EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — It's been over a month since Michigan State won a football game, and the news off the field hasn't been any better.
Now the Spartans are dealing with the loss of standout linebacker Joe Bachie, who was declared ineligible by the Big Ten after testing positive for a banned supplement.
"I've told our football team at times, it can always get worse," said coach Mark Dantonio, trying to keep the Spartans' problems in perspective. "It really can."
Maybe so, but Michigan State has lost its last three games by a combined score of 100-17. The Spartans also had two open dates recently. Those weeks included news of players entering the transfer portal, plus Bachie's penalty, which was announced last Thursday.
The school said it would file an appeal with the Big Ten, but with only four games remaining in the regular season, it's not clear if Bachie will be able to play again for the Spartans.
"The appeal process is really something that I'm not really involved in," Dantonio said. "That's involved with the trainers and our athletic training staff, and the doctors, etc., and the Big Ten. So we'll see how that shakes out."
Bachie, a senior, made the second team on the AP's list of midseason All-Americans. Michigan State now lists sophomore Noah Harvey atop the depth chart at Bachie's linebacker spot. Harvey has played in every game this season.
"Noah's been practicing there, and he's gotten game reps there," Dantonio said. "He's been in our nickel package in various places throughout the season, so he's a seasoned player a little bit. He's an outstanding athlete, can really run."
Five of Harvey's seven tackles so far in 2019 came on special teams.
Dantonio also said center Matt Allen is out with an unspecified injury, and receiver Darrell Stewart will not play this weekend either. Dantonio said he expects them both back this year.
As for Bachie, he's still around, but he can't play.
"Joe is still a part of our football team, comes to practices, and is basically a student coach," Dantonio said. "Want him to be involved with us. Plans to be at the game on Saturday as well. He's just ineligible to play right now."
Michigan State hasn't won since beating Indiana on Sept. 28. The Spartans (4-4) still have work to do if they're going to qualify for a bowl, but their schedule is easing up after they lost to Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State in succession.
How they'll perform against Illinois on Saturday is anyone's guess, especially after they lost one of their top defensive players.
"Don't take that 'pity me' type of attitude. We've got to move on," Dantonio said. "We've got to get ready to go. We've got other people coming here to play."
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