Let’s take a look at what some of the experts on the Cream & Crimson side are saying about this Saturday night’s Big Ten season opener between the 1-1 Michigan State Spartans and the 3-0 Indiana Hoosiers in Bloomington.
It’s one thing to look in the mirror to see just how handsome I am.
It’s another thing, however, to read a report on what someone else thinks about my good looks.
We’ve spent the week examining the many dynamics related to the Spartans’ Big Ten season opener in Bloomington against the surging 3-0 Indiana Hoosiers.
We’ve touched on how the last trip to Bloomington didn’t go well for Michigan State.
We’ve looked at the ways in which Michigan State has struggled to get a ground attack going through the first two games and has had to work through a long bye-week and think about the frustrating 1-1 start to the season.
We’ve provided a full game preview, analysis, and prediction – and SpartansWire is bullish on Michigan State’s chances of heading back to East Lansing with a 2-1 record and an initial victory in conference play.
This game has the potential to serve as a bit of a re-boot for the Spartans.
Can the Michigan State offense get its running game revved up?
Can the Michigan State defense corral the Indiana passing attack and limit an opponent to less than 300 yards through the air for the first time in this young season?
We’ve looked at all of these factors.
But what about the view from the other side?
Kudos to the folks at HoosierHuddle – they’ve done their homework and seem to have a pretty good understanding of how this Michigan State team has performed through two games.
What do the folks at HoosierHuddle think are the keys to the game and how do they think this game will go?
Thanks, @TJHoosierHuddle – good stuff….
Written By T.J. Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)
Week Four Primer – Michigan State Spartans
What: Indiana Hoosiers (3-0) vs. #23 Michigan State Spartans (1-1)
Where: Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, IN
When: Saturday, September 22, 7:30 EST
How to Watch: The game will be broadcast on BTN. You can also listen to the legendary Don Fischer on the radio on any IU Radio Network station.
What’s at Stake: The Indiana Hoosiers are 3-0 after sweeping their non-conference slate. That puts IU halfway to bowl eligibility and they now get a chance to host a ranked Spartans team in the Big Ten opener. Michigan State has visions of contending for a Big Ten East title and a loss at Indiana would all but doom those aspirations. These two teams also battle for the Old Brass Spittoon. The rivalry has been one-sided of late, with Indiana winning only once (2016 at Memorial Stadium) since 2006. A victory over MSU would put the Hoosiers at 4-0 and put them in legitimate position to receive some votes in the Top 25 poll.
Things to Watch
1. Who Will Control the Line of Scrimmage?
Throughout the offseason, the Indiana Hoosiers coaching staff and players made one thing very clear: they had to do a better job of running the ball. Three games into the 2018 season, the Hoosiers have made that hope a reality. They have run for more than 200 yards in each contest and are averaging an impressive 5.3 yards per carry. True freshman running back Stevie Scott has been a revelation, carrying the ball 69 times for 388 yards with three touchdowns and looking like a feature back that will anchor the offense for years to come. IU’s offensive line has a whole lot of confidence and is playing at a high-level right now. The same cannot be said for Michigan State’s line. The Spartans have only played two games but they are averaging just 3.3 yards per carry and senior LJ Scott only has 103 yards on 30 carries. Michigan State is bound to improve in this area but the Hoosiers certainly hope to control the line of scrimmage and pound the Spartans into submission.
2. Lewerke and the Air Attack
Indiana hopes to continue limiting MSU’s success on the ground. Doing so would make their offense one-dimensional. That one dimension is going to be very difficult to stop as Brian Lewerke is talented and the wide receiver corps is full of big-play threats. Having an effective running game would make this crew really tough to slow so forcing them into obvious passing situations is paramount. Cody White, Felton Davis and Darrell Stewart are the three best targets and each of them has more than 110 yards in only two games. IU will need to stop the run and then manage to get pressure on Lewerke. The Hoosiers have a very capable secondary that has been terrific against the pass so far this season. MSU’s passing game likely won’t overwhelm the Hoosiers but if they can run the ball a little bit and force IU to pay attention to it and then if IU can’t effectively generate pressure on Lewerke, MSU’s passing game could be the Hoosiers undoing.
3. Big Game Special Teams
This figures to be a game that is decided by a small margin. In big games, special teams plays can make a huge difference and can ultimately be the difference in winning or losing. Two weeks ago, IU’s special teams gaffes nearly cost them a win against Virginia. Last week, the special teams unit was spectacular as punt returner J-Shun Harris looked as dangerous as ever and the Hoosiers appeared to have blocking on field goal or PAT attempts sorted out. Michigan State will be without their starting punter and there are concerns about the backup punter’s ability to perform consistently. Performing in the third phase of the game could be critical to success.
What the Sharps Say
The betting line is Michigan State (-5) with an over/under of 48 points. Vegas expects a low scoring affair and FPI gives Michigan State a 79% chance of victory.