EAST LANSING, Michigan (Ticker) -- Bobby Williams realizes it is time to take the next step.
After posting a 13-11 record in two-plus seasons under Williams, 17th-ranked Michigan State hopes for better things in 2001, beginning with Saturday's home game against Eastern Michigan.
"This is something different for this program," Williams said. "We're talking about taking this program to the next level. In order to reach that level, you have to be able to deal with those expectations."
The schedule is favorable with eight home games, including each of the first five contests. Rice and California are next on the schedule before a September 21 date with Notre Dame.
The best receiver in the country this season could be the Spartans' Charles Rogers, who had 67 catches for 1,470 yards and 14 touchdowns last season as a sophomore.
Quarterback Jeff Smoker has steadily improved and has a flare for the dramatic after leading the Spartans to dramatic wins over Notre Dame as a freshman and Michigan as a sophomore.
Smoker will play behind an offensive line that returns all five starters.
Eastern Michigan was 2-9 in 2001 and is still searching for a quarterback after Kainoa Akina transferred following the spring semester. Troy Edwards, Jeff Crooks and Chinedu Okoro are competing for the job.
Michigan State has won all five meetings in the series, including a 51-7 rout in the last one in 1999. The Spartans have won the last three meetings by a combined score of 116-7.