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Michigan State 42, Indiana 28: Kneejerk Reactions

Tony Lippett was too much for Indiana
Tony Lippett was too much for Indiana
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State notches their first conference home win since Kirk Cousins beat Indiana in 2011 with a strong effort against the Hoosiers. Some quick thoughts:

Another (extremely) encouraging game from the offense: Yes, it was the Indiana defense, but an excellent effort, both rushing and passing, from a unit that looked close to moribund just a few weeks ago. The question was always whether the offense could be just competent enough to allow the defense to win games. In this game you'd have to say the offense was leading the charge, picking up 473 total yards, their top number against an FBS opponent on the way to 42 points.

How about that running game? It seems strange to say it, but a rushing game that lost Le'Veon Bell to the NFL draft appears to have actually improved this year. Spartan running backs rushed for 238 yards on 47 carries and cracked the 5 YPC mark at 5.1. Jeremy Langford led the way with a 109-yard game and 3 TDs (and 1 more TD receiving) on 23 carries but MSU got big plays from freshmen Delton Williams, who had 92 yards, 34 of them on a 4th quarter touchdown, and R.J. Shelton (40 yards on 2 attempts). It's looking more and more like Langford and Williams the rest of the way, as Nick Hill was nowhere to be seen today.

And those receivers? A couple of passes were dropped, but they were more than equalled by big, tough catches, as MSU's receiving corps looked more than competent against the Hoosiers. Tony Lippett, in particular, made some impressive grabs, including a big 3rd down grab at the end of the first quarter to keep MSU's first scoring drive alive. In all, 11 guys had catches, including two big (but non-"explosive") catches from Bennie Fowler and Josiah Price of 34 and 39 yards respectively.

Coming up big on third down: Michigan State finished 10-14 on third downs in this game, which kept a lot of drives alive. 3 of the touchdowns came on third-down plays, as well as the big 39-yard pass to Price.

Those mental mistakes, though: The only thing that kept Indiana in this game was their relentlessness at capitalizing on MSU miscues. They had a quick-strike 64-yard run from Tevin Coleman on the first series but after that their three scores all came after MSU errors. Macgarrett Kings Jr. fumbled a punt after his palms-up catching style betrayed him, leading to IU's second score. An unnecessary roughness penalty after Indiana had been stopped on 3rd-and-9 led to their 3rd touchdown, and their final score came after Aaron Burbridge batted the ball into the hands of Tim Bennett in the 4th quarter. All in all MSU was penalized 10 times for 100 yards, including several stupid personal fouls.

I'm not an X's and O'x football guy, but it sure looks to me like Warner, Bollman and company are finally figuring out how to call a game for Connor Cook. He got sacked only one time, when Josiah Price essentially blocked his man right into the quarterback, and looked very comfortable running the offense. They mixed it up well and called plays that put Cook in a position to succeed, which he did, hitting 22-31 for 235 yds (7.6 YPA), 2 TDs and an INT that deflected off Aaron Burbridge's hands and wasn't Cook's fault. Mike Sadler also looked to keep his Heisman drive alive with a beautiful 69-yard 4th-quarter punt that was downed at the IU 4-yard line.

Next up is Purdue, which only managed a garbage-time touchdown with under a minute left against a highly suspect Nebraska defense. If the defense were ever going to have a shot at a shutout, you'd have to look to this game. At any rate, a 3-0 Big Ten start looks like a strong possibility.

Here's your postgame reaction thread. As always, try to keep it clean and so forth. We're not too worried this week.