Aug. 19, 2010
DETROIT - The Michigan State football team held a two-hour practice Thursday afternoon at Ford Field in preparation for its Sept. 11 game against Florida Atlantic.
Prior to practice, MSU head coach Mark Dantonio and FAU head coach Howard Schnellenberger held a joint press conference in the concourse atrium to preview the "Spartans in the D" event. In addition, seven Spartans from the Metro Detroit area - Edwin Baker (Oak Park), Mark Dell (Farmington Hills), Joel Foreman (Milford), Charlie Gantt (Farmington Hills), Keshawn Martin (Inkster), Chris Norman (Detroit) and John Stipek (Macomb Township) - conducted one-on-one interviews with reporters to talk about playing in downtown Detroit.
"We're excited about going down to Detroit to play Florida Atlantic," said Dantonio. "We had an outstanding game with them in 2008. It gives us an opportunity to come back down and play in an environment where a lot of our players are from. We have 61 players on our roster from the state of Michigan and 27 from the suburban Detroit area, so it's exciting for them and their families. We want to try and recreate some of the atmosphere that was down here for the basketball championships (2009 NCAA Final Four). It should be a great event."
The Ford Field game marks the first time MSU has played a football game in Downtown Detroit since Oct. 27, 1944, when Coach Charlie Bachman led the Spartans to a 32-0 victory over Wayne State in a contest played at University of Detroit Stadium.
"Anytime you can play in the state of Michigan, it gives our fans a chance to see us play because they're not having to travel too far, so it's definitely an advantage for us," said Dantonio. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Schnellenbeger and what he's been able to accomplish in the past, and he's done an outstanding job at Florida Atlantic. Florida Atlantic has players, and they're going to come ready to play. It will be an exciting atmosphere."
Although FAU is hosting the event, the "Spartans in the D" game against the Owls gives Michigan State a chance to play in the largest market in the state of Michigan.
"The exposure that we get in Detroit helps us immensely," Dantonio remarked. "The fact that we're playing down here gives us an opportunity for more media and more people to see us in really a different site. It's really why we came down here to practice today too. We just wanted to break the cycle and provide a different environment for our players to play in."
"It's not technically our home game, but it's good to play in state and have an opportunity to play in Ford Field," said Foreman. "It's a great venue, and just to have our fans from Michigan State be able to come, it's kind of a home away from home for us, so we're pretty excited."
FAU will receive the gate proceeds from the Michigan State matchup to be put toward the funding of the Owls' anticipated state-of-the-art, on-campus stadium. The game was originally scheduled to be the first game at Florida Atlantic's new facility but was moved to Ford Field once the completion date for the project was pushed back to 2011.
The Sept. 11 game also marks just the second-ever meeting between Michigan State and FAU, as the Spartans posted a 17-0 victory over the Owls in East Lansing, Mich., during a steady rain in Week 3 of the 2008 season. MSU's defense recorded its first shutout since Nov. 13, 1999, as the Spartans limited FAU to nine first downs and 225 total yards, and recovered two fumbles. All-American Javon Ringer rushed 43 times for a career-best 282 yards against the Owls and scored on touchdown runs of 21 and 11 yards.
"SPARTANS IN THE D" QUICK FACTS
Michigan State Spartans vs. Florida Atlantic Owls
WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 11 - 12 p.m. - Ford Field - Detroit, Mich. Gates will open at 10:30 a.m.
TICKETS: Available at ticketmaster.com, ranging from $19 to $79.
For MSU students, tickets are available for $19 through the Spartan Ticket Office (limit three) at msuspartans.com or by phone at 517-355-1610. Away football tickets are only available to MSU students who have purchased the student season admission; however, students who are not season ticket holders will be automatically refunded, minus the $12 handling fee. All student away tickets must be picked up in person by the student at the visiting team will call on game day. Two forms of photo ID and e-mail confirmation are required for pick-up on game day.
TV/RADIO: ESPNU / Spartan Radio Network
GAME SPONSORS: PNC Bank, Pepsi, Fox 2 News, CBS Radio Detroit
OFFICIAL SPARTAN TAILGATING AREAS: GM Lot near Renaissance Center at 900 E. Atwater. Parking spaces will be available for $10. Call Metropolitan Parking Services at 313-568-5676 for more details. All other tailgating lots are available on a first-come, first-serve basis so book space in advance.