After defeating the Rutgers Scarlet Knights last week, the Michigan State Spartans conclude a two-game road trip this weekend against Indiana, and are hoping to head into the bye week at a perfect 7-0. The Hoosiers are not anywhere near as good as the pre-season hype, while MSU has come out of nowhere to be a top-10 team in the country. So let’s get right to it and take a look at Indiana.
School: Indiana University
Location: Bloomington, Indiana
Head Coach: Tom Allen (fifth season, 26-25 overall)
Rivalry Trophy at Stake: Old Brass Spittoon
All Time Series: Michigan State leads 48-17-2, and has won 10 of last 12 meetings.
Indiana came into the season ranked after going 6-2 last year, with its lone conference loss being a close one at Ohio State. Things have not gone the way the Hoosiers have hoped this year, in part due to a brutal schedule. Indiana has played three teams currently ranked in the top-10 in Iowa, Cincinnati and Penn State. The Spartans will be IU’s fourth in six games, and Ohio State is waiting after that.
The offense for Indiana has not been where it has been in recent years. The Hoosiers currently rank 99th in the country in scoring, averaging 23.8 points per game. And a lot of that is due to the 56 points they put up against FCS Idaho. In the other four games, IU is averaging under 16 points per game, including a shutout by Penn State in the team’s last game.
The rushing offense ranks 100th overall with 122.2 yards per game. The yards per attempt numbers are even worse, at 3.38 yards per rush, which ranks 109th in the country.
Things are a little better through the air, where the Hoosiers are averaging 221.4 yards per game (No. 79 overall), but the efficiency numbers are very bad. Indiana is averaging just 6.2 yards per pass, which is 114th in the nation, and the Hoosiers have thrown eight interceptions against just five touchdowns. The team quarterback rating comes in at No. 122 in the country.
The defense is allowing 28.2 points per game, which ranks 89th overall.
Teams have been held somewhat in check on the ground against IU, as the rush defense is 49th overall allowing 128.6 yards per game and 4.12 yards per carry, which is 76th in the country.
Teams are throwing for 223 yards per game (60th) and 6.2 yards per attempt (20th) against the Hoosier defense. Those numbers aren’t terrible, but IU has allowed nine touchdown passes with only two interceptions.
Players to Watch
The big news for this game is that Indiana will likely be without quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who suffered a separated shoulder in the loss to Penn State. If Penix is indeed out, the job falls to Jack Tuttle, who has appeared in games each of the last three seasons.
Currently, Tuttle has completed eight of 18 passes on the year with 168 yards and one touchdown and one interception. Last year, he threw for 362 yards with two touchdowns and one pick. He has four carries for eight yards and doesn’t run much.
USC transfer running back Stephen Carr has handled almost all of the rushing duties this year. Carr has 386 yards on 102 carries (3.78 YPA) and three touchdowns. He has also caught five passes for 31 yards and a touchdown out of the backfield.
The Hoosiers still have an experienced receiving corps, led by Ty Fryfogle, who has a team high 26 catches and is second on the team with 272 yards.
Tight end Peyton Hendershot leads the team with 274 receiving yards and is second on the team with 21 catches. Both Fryfogle and Hendershot have one touchdown grab each.
On defense, senior defensive lineman Ryder Anderson leads the team with three sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss and 29 overall tackles. He also has a forced fumble for good measure.
Linebacker Micah McFadden also has 6.5 tackles for loss, a couple of sacks, is tied for second on the team in tackles, and has recovered a fumble.
Senior defensive backs Raheem Layne and Marcelino McCrary-Ball each have an interception for the Hoosier defense.
On special teams, junior kicker Charles Campbell has made seven-of-eight field goals and all 12 extra points this year after going 10-for-11 a year ago.
Freshman punter James Evans is averaging over 43 yards per punt in his first season in Bloomington.
That’s what Michigan State has on tap this week. Not a whole lot going on for Indiana this year, although its defense has been decent. The offensive issues were there even before the Penix injury, so it will be interesting to see how the Hoosiers look without him after the bye week. MSU has been punishing opposing quarterbacks this year, and Tuttle does not have the experience of Penix, so the Spartans should be able to force some bad throws. MSU should have the advantage here, even on the road, to get to the bye week undefeated.