Michigan State is back on the road this week after taking some time off during their bye. The Spartans will take on Indiana in the battle for the Old Brass Spittoon. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. EST.
This will be Michigan State’s third game under the lights so hopefully they are used to it by now (Spartan fans will be happy knowing their next home game takes place at noon).
To better our knowledge of the Hoosiers we’ve called upon Ben Raphel from The Crimson Quarry. He’ll be giving our readers an in depth scouting report and give his expert opinion on the team as a whole.
Tom Allen is in his second season as Indiana’s head football coach. Last season he finished 5-7 (2-7 B1G), so far the Hoosiers are 3-0 in 2018. How do you feel Allen is doing? And is he taking IU in the right direction? Why or Why not?
I think that, from the standpoint of “is this a program I can feel good about supporting?”, Allen has taken the Hoosiers in the right direction. Previous coach Kevin Wilson was fired for player abuse, so Allen’s attempt to turn IU football into a positive culture is much appreciated. Will it translate into wins? Time will tell, but I think at least in terms of the program and the culture, he’s taken things in the right direction. Having a recruiting pipeline to Florida certainly helps too.
What were your predictions for the team this season prior to week one?
I predicted another 5-7 (2-7) season for the Hoosiers. So right now at 3-0 after noncon play they’re right on track for my predictions. However, IU’s S&P+ ranking of 23rd and projected win total of 8.2 both give me even more reason to be optimistic than I was before the season started.
What impressed you the most after Indiana’s latest win over Ball State?
Ball State was a thorn in IU’s side in the late 2000s/early 10s, so being able to put them away easily was a great relief for IU fans who have heard the chirping from Muncie in years past. Peyton Ramsey managed the game perfectly in the first half, and the offensive line opened up holes for Stevie Scott to do work. All while the IU defense held Ball State in check all day, and held off an opponent who came within a touchdown of beating Notre Dame last week. Good stuff.
Peyton Ramsey vs. Brian Lewerke - Who will be more important to their teams success on Saturday?
I think it’s Lewerke. He hasn’t faced a defense as highly-rated as IU’s yet, and he’s coming off a loss and a bye week. This is a chance to prove he’s less Tyler O’Connor and more Connor Cook for the Spartans. Ramsey has to play better than he did against MSU last year if IU wants the win, but I think Lewerke will be more important to his team’s success.
J-Shun Harris has hurt his knee three separate times during his career at Indiana. He’s a fifth year senior who looks every bit as good prior to all his injuries and just tied a Hoosier school record for punt return touchdowns last Saturday. What can we expect out of him? Do you see him shifting the momentum and scoring a special teams touchdown? Why or Why not?
J-Shun Harris is an incredibly story, man. Three ACL tears would make most people never want to play the sport again. But Harris is back this year, and when healthy he’s always been a dangerous returner. It’s hard to predict that he’ll score a TD on special teams week in and week out, but the Spartans will have to keep their eyes on him.
What’s one match up you will be paying close attention to?
Very curious to see if IU can stop the MSU run game and force Lewerke into passing situations. Both the MSU offense and IU defense and rated highly in S&P+, so we’ll see who wins out there.
Prediction time: Final score? Who wins? Why?
I know we won the Spittoon the last time we played this game in Bloomington, but I’ve seen this movie too many times before with IU football, so I’m picking Sparty to win on a late field goal. MSU 20, Indiana 17.