Michigan State (3-2) at Indiana (2-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 29, 12:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Stadium (52,929) -- Bloomington, Indiana. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: MSU 2-2, IU 1-1. Away Record: MSU 1-0, IU 1-1. Neutral Record: MSU 0-0, IU 0-0. Conference Record: MSU 0-1, IU 0-1. Series Record: Michigan State leads, 41-15-2.
GAME NOTES: The Big Ten Conference's top passing team takes on its best defensive club, as the Indiana Hoosiers play host to the Michigan State Spartans this Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington.
Michigan State opened the season with wins over Boise State (17-13) and Central Michigan (41-7), but losses in two of its last three outings dropped the team from the ranks of the AP Top-25. The Spartans began league play last week at home against Ohio State, but the offense couldn't get into a rhythm and they dropped a 17-16 decision. It was the fourth straight home loss to the Buckeyes for Michigan State.
MSU, which recently completed a three-game home stand and is playing just its second road game of the season this week, will actually play three of its next four away from home.
Indiana won its first two games as well, topping FCS foe Indiana State (24-17) and FBS newcomer UMass (45-6), but back-to-back losses has the team an even 2-2 at the moment. The Hoosiers' most recent setback occurred in last week's league lidlifter, a 44-29 final at Northwestern.
IU is playing its third home game of the campaign this Saturday, and it will entertain Ohio State next week before hitting the road for a pair of bouts at Navy and Illinois.
Michigan State has won 11 of the last 13 meetings with Indiana, and comes into this clash sporting a 41-15-2 advantage in the all-time series.
Andrew Maxwell threw for 269 yards and one TD, but the Spartans still dropped a one-point decision to visiting Ohio State last Saturday. Maxwell completed just over half of his 42 pass attempts, and the Michigan State run game never found its footing, finishing with a net 34 yards on 22 attempts. The Buckeyes held the Big Ten's leading rusher, Le'Veon Bell (131 ypg, five TDs), to a mere 45 yards on 17 carries (2.6 ypc). Bell caught a team-high eight balls for 58 yards, while WR Keith Mumphery finished with five grabs for 79 yards and a score.
PK Dan Conroy was a busy man as he booted three field goals, including a career high-tying 50-yarder in the third quarter.
In addition to Bell's exploits this season, Maxwell currently ranks second in the conference with 227.6 ypg, but he has thrown just four TD passes. He has been intercepted only three times, but is completing a lackluster 55.7 percent of his attempts. TE Dion Sims averages roughly five receptions per contest.
Michigan State averages a league-low 20.0 ppg, but the team's defensive effort yields a Big Ten-best 12.8 ppg. The Spartans have also been the conference's top team with regard to total yardage allowed (263.4 ypg), and the unit is led by LB Max Bullough and his 38 tackles. MSU has logged nine turnovers through five games, but only four sacks have been registered.
The Spartans surrendered 204 rushing yards to Ohio State last weekend, 136 of which were credited to Buckeyes' QB Braxton Miller. It was a rather poor effort considering the team permits an average of 96.2 ypg on the ground for the season. Bullough and safety Isaiah Lewis logged 12 and 10 tackles, respectively, and the unit as a whole was credited with three takeaways.
The Indiana offense, which was shut out in the opening half before coming to life after the break, generated 425 yards against Northwestern last Saturday, with QBs Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld combining to throw for 266 yards, one TD and an interception. WRs Kofi Hughes (five receptions, 110 yards, one TD) and Cody Latimer (four receptions, 97 yards) both had big games for the Hoosiers, while the run game saw RB Stephen Houston tally 91 yards and a score on only 11 carries.
Despite the fact that three different signal-callers have taken snaps this season, the Hoosiers come into this clash ranked first in the Big Ten in passing (311.0 ypg), second in total offense (510.0 ypg) and third in scoring (34.2 ppg). All three QBs are hitting at least 62.5 percent of their pass attempts, and they have combined for eight TDs and only two interceptions. WR Cody Latimer has proven to be the team's top threat down the field, as he has 18 catches for 320 yards and two scores. Houston has a team-high four rushing TDs, but he averages just 63.8 ypg.
While the offense has been on point for much of the season, the same can't be said about the IU defense, which currently ranks 11th in the league in points allowed (27.0 ppg) and dead last in total defense (448.8 ypg). The Hoosiers have been especially lax against the run, permitting a league-worst 213.5 ypg. DT Adam Replogle and LB David Cooper sit atop the team's tackles list with 28 apiece, the two combining for 6.5 of the Hoosiers' 29 TFL (7.25 per game). Indiana has only forced five turnovers, three of which came in last week's loss to Northwestern.
Speaking of that clash, the IU defense was battered into submission by the Wildcats as the unit surrendered 704 total yards, nearly 400 of which came on the ground. Safety Mark Murphy led the way with 11 tackles, while Replogle added 10 and Cooper finished with eight. The Hoosiers tallied nine TFL.
Bell should be able to get back on track against the Big Ten's worst run defense, which should in turn give the edge to the visiting Spartans.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Michigan State 31, Indiana 21
10/03 10:38:07 ET