We’ve seen this story before. Indiana is 3-1 to open the 2019 season, but the Big Ten always separates pretenders from contenders. The Hoosiers found that out in resounding fashion against Ohio State two weeks ago.
After a brief respite, Indiana returns to conference play against one of the top powers of the league.
IU has kept things close against Michigan State in each of the last two years and beat the Spartans in 2016.
But in their first true road test of the season, the Hoosiers will have to be at their very best to pull off what would be a major upset in East Lansing.
INDIANA (3-1) at No. 25 MICHIGAN STATE (3-1)
- Kickoff: 3:30 Eastern Time
- Location: Spartan Stadium (75,005), East Lansing, Michigan
- Television: BTN
- Series: Michigan State leads the series 47-16-2. (Michigan State won 35-21 in 2018)
- Trophy: The Old Brass Spittoon (since 1950)
- Odds: Michigan State is a 14 point favorite
- Weather at kickoff: 68 degrees, cloudy, wind 7 mph, 5% chance of precipitation.
Tom Allen is 13-16 and now in his third full season as the head coach at Indiana.
Mark Dantonio is Michigan State’s all-time winningest coach with a 110-52 (.679) record in his 13th season. Dantonio served as Cincinnati’s head coach from 2004-06 and carries an overall record of 128-69 (.650).
- Tom Allen previews the game
- Mark Dantonio previews the game
- Indiana about to be tested
- Cam Jones showing why he moved to linebacker
- Penix progressing but still a game time decision
TALE OF THE TAPE
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BTN GAME PREVIEW
WHEN MICHIGAN STATE HAS THE FOOTBALL
Michigan State’s offense got things going against Northwestern last weekend, but for the most part MSU has been a disappointment with the football, ranking just 75th in total offense.
A name that is likely familiar to Hoosier fans continues to lead the Spartan offense.
Fifth-year senior quarterback Brian Lewerke has completed 62.3 percent of his passes (86-for-138) for 1,025 yards, seven touchdowns and just one interception. Lewerke is a big quarterback that can run when necessary.
It will be strength against strength when Lewerke looks to throw, as the MSU passing offense and Hoosier passing defense have been the superior aspect of each unit.
Fifth-year senior Darrell Stewart Jr. has been Lewerke’s main target with 30 receptions for 439 yards and one touchdown. He is tied for ninth in the nation in receptions per game (7.5) and is 10th in receiving yards per game (109.8).
Cody White has 16 catches for 190 yards and two touchdowns.
Indiana’s defense relies on pressure in the pocket and will need to get to Lewerke in this one. That won’t be easy with Michigan State tied for 16th in the nation in sacks allowed per game with just 1.0 per contest.
Elijah Collins is Michigan State’s featured running back. The redshirt freshman leads the team with 61 carries for 357 yards and two touchdowns.
The Spartans have had injuries along their offensive line which have hampered their ability to run the football.
WHEN INDIANA HAS THE FOOTBALL
For the third straight week it is not clear who Indiana will start at quarterback.
Michael Penix started the first two games and has completed 63.3 percent of his passes (38-for-60) for 523 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Penix has added nine carries for 79 yards.
Peyton Ramsey has completed 74.3 percent of his throws (55-for-74) for 635 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. The Ohio native started against Michigan State each of the last two years.
Ramsey was 22-for-34 passing for 158 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions in a 17-9 loss at Michigan State in 2017, and he completed 32 of 46 passes for 272 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in a 35-21 loss to the Spartans last year.
Michigan State has veterans in its defensive backfield and is tied for fifth nationally in interceptions with six.
Michigan State has been highly effective at pressuring the quarterback in 2019. The Spartans are tied for ninth in sacks per game (3.75). Defensive end Kenny Willekes leads the team with four.
IU has struggled to run the football all year, and Michigan State looks to be their toughest challenge yet.
The Hoosiers rank 102nd in the nation in rushing at 120.5 yards per game. Stevie Scott has 58 rushes for 215 yards and four touchdowns to lead the way. He had 11 carries for just 18 yards against Michigan State in 2018.
Things won’t get any easier after a significant injury up front for IU.
Coy Cronk, a four-year starter at left tackle, suffered a season-ending leg injury last week. True freshman Matthew Bedford and fifth year senior DaVondre Love will be called into duty to replace Cronk.
Each week we wonder if Michael Penix will return to the lineup and how that will impact the game. His strong arm would seem to give IU a better shot in a game like this, but now you have to wonder about rust.
Whoever plays quarterback, the Hoosiers are going to struggle to put points on the board.
Last year Michigan State got a score from their defense to go with a special teams touchdown on a fake field goal. The Hoosiers can’t afford to give up a score in either phase if they want to hang in this one.
If the Hoosiers stand a chance, they will need big plays from their defense and special teams.
Even that may not be enough. IU might keep it close for a while, but Tom Allen has never won as an underdog. We see the Spartans pulling away in this one.
MICHIGAN STATE 31
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