EAST LANSING — Michigan State welcomes Indiana for homecoming later today in Spartan Stadium.
The Hoosiers enter Saturday’s game 3-1 (0-1 B1G) following their 38-3 victory over Connecticut.
This will mark the 66th meeting between MSU and Indiana. The Spartans lead the all-time series 47-16-2, including a 25-6-1 record in East Lansing. Dantonio is 9-1 against the Hoosiers and 5-0 at home.
Where is the fanbase at with Tom Allen and this coaching staff? He’s hired new offensive and defensive coordinators. How do you think that has changed the team from last season?
Right now it feels like the majority of the fanbase is in wait-and-see mode. Obviously it isn’t great to miss out on a bowl game in each of your first two seasons at the helm, but his staff has done a really good job on the recruiting trail by IU’s standards and that’s been enough to buy some optimism. As always there are the folks who have wanted to fire him since he was hired and there are the folks who won’t hear a bad word about him. The reality lies in the middle.
Allen hiring a defensive coordinator hasn’t really brought an obvious, tangible change to the on-field product because he just promoted from within and Kane Wommack and Allen seem to see eye-to-eye on how the Hoosiers should play defense. Perhaps some small things here and there and some more free-time for Allen, but nothing groundbreaking.
The offense is a completely different story. Kalen DeBoer has taken the poor, poor offense and made it kind of fun again. For the first time in years the Hoosiers throw the ball down the field and have some sort of creativity in the way they go about their business on that side of the ball.
Who do you think starts at quarterback this weekend? Would you rather see Penix Jr. or Ramsey out there? Why?
I think that the goal is for Michael Penix Jr. to start this weekend. I think that’s been the goal since he went out with an injury three weeks ago and got evaluated. That being said...it’s still up in the air. My gut says Allen’s failure to give a clear update on Penix is gamesmanship and the redshirt freshman will start on Saturday, so I’m going with that.
I’d much rather see Penix on the field. It’s not even close. He has a better arm, he’s a better scrambler and he has a higher ceiling. He’s a more dynamic player and somebody who will keep the opposing defense from stacking the box play after play, which is something that Ramsey can’t claim to be, just watch the Ohio State tape. If Ramsey sees the field for an extended period of time in this game I think it’ll put a cap on what the offense is capable of and in a game against SP+’s best defense in the nation that’s not something you want.
What were your expectations going into this season?
#9WINDIANA. It’s coming.
Who’s one player on offense and defense Spartan fans should look out for?
On the offensive side of the ball the easy answer is Penix. If he’s unable to play or you want a more difficult answer I’ll go with Whop Philyor. I don’t think whoever the Hoosier quarterback is will have enough time to set up the bombs that typically go to Nick Westbrook, so Philyor’s importance will grow immensely. He’s the guy that’s capable of catching a slant and taking it to the house, which is what the Hoosiers will need if they want to be successful. Watch out for him on screen plays, end arounds and other plays of that ilk. If things get weird he could or should be involved somehow.
On the defensive side of the ball the Hoosiers should be led by linebacker Reakwon Jones. The dude flies around making plays. If he isn’t in the play he’ll probably be a few yards away. Don’t expect anything terribly flashy from him, but he’s a solid guy in the middle.
What would Indiana have to accomplish to pull off the upset in East Lansing?
I mentioned this on our podcast and even a little bit earlier in this Q&A. The Hoosiers need to make big plays. They need that 60-yard touchdown that comes out of nowhere. They need the big interception or fumble recovery that will turn the tide in their favor.
If they can string together a few of those moments then they should be able to keep it close throughout the game and have a chance at the end. If the offense is bland and the defense has to carry them things could get ugly.
Prediction time: Final score? Who wins? Why?
In a moment of weakness, I went on the record predicting a 17-14 Hoosier victory on our podcast. 17 seems reasonable considering the 10 points that y’all gave up to Hunter Johnson’s offense, which isn’t good, and I think the Hoosier defense can hang.
I’m expecting an ugly, low-scoring slugfest that won’t be particularly fun for anybody watching it. Vintage Big Ten football coming right up baby.