As college football season draws ever-closer, we’re running down Indiana’s schedule to preview its opponents for 2023.
Michigan State is just the fourth team (second Big Ten team) on Indiana’s schedule that did not play in a bowl game in 2022. IU knocked off the Spartans last year in East Lansing in overtime behind a heavy rushing attack, giving the Hoosiers the Old Oaken Bucket for the second time in three years.
- Opponent: Michigan State
- Date/Time/TV: Saturday, November 18, TBA
- Location: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Ind.
- 2022 record/postseason result: 5-7, 3-6 Big Ten
Returning production, offense: 80 percent (per Bill Connelly/ESPN)
Offensive outlook: Michigan State, statistically, has a lot of returning production on offense. But the Spartans still have to replace some key pieces this season.
Quarterback Payton Thorne transferred to Auburn, and the Spartans have not yet declared a starter between redshirt junior Noah Kim, redshirt freshman Katin Houser, and true freshman Sam Leavitt. Leading receiver Keon Coleman transferred to Florida State, and second-leading receiver Jayden Reed graduated. Redshirt senior Tre Mosley was third on the team with 359 yards on 35 catches with four touchdowns, and he could be the top option this year. Senior Alante Brown transferred to MSU from Nebraska, and he could be a factor as well. Redshirt freshman Antonio Gates Jr. could also be intriguing.
Junior starting running back Jalen Berger is back, after recording 148 carries for 683 yards and six touchdowns last year. Two transfer portal additions — redshirt sophomore Nathan Carter (UConn) and Jaren Mangham (USF) — will be threats as well. Michigan State’s running game was disappointing in 2022, but it could be much improved this year.
MSU’s offensive line was solid last season. Pro Football Focus ranked the Spartans fifth in the Big Ten in run-blocking and fourth in pass-blocking. Three of five starters return from that unit.
Returning production, defense: 56 percent (per Bill Connelly/ESPN)
Defensive outlook: Michigan State’s defense was not very good in 2022. The Spartans ranked near the bottom of the Big Ten in both passing and rushing defense, and they tied for last in takeaways.
Of MSU’s core eight defensive starters from last year (the other spots rotated starters more frequently), five return. Most notably, All-Big Ten linebacker Cal Haladay is back after tying for second in the conference in tackles, and tying for sixth with 11 tackles for loss. Outside linebacker Jacoby Windmon is also back after leading the Spartans with 5.5 sacks last year.
Redshirt sophomore Tunmise Adeleye was one of the top available players in the transfer portal this offseason out of Texas A&M — 247Sports ranked him the No. 36 overall transfer. He’s a former five-star recruit who just didn’t break out with the Aggies. He arrives in East Lansing looking to give the MSU pass rush a major jolt.
Michigan State was one of just three Big Ten teams to allow over 400 yards of total offense per game to opponents last season. The defense has done that each of the last two seasons — the only season in Mel Tucker’s tenure in which MSU has finished under 400 was in 2020, when it allowed 396.7 yards per game. That simply won’t get the job done often enough to keep the team competitive.
Returning starters, special teams: kick returner Tyrell Henry
Special teams outlook: MSU has to replace first team All-Big Ten punter Bryce Baringer, who led the country with 49 yards per punt. That might be a lot for redshirt senior Ohio State transfer Michael O’Shaughnessy or redshirt freshman Ryan Eckley to handle. Starting kicker Jack Stone is also gone, after transferring to Baylor. Redshirt senior Jonathan Kim came in from North Carolina this offseason, though he has not yet been named the starter. Henry was not the sole kick returner for the Spartans last year, but he led the team with 10 returns, averaging 18.3 yards per return. And with last year’s punt returner, Jayden Reed, also gone, Henry could slot in there as well this year.
Overall Outlook: This is a team with some real question marks to answer this season. The Spartans have enough pieces in place that they shouldn’t be among the worst teams in the conference, but there are serious concerns on defense that could hold back the rest of the team. Michigan State’s quarterback decision will determine a lot about how good that offense can be. But if the Spartans can’t turn things around defensively, it might not matter.
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