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Game Preview: Michigan State Spartans vs. Indiana Hoosiers

Indiana v Michigan State Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

The 2018 edition of the battle for the Old Brass Spittoon takes place on Saturday night in Bloomington, as the Michigan State Spartans and Indiana Hoosiers open conference play against each other.

The Spartans are coming off of a tough loss followed by bye week. The Hoosiers, on the other hand, are off to a hot start and 3-0 record.

Michigan State has dominated Indiana historically, but the Hoosiers generally hang tough with the Spartans, especially the past couple of years. The 24th-ranked Spartans have had their issues against up-tempo offenses in 2018, and Indiana will look to exploit that. Here is your game preview.

Tale of the Tape

Michigan State:
2018 Record — 1-1 (0-0 Big Ten)

Offense (per game basis)— 414.5 total yards, 300.5 passing yards, 114 rushing yards, 25.5 points scored

Defense (per game basis)— 384 yards allowed, 349.5 passing yards allowed, 34.5 rushing yards allowed, 23.5 points allowed

Current S&P+ Ranking: 20th

2018 Record — 3-0 (0-0 Big Ten)

Offense (per game basis) — 436.3 total yards, 201.3 passing yards, 235 rushing yards, 32 points scored

Defense (per game basis)— 322.7 yards allowed, 135.33 passing yards allowed, 187.3 rushing yards allowed, 18 points allowed

Current S&P+ Ranking: 23rd

Series History/All-Time Records

All-time head-to-head record: Michigan State leads 46-16-2
Last Michigan State Win: Oct. 21, 2017 (17-9)
Last Indiana Win: Oct. 1, 2016 (24-21)
Michigan State all-time record: 695-454-44
Indiana all-time record: 481-672-44

Previous Game Results (Quick Hits Recap)

Michigan State 13, Arizona State 16
Ugh. Am I really choosing to talk about this right now? I’ll be blunt. Michigan State’s offense was pathetic in the red zone, which included an interception from the ASU 6-yard line. Third down was just as bad, as MSU converted on just four of 12 attempts. The offensive line was a disaster, and the Sun Devils were able to control the last five minutes of the clock and kick a game-winning field goal. At least Cody White is awesome.

Indiana 38, Ball State 10

Indiana had its way with the in-state rival Ball State. The Hoosiers out-gained the Cardinals by more than 100 total yards, including gaining 255 yards on the ground. It was tailback Stevie Scott leading the charge with 114 rushing yards (6.3 yards per attempt) and two scores. Quarterback Peyton Ramsey had an efficient, but unspectacular day, completing 20 of 27 passes for 173 yards with zero touchdowns or interceptions.

Oh yeah. The Indiana pass defense has been really good through three games thus far.

Key Matchups

Brian Lewerke vs. IU pass defense: As noted, the Indiana pass defense has been really good so far (No. 8 in NCAA). Granted, the level of competition hasn’t been great, but head coach Tom Allen has really put an emphasis on defense. First and foremost, the MSU offensive line needs to protect, but if Lewerke is able to find success and get into rhythm against IU’s secondary, the Spartans should be in position to win.

Stevie Scott vs. MSU front seven: Scott has totaled 388 rushing yards in three games, on his way to averaging 129.3 yards per game and 5.6 yards per carry. The 6-foot-2, 233 pound-true freshman has also scored three touchdowns. On the flip side, the Spartans have been incredible against the run. MSU has allowed just 69 total rushing yards in two games (34.5 per contest). This game will come down to which team can control the trenches.

MSU special teams vs. Indiana special teams: J-Shun Harris is healthy again, and poses a huge problem for a Michigan State team currently using a backup quarterback as a punter. Harris returned a punt 86 yards for a score last week. The Spartans must remain disciplined in kick and punt coverage to avoid giving Indiana momentum or easy points. For MSU’s return game, it would be nice to see a big play, but Indiana is solid in its return coverage.

Game Info

Time: 7:30 p.m. EST
TV Channel: Big Ten Network
Location: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Indiana
Weather expectations: Mostly cloudy. Rain was initially expected, but now looks like it may hold off. Temperature expected to be around 63 degrees at kickoff.


Michigan State is 6-5 following a bye week in the Mark Dantonio era. So there is nothing really definitive there saying MSU is either really good or really bad following a week off, but I would have to think that the extra week helped the team prepare better for Indiana, allowed injuries to heal up some and allowed the time and emphasis to correct the issues that have plagued the Spartans through the first two games. On the other side, I think this is an Indiana team that is playing with confidence, and a team that is sound both offensively and defensively.

I am a bit worried that the Hoosiers can expose the Spartans with an up-tempo/hurry-up offense, and this may also be the best defensive team that MSU has seen so far. With that said, I expect Indiana to hang around, but I think the Spartans are able to put it together this week, get the ground game going, and pull out a win in the fourth quarter.

For more on Indiana, check out Matt Hoeppner’s “Get to know the opponent” piece, or McLain Moberg’s “The Only Questions” article.

We were all down on this team after the loss to Arizona State. Will MSU turn it around on Saturday? Let us know.


Who wins?

This poll is closed

  • 67%
    Michigan State
    (114 votes)
  • 32%
    (55 votes)
169 votes total Vote Now