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Game Preview: Indiana Hoosiers vs. Michigan State Spartans

Michigan State v Indiana

The Michigan State Spartans look to earn a second consecutive conference win against Indiana on homecoming weekend, while the Hoosiers look to play spoiler on the road. And, of course, the Old Brass Spittoon is up for grabs!

Both teams enter the game with 3-1 records, but the two schools have gotten there in much different ways. Let’s preview the matchup to see where both teams currently stand and to get an idea of what the matchup may look like.

Tale of the Tape

Michigan State:
2019 Record — 3-1 (1-0 Big Ten)

Offense (per game average) — 406.5 total yards, 261.25 passing yards, 145.3 rushing yards

Defense (per game average) — 228.3 total yards allowed, 176.0 passing yards allowed, 52.3 rushing yards allowed

Cumulative Points Scored: 117 (29.25 ppg)

Cumulative Points Allowed: 44 (11.0 ppg)

Current S&P+ Ranking: 20th

2019 Record — 3-1 (0-1 Big Ten)

Offense (per game average) — 429.0 total yards, 308.5 passing yards, 120.5 rushing yards

Defense (per game average)— 294.8 yards allowed, 167.5 passing yards allowed, 127.3 rushing yards allowed

Cumulative Points Scored: 134 (33.5 ppg)

Cumulative Points Allowed: 78 (19.5 ppg)

Current S&P+ Ranking: 32nd

Series History/All-Time Records

All-time head-to-head record: Michigan State leads 47-16-2
Current streak: Michigan State has won the past two meetings.
Last Michigan State Win: Sept. 22, 2018 (35-21)
Last Indiana Win: Oct. 1, 2016 (24-21)
Michigan State all-time record: 704-460-44 (.601)
Indiana all-time record: 486-680-44 (.420)

Previous Game Results

Michigan State 31, Northwestern 10

This was the bounce-back game Michigan State needed after a disappointing loss to Arizona State. This was also win No. 110 for Mark Dantonio at MSU, which allowed him to pass Duffy Daugherty as the winningest coach in program history. Brian Lewekre was sharp against the Wildcats, completing 18 of 31 passes for 228 yards, with three touchdown passes and zero interceptions. Joe Bachie was a man on a mission with 14 tackles, a sack and a pick, on his way to Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors. MSU made some mistakes, but dominated the game and broke a three-game losing streak to Northwestern.

Indiana 38, Connecticut 3

I don’t really know what to make of this win or this Indiana team. UCONN is an awful football team who barely defeated Wagner and lost to Illinois. Indiana did what it was supposed to do against an inferior team, though. After falling behind 3-0 early, the Hoosiers outscored the Huskies 38-0 the rest of the game. Peyton Ramsey was highly accurate, completing 23 of 27 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns, with one pick. Stevie Scott rushed for 97 yards and a score. The stout Indiana defense held Connecticut to just 145 total yards, including just 51 rushing yards.

Now Indiana’s collective eyes are on the prize:

Key Matchups

IU quarterbacks versus MSU secondary: It is unknown who is staring at quarterback for Indiana, and we likely won’t know until game-time. Peyton Ramsey — who has started against the Spartans in each of the previous two years — has been playing in place of redshirt freshman Michael Penix Jr., who has been out with an undisclosed injury, but could come back this week. As such, Michigan State has been preparing for both quarterbacks. Both quarterbacks bring a different skill set to the table, but regardless of who starts on Saturday, he’ll have a daunting task in front of him. Michigan State is currently giving up just 176 pass yards per game, and ranks third in the country in total defense.

Brian Lewerke versus Indiana secondary: On the other side of the coin, the Hoosiers have been even more impressive against the pass. Indiana gives up just 167.5 pass yards per game, which ranks them 21st in the country. They have allowed just five touchdown passes all year (three of which were against Ohio State). The unit as a whole is only allowing 19.5 points per game, but if you throw out the Ohio State game, the defense has given up just nine total points in the other three games (granted, it’s against low-level competition). Lewerke needs to build off an impressive performance against Northwestern by remaining poised and making good decisions against a stout defense.

Michigan State offensive line versus Indiana defensive line: As mentioned, Indiana’s defense is good. They have ten sacks so far this season, which is an average of 2.5 sacks per game. Michigan State is dealing with a makeshift offensive line, but has done a good job of keeping opposing teams off of their quarterback, as Lewerke has been sacked just four times this season (average of one per game). For comparison, Michigan State has 15 sacks this season, which ranks them as a top-10 unit. While the Hoosiers aren’t quite on the same level, it will be important to neutralize their pass rush and allow Lewerke to make plays in the passing game.

Game Info

Time: 3:30 p.m. (EST)
TV Channel: Big Ten Network
Location: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing
Weather expectations: 66 degrees at kickoff, mostly cloudy, winds blowing north/northeast at seven MPH
Line: Michigan State -14


It will be interesting to see who is under center for Indiana on Saturday afternoon and how that changes the game plan offensively for the Hoosiers and defensively for the Spartans. But at the end of the day, I don’t think it matters much. MSU has dominated IU in the series history, and I expect another win in 2019 in front of a homecoming crowd. Indiana has some impressive offensive players, such as Stevie Scott, but he’s off to a slow start this year (3.7 ypc) and shutting down the run is what the Spartans do best. In fact, MSU held Scott to just 18 yards on 11 attempts last season. Expect more of the same.

What does worry me a bit is Indiana’s defense. I am well aware that outside of Ohio State, the Hoosiers haven’t been tested. But Tom Allen has really turned IU into a solid defensive program during his tenure. We already know about Michigan State’s defensive prowess. I could see this being a defensive battle, similar to the 2017 bout in which Michigan State won 17-9.

With all of that said, I still think MSU wins by two scores, likely a touchdown and a field goal. The Spartans will do what it takes to retain the Old Brass Spittoon.

For more on Indiana, check out our “Get to Know the Opponent” piece.

Your turn.


Who wins?

This poll is closed

  • 87%
    Michigan State
    (102 votes)
  • 12%
    (15 votes)
117 votes total Vote Now