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Game Preview: Indiana Hoosiers versus Michigan State Spartans

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The 5-1, and undefeated in conference play, Michigan State Spartans welcome the Indiana Hoosiers to Spartan Stadium on Saturday afternoon. It’s homecoming weekend and the Spartans are looking to keep their strong season going, while the Hoosiers look to earn their first Big Ten win.

There is a lot of history between these two programs, though most of it has been in Michigan State’s favor. The teams will once again battle for the Old Brass Spittoon. Let’s go ahead and get right to previewing the 2017 edition of Indiana versus Michigan State.

Tale of the Tape

Michigan State:

Record — 5-1, (3-0 Big Ten)

Offense — 389.2 total yards per game (5th in Big Ten), 197 passing yards per game, 192.2 rushing yards per game, 23.7 points per game

Defense — 263.8 yards allowed per game (2nd in Big Ten), 170.5 passing yards allowed per game, 93.3 rushing yards allowed per game, 18.2 points allowed per game


Record — 3-3 (0-3 Big Ten)

Offense — 386.7 total yards per game (6th in Big Ten), 249.3 passing yards per game, 137.4 rushing yards per game, 28 points per game

Defense — 353 yards allowed per game (7th in Big Ten), 180.8 passing yards allowed per game, 172.2 rushing yards allowed per game, 25.8 points allowed per game

Quick takeaways: MSU has been carried by its strong defense and rushing attack the past few weeks, but the passing game has to get better. With that said, Indiana is a lot tougher against the pass than the run. The Hoosiers allows more than 172 yards per game on the ground, while Michigan State is third in the conference with 192.2 yards per game. MSU should be able to take advantage of that (even if L.J. Scott gets suspended). The Spartans also rank near the bottom of the Big Ten in points scored per game, only ahead of Illinois. MSU needs to find its offensive footing against IU.

All-time record: Michigan State leads 45-16-2

Last Spartans win: Oct. 24, 2015 (52-26)

Last Hoosiers win: Oct. 1, 2016 (24-21 in overtime)

Biggest Spartans win: 54-0 (1957)

Biggest Hoosiers win: 31-0 (1991)

Current Streak: Indiana with a one-game winning streak

Longest winning streak: Michigan State won eight games in a row from 1950 through 1997

Quick takeaways: Last season, Indiana beat MSU (in overtime) for the first time since 2006. But the current Michigan State football program just feels hundreds of miles ahead of the 2016 team. And historically, this series has been all Spartans. Michigan State is 25-5-1 against Indiana in games played in East Lansing, with the Hoosiers last victory in Spartan Stadium coming in 2001. I do feel that this 2017 Hoosiers team is more complete and new head coach Tom Allen has instilled a different attitude in Bloomington. But I see no reason for MSU to lose this game on Saturday.

Previous Matchups

Michigan State: Michigan State beat Minnesota by a final score of 30-27. But some too-little-too-late magic for the Gophers made the game appear a lot closer than it was. The Spartans were up 23-6 and 30-13 at different points in the fourth quarter. The concerning thing was the way the defense let up and allowed Minnesota to threaten. The other concern is the Spartans’ running backs still don’t know how to protect the football. L.J. Scott once again coughed it up, which led to points for Minnesota and then Madre London lost it on the very next drive, but the ball went out of bounds. MSU was able to hang on for the win, and the rushing attack was strong when the football was secured, but some things definitely need to be shored up this week.

Indiana: Indiana gave that team from Ann Arbor a scare last weekend, sending the game into overtime with a last-second field goal by Griffin Oakes — the same Griffin Oakes who missed two field goals against Sparty last season, but made the clutch game-winning kick in OT. For Indiana, it was just one of those games where one or two bounces could have changed the outcome. But the Hoosiers were shredded on the ground for 200 yards by Karan Higdon and couldn’t match the Wolverines in the extra session. Peyton Ramsey threw an interception on fourth-and-goal at the four-yard line to end the game.

Key Players

Michigan State:

Brian Lewerke: 131 QB rating, 1,177 passing yards, 60.1 percent completion rate, nine TDs, three INTs, 318 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns

Madre London: 54 rushes, 229 yards, 4.2 yards per carry, two TDs, six catches for 34 yards and one receiving TD

Felton Davis III: 24 catches, 300 yards, four TDs

Joe Bachie: 50 tackles, five tackle for loss, two sacks, one interception, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one pass breakup

Andrew Dowell: 38 tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, one pass breakup


Peyton Ramsey: 126.6 QB rating, 815 passing yards, 62.3 percent completion rate, seven TDs, four INTs, 185 rushing yards, two rushing TDs

Morgan Ellison: 83 rushes, 426 yards, 5.1 yards per carry, three TDs, three catches for 16 yards

Simmie Cobbs Jr: 37 catches, 409 yards, 11.1 yards per catch, three TDs

Tegray Scales: 48 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks

Jonathan Crawford: 31 tackles, one tackle for loss, one interception, four pass breakups, one field goal block

For more on Indiana’s difference-makers, check out this article.

Game Info

Time: 3:30 p.m. EST

TV Channel: ABC

Location: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing

Weather expectations: 75 degrees, partly cloudy, winds 10-12 MPH

Odds: Michigan State -7

Over/Under: 46


Notice that I listed Madre London as a key player for Michigan State, and not L.J. Scott? It is very likely that Scott will be facing some sort of disciplinary action, likely not being allowed to play on Saturday, due to getting arrested for driving on a suspended license. This is the seventh time Scott has been charged for this offense and is now possibly even facing jail time. Seven? Come on, L.J., that’s inexcusable. London and Gerald Holmes will have to step up if Scott, who finally exploded last week, misses the game. Again, Indiana’s rush defense is very weak, but the offense will take a hit without Scott. I still like MSU’s chances to control the line of scrimmage, though.

Indiana is awful at forcing turnovers. The Hoosiers only have four takeaways all season (one interception, three fumble recoveries). MSU has to stop putting the ball on the ground. There’s no reason to give this uninspiring defense any gifts. Special teams will also be important. Indiana’s J-Shun Harris has two punt returns for touchdowns. Jake Hartbarger will need to get back to early season form and pin the Hoosiers deep, while keeping the ball away from Harris. If the Spartans can do all of these things, they should win by 10 or more.

Also, it looks like we’re finally going to have some good weather. This should help with Lewerke in the passing game, as well as Hartbarger’s punting.

Who do you have? Go Green!


Who wins the Old Brass Spittoon on Saturday?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    (13 votes)
  • 93%
    Michigan State
    (199 votes)
212 votes total Vote Now