Record: 3-3, 0-3 (Big Ten East)
Last Result: L vs Michigan, 20-27 (OT)
Record: 5-1, 3-0 (Big Ten East)
Last Result: W at Minnesota, 30-27
Trophy: Old Brass Spittoon (Awarded to the winning team since 1950)
First meeting: 1922 (Indiana won 14-6)
Last meeting: 2016 (Indiana won 24-21 in OT)
Series meetings: 63
Series record: Michigan State leads 45-16-2
Game time: 3:30 p.m. Eastern
Location: East Lansing, Michigan
Stadium: Spartan Stadium
Line: Michigan State -6.5
Indiana heads into East Lansing seeking back-to-back victories in this series for the first time since the 1993 and 1994 seasons. Last season, the Hoosiers defeated the Spartans for the first time since 2006 by pulling out a 24-21 overtime victory.
This year Michigan State is riding high after opening the Big Ten slate with three consecutive victories, including a 14-10 upset win over their rivals in Ann Arbor. How have the Spartans been able to turn the page on 2016?
The return of the ‘No Fly Zone’ has made the Spartans one of the most formidable defenses in the Big Ten. Michigan State is currently ranked No. 5 nationally in total defense and No. 13 in passing yards allowed with just 170.5 yards per game allowed. One player to look out for is true freshman cornerback Josiah Scott. Despite his inexperience, Scott has played well ahead of his years with a 35.9 passer rating against (3rd lowest in the Big Ten). Scott had his worst performance of the season last Saturday, allowing two late touchdowns during Minnesota’s comeback bid. If the young corner can forget about his struggles from a week ago, he could be in for a big game on Saturday.
Another player to keep an eye on is junior running back L.J. Scott, who was arrested for driving with a suspended license earlier this week. Despite the off-field trangressions, Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio has announced Scott will play Saturday against the Hoosiers. Scott is coming off a career game where he ran for 194 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Golden Gophers. It will be interesting to see how Dantonio decides to handle his playing time. If Scott sees reduced snaps, look for Madre London and Gerald Holmes to carry the load in the back field.
Meanwhile Indiana nearly pulled off an upset of Michigan at home, only to fall short in overtime 27-20. The Hoosiers had a chance to send the game to a second overtime, but failed to score on four consecutive plays from within the two-yard line.
Redshirt freshman Patrick Ramsey received his first start last Saturday after splitting time with Richard Lagow. The young signal caller had mixed results in his debut with 178 yards passing with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. He faces a Michigan State defense that has wrecked havoc on opposing quarterbacks with 16 sacks through 6 games.
The Hoosiers conference record may be a bit deceiving as they have played Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan to start the Big Ten slate. The road to bowl eligibility is sure to get easier for Indiana. While in the past the Hoosiers have been known for their offense, it is their defense that has carried the team this season. Indiana is 7th in the Big Ten in total defense and 4th in pass defense, despite playing arguably three of the top teams. Senior Tegray Scales, a preseason All-American at linebacker, leads the team with 48 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Senior cornerback Rashard Fant is name for NFL Draft addicts to keep an eye on as well. Fant is currently ranked as the 9th best senior corner according to NFLdraftscout.com.
As evident by last week’s performance, the Hoosiers are not a team to be taken lightly. Spartan quarterback Brian Lewerke has done a nice job taking care of the ball with just three interceptions this season. Expect the Michigan State defense to force a couple turnovers as the Spartans grind out another quality win.
Michigan State 26, Indiana 14