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The 3-2-1 Preview: 3 Things We Want To See, 2 Key Stats and 1 Best Bet vs. Indiana

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Could this be a big bounce back spot for the Green and White?

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s just put last week behind us.

Well, except for the best bet part. That was an easy win in that department, sadly.

Spartans. Hoosiers. Noon. ABC.

LET’S GET INTO IT.

3 Things We Want To See

Just one hundred (100) yards of rushing offense

The bar is on the floor here. I’m not asking a lot. But I am asking for something this team has only done once in three games this season. One hundred yards of ground game. Just a crumb of running offense.

MSU’s run game — for a myriad of reasons — has been awful.

Indiana’s run defense — after a myriad of results — has been...just OK.

Last week the Hoosiers bottled up the Wolverines for 18 yards on 13 carries. That’s wildly different than Penn State’s 250 yards on 52 carries from two games prior.

All in all, Indiana is letting up an average of 3.7 yards per carry, which is good. Not great, not horrible. Just good. Their defensive line has an opponent opportunity rate (percentage of runs that get at least four yards) of 52.8 percent — that’s 93rd in the nation.

It will still be a challenge for MSU’s run game that hasn’t shown life yet this season, but there’s an opportunity to be had on Saturday.

A new punt team look

I don’t know if it’s getting new players on the unit or a hard reset this week in coaching philosophy, but something has to change with the punt coverage team. Look, I get the line drive punts weren’t helping last week, but Bryce Baringer is still the best option on this roster. He just averaged 54.0 yards on five punts against Michigan.

As for the rest of the unit? Yikes. Iowa punt returner Charlie Jones averaged 21 yards per return on his five attempts, including the 54-yard touchdown that you or I could’ve also scored on. It’s not the punter’s fault that the gunners whiff every. single. tackling. attempt. This issue even goes back to the Michigan game where Giles Jackson, for some reason, fielded a punt and attempted to return it from Row 23 in the end zone. And, for some reason, he was able to take it out beyond their own red zone.

The punt team has been a major issue this season, so it would just TICKLE me to see that fixed this weekend.

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Michigan State Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Navigating the quarterback situation correctly

It’s clear that something was not right with Rocky (hint: his health). But it’s also clear that even a 75 percent Rocky is better than 100 percent of what he has behind him.

HOWEVER, if MSU falls into a situation like last week where the game is quickly out of reach and Rocky is slinging the ball all over the place...just replace him.

Why do a 2018 quarterback carousel disaster again where you’re playing your hurt guy, benching the healthy guy after a decent game, shattering confidence, etc.?

This is a rebuilding season and MSU isn’t competing for a trip to Indianapolis. If Rocky is a little hurt and not performing, give Payton Thorne some spin. It’s clear he’s the No. 2 guy and a distant No. 2 guy because of lack of experience. So...if the going is really tough, get Thorne some reps. Seems like a good idea! It’s an inconsequential year!

2 Key Stats

Zero

I’m cheating here because “zero” will actually be a stat for both teams in the same categories.

How many turnovers has Indiana had in the last two games? Zero.

How many turnovers has the MSU defense produced in the last two games? DING DING DING, you got it! Zero.

There’s two ways to look at Indiana’s 8-2 turnover margin on the season. 1) Think that they are good at securing the football. 2) THINKING THEY ARE DUE FOR A FEW TURNOVERS, BABY.

78.6

That was the completion percentage of Michael Penix Jr. in last year’s game at Spartan Stadium which, miraculously, MSU won.

He also threw for three touchdowns, 286 yards and zero interceptions. Obviously this Spartan defense is mostly a new team with a new scheme, but the point of this stat is this — mom, hold me, I’m scared of Michael Penix.

By now the cat is out of the bag — Penix is the real deal. Last year he had one of his best games of his young career, so let’s see if he’s as comfortable in Spartan Stadium this year as he was last fall.

1 Best Bet

MSU +7, over/under 51.5

Bounced back, unfortunately, by nailing Iowa -7 last week. I think that one won.

This week I am going to take advantage of a dirty little secret. I’m going to whisper this next part.

Indiana’s offense isn’t that good.

I know that Penix has potential to be electric, but overall the Hoosiers offense is just OK across the board. That leads me to loving that under, so here goes nothing.

Pick: Under 51.5

Record: 1-2

Poll

What is your best bet for this Saturday?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    MSU +7
    (12 votes)
  • 53%
    Indiana -7
    (42 votes)
  • 13%
    Over 51.5
    (11 votes)
  • 17%
    Under 51.5
    (14 votes)
79 votes total Vote Now