The look ahead to the 2022 schedule continues for ranking Michigan State’s football opponents this coming season. Up today is the opponent I deem the third easiest: the Indiana Hoosiers.
2021 Record: 2-10 (0-9 Big Ten)
After a magical season 6-2 season in 2020 (shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic) that saw Indiana finally take down the Big Ten East trio of Michigan State, Michigan, and Penn State all in the same year, 2021 was the complete opposite for IU. The Hoosiers started the preseason ranked No. 17 in the AP Poll before going victory-less in conference play.
Even in the non-conference schedule, IU had the ill-fortune of hosting non-conference opponent Cincinnati in a season where the Bearcats shattered the glass ceiling for Group of Five programs to earn a bid to the College Football Playoff. Nor did it help Indiana that some of the team’s stars, such as quarterback Michael Penix, Jr., were injured for a large chunk of Big Ten play. Overall, 30 players missed games and 18 of those were of a season-ending nature injury wise.
The Spartans will be facing off against the Hoosiers for the 69th time in a series that dates back to 1922. Michigan State is currently riding a one-game winning streak in the series, taking back the Old Brass Spittoon from Indiana in 2021. Overall, MSU holds the edge in the all-time series, 49-17-2.
2022 Program Outlook
Penix has left for Washington (so he will see Michigan State again in 2022), but Indiana head coach Tom Allen grabbed Missouri transfer quarterback Connor Bazelak out of the transfer portal. Bazelak enrolled in the spring in Bloomington after two seasons on the field (and a third year redshirting in 2019) in Columbia where he threw for 5,058 yards with 23 touchdowns (plus two rushing scores) and 17 interceptions. He earned SEC Co-Freshman of the Year in 2020. However, he will be behind an offensive line that returns a number of starters from last season who struggled mightily in run blocking.
The IU defense will most likely be its strength with a returning front four on the defensive line, a good linebacker corps likely led by Cam Jones and a strong secondary featuring All-American cornerback Tiawan Mullen who returned after a 2021 season hampered by injuries.
Why No. 10?
Indiana is a trophy game for the Old Brass Spittoon and a regular on the schedule for the Spartans in the Big Ten East. However, this is not the 2020 squad for IU and it is not the 2016 Michigan State squad that was upset in Bloomington. The Hoosiers have a lot of question marks to answer as a team, and while this game gives lots of time to figure that out, it also means a late November matchup on senior day in East Lansing. That should easily favor the Spartans by then, depending on the health of the team.
If injuries don’t derail another season for IU, this matchup could by no means be a walk in the park. The Hoosiers have often featured a stout defense under Allen, who started as defensive coordinator in Bloomington before being elevated to head coach. Look no further than last season’s narrow 20-15 win at Memorial Stadium by an eventual 11-2 Spartans squad.
Still, Michigan State top to bottom should have the talent advantage in this matchup, and the battle for conference standings and bowl selection to partner as motivation for the Spartans along with senior day to play for. MSU should get the victory in this one by more than a touchdown.
Catch up on the rankings here:
No. 12 Akron Zips
No. 11 Western Michigan Broncos
No. 10: Indiana Hoosiers
No 9: Coming soon
2022 MSU Football Schedule
|Sept. 2||Western Michigan||East Lansing, MI||7:00 PM||ESPN|
|Sept. 10||Akron||East Lansing, MI||4:00 PM||BTN|
|Sept. 17||Washington||Seattle, WA||7:30 PM||ABC|
|Sept. 24||Minnesota||East Lansing, MI||TBA||TBA|
|Oct. 1||Maryland||College Park, MD||TBA||TBA|
|Oct. 8||Ohio State||East Lansing, MI|
|Oct. 15||Wisconsin||East Lansing, MI||3:30/4:00 PM||TBA|
|Oct. 29||Michigan||Ann Arbor, MI||TBA||TBA|
|Nov. 5||Illinois||Champaign, IL||TBA||TBA|
|Nov. 12||Rutgers||East Lansing, MI||TBA||TBA|
|Nov. 19||Indiana||East Lansing, MI||TBA||TBA|
|Nov. 26||Penn State||State College, PA||TBA||TBA|