Riding a three-game winning streak, the Illinois Fighting Illini are one win shy of qualifying for a bowl game for the first time since the 2014 season.

Looking to accomplish this objective on Saturday, the Illini will have to devise a game plan to compromise one of the nation’s best defenses. Tasked with that responsibility, offensive coordinator Rod Smith is well aware of the challenge Michigan State provides.

Jeremy Werner of IlliniInquirer shared Smith’s comments on Twitter:

“They’re really good,” Smith began.

“They’re as good as anyone we’ll face. They’re physical, they’re big, extremely sound. Top-10 defense. One of the top defensive fronts in the country.”

Allowing 21.9 points per game, the Spartans’ defense ranks 33rd nationally, but Smith’s point stands.

Dealing with a slew of injuries, Michigan State has already ruled nine student-athletes out of Saturday’s contest.

Set to kick at 3:30PM ET, Saturday’s action from Spartan Stadium will air on FS1.