spartans sputtered to a 7-6 season and were held under 20 points in each of their losses. This year there are signs of improvement, but No. 18 Michigan State will be put to the test Saturday at Spartan Stadium in a rematch with Arizona State.

“We’ve got a confidence level,” Spartans coach Mark Dantonio said. “I think that we’ve been a confident football team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. You know, went a little bit back and forth, obviously had a lot of injuries last year, but big step this past week.”

After an underwhelming opener against Tulsa, Michigan State (2-0) broke out offensively last weekend in a 51-17 win over Western Michigan. By contrast, Arizona State (2-0) struggled to put away Sacramento State in a 19-7 victory.

The Spartans are favored by about two touchdowns this weekend.

“We’re gonna play a team that’s, this is a legitimate football team. They’re big time,” Arizona State coach Herm Edwards said. “They’re good, and they’re gonna stop you. Sometimes, you’re going to do everything right, and they’re just going to beat you.”

Dantonio can take over Michigan State’s career lead in victories with a win this week. He and Duffy Daugherty are tied for first place at 109.

Things to watch when the Spartans host the Sun Devils:

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RUNNING GAME

Arizona State’s Eno Benjamin needs 45 yards rushing to reach 2,000 for his career, but he’ll be up against a defense that excels against the run. Michigan State was No. 1 in the nation against the run last season and has allowed minus-6 yards on the ground so far this year.

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HOME STATE

Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke is from Phoenix, so this is a special matchup for him. He threw for 314 yards and a touchdown in the loss at Arizona State last year.