Previewing MSU vs. Indiana

Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Game time: Noon ET
Location: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Mich
TV: ESPN2
Radio: Spartan Sports Network
Online Streaming: WatchESPN.com

Game Week Q&A: Here
Forecast: 75 degrees, mostly sunny
Line: MSU -10

It's homecoming and the 500th game in Spartan Stadium history as Indiana comes to town.

The Hoosiers (3-2, 1-0) are coming off their first-ever win against Penn State and bring the Big Ten's top offense, statistically speaking. A year ago, Indiana jumped out to a 17-0 first-quarter and 27-17 halftime lead, but the MSU offense adjusted to the tempo and shut out the Hoosiers in the second half, and the offense came back for a 31-27 win.

MSU's confidence is sky high after winning the Big Ten opener at Iowa last week, but the offense is by no means solved. The Hoosiers are looking to get to a bowl game, and a win Saturday would go a long way, while MSU is looking to stay atop the Legends division.

By the numbers

535.0 - yards per game for Indiana's offense, No. 1 in the Big Ten (6.93 yards per play, No. 2)

346.0 - passing yards per game for Indiana, No. 1 in the conference (9.1 YPA, No. 2)

3.28 - yards per play allowed by MSU's defense, No. 1 nationally

1.97 - rushing yards per carry allowed by MSU's defense, No. 1 nationally

6.3 - MSU's yards per attempt against Iowa

37 - yards Indiana put up against MSU in the second half of last year's game

60 - Saturday will be the 60th meeting between these schools. MSU has a 42-15-2 series lead, including 22-6-1 in East Lansing

Three keys for MSU

Red zone touchdowns - MSU has eight touchdowns in 19 red zone trips this year, a TD percentage that is No. 119 in the country. At one point, just getting to the red zone seemed like success for this offense, but they can't afford to leave points on the board against this Indiana offense. Last week, MSU could have blown out Iowa with better success inside the 30-yard line.

Defending the slot and the flat - The little success Iowa had last week came in the flat. Indiana is going to spread MSU out and rely on linebackers to play pass coverage quite a bit. They struggled early last year before adjusting.

Turnovers - The Hoosiers have 10 giveaways this year and a turnover margin of -2, while MSU has six giveaways and is +4. As always, turnovers are key to an upset, especially on the road. Connor Cook threw his first interception of the season last week.

Three keys for Indiana

Use MSU's aggressiveness against itself - Last year, IU burned MSU with screen pass after screen pass in the first half. MSU eventually figured it out, but it's something that was successful.

Quick passes - MSU's pass rush hasn't gotten a high amount of sacks, but they've nearly matched last year's amount of QB hurries already. Quick passes that keep Nate Sudfield off the turf when used with tempo can be effective.

Bend, don't break - Indiana's defense has allowed a respectable 5.3 yards per play (No. 49 nationally). Even if MSU's offense is able to move the ball, forcing turnovers and keeping the Spartans out of the end zone would be huge.

Prediction: MSU 30-21

Spartan fans would be best prepared to be a little worried about this one. This Indiana team can score quickly and in bunches. If the defense slips up a little like they did late in the first half against Iowa, MSU's offense could be called upon to put up more points than it's ready to.

In the end, I think MSU will able to run the ball enough to keep the possessions down, the passing game will have another good day, they'll struggle in the red zone, and the defense will have some frustrating times, but an overall good performance.

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