Last week went, well let’s forget about last week. On to this week where the Spartans the host top-10 Indiana Hoosiers. Wait, that can’t be right…top-ten Indiana?!
The Hoosiers have been the surprise of the Big Ten and maybe all of college football so far in this abbreviated Big Ten season and come in undefeated. Let’s get to know them a little better.
School: Indiana University
Location: Bloomington, Indiana
Head Coach: Tom Allen (fifth season, 21-20 overall)
Rivalry Trophy at Stake: Old Brass Spittoon
All Time Series: Michigan State leads 48-16-2, and has 10 of last 11 meetings, including three straight.
Tom Allen has done a nice job at Indiana, and last year looked like the year he might have turned the corner. The Hoosiers went 8-5 overall, finished 5-4 in Big Ten play, and made the Gator Bowl. After consecutive 5-7 seasons, Allen had them bowling and this year is looking for even more.
Indiana has been putting up some points, averaging 37 points per game so far. The Hoosiers have eclipsed the 30 point mark in all three games against Penn State, Rutgers, and Michigan.
They are averaging 339.3 yards of offense per game at a rate of 4.71 yards per play. Not earth shattering numbers considering their point totals. In fact the total yardage is 101st in the nation, and the yards per play is 112th.
Through the air the Hoosiers are at an even 250 yards per game and 6.7 yards per attempt. They have seven touchdowns against just one interception.
On the ground the Hoosiers have struggled. They are averaging 89.33 yards per game overall and 2.58 yards per attempt. Both of those rank in the bottom-10 nationally, right along with MSU. They do have six rushing touchdowns.
On the defensive side, Indiana is allowing 25.7 points per game, but has held their last two opponents (Rutgers and Michigan) to 21 points each.
The Hoosiers allow 364 yards of offense per game and 5.28 yards per play. Both of those are top-40 nationally.
Through the air, the Hoosier defense gives up 236 yards per game and 6.8 yards per attempt, both solid numbers. They have allowed eight touchdown passes, but have seven interceptions already.
On the ground Indiana allows 128 yards per game and 3.73 yards per attempt. Both of those are also top-40 in the country.
The turnover margin has been very kind to Indiana so far, as it has forced eight turnovers, while only giving the ball away twice. That works out to a plus-two per game average, which is the second best among teams with at least three games played.
One of the other areas Indiana has been good is in the red zone. They have a perfect red zone conversion rate on 16 trips. They have touchdowns on 12 of those 16 trips, for an even 75% touchdown conversion rate.
Players to Watch
Michael Penix Jr. has been really good at quarterback for Indiana so far this year, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to Spartan fans who saw him last year. Penix has 750 passing yards with a completion percentage of about 59 percent and 6.7 yards per attempt. He has seven touchdowns against just one interception.
He hasn’t been much of a running threat, with just 12 attempts for six yards, but he does have two rushing touchdowns.
The leading rusher for Indiana is junior Stevie Scott III, who has 235 yards and four touchdowns on 3.62 yards per carry. Scott was the leading rusher last year as well, going for almost 850 yards and 10 touchdowns on a much nicer 4.75 yards per carry. Scott also has seven catches for 19 yards.
The tandem of senior receivers Whop Philyor and Ty Fryfogle have been tough for opposing defenses to deal with. Philyor has 21 catches for 252 yards (12 YPC) and a touchdown. Fryfogle has 13 catches for 224 yards (17.23 YPC) and two scores.
When you get into the red zone, the target becomes tight end Peyton Hendershot, who has 12 catches for 78 yards and three touchdowns.
On defense sophomore defensive back Tiawan Mullen has been all over the field. He is tied for third on the team with 18 tackles, and leads the team with 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. He also has two pass breakups.
Fellow defensive back Jaylin Williams has three of the team’s seven interceptions.
The kicking game has been solid for Indiana as well. Senior punter Haydon Whitehead is averaging over 42 yards per punt and sophomore Charles Campbell has been perfect on field goals and extra points.
Overall Indiana has been a very solid team, worthy of a top-10 ranking. The defense has been better statistically, but the offense has done a good job of capitalizing when presented with opportunities to put points on the board. This appears to be a pretty good football team.