Indiana (3-2) at Michigan State (4-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 12, 12 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Spartan Stadium (72,027) -- East Lansing, Michigan. Television: ESPN 2. Home Record: Indiana 3-2, MSU 3-0. Away Record: Indiana 0-0, MSU 1-1. Neutral Record: Indiana 0-0, MSU 0-0. Conference Record: Indiana 1-0, MSU 1-0. Series Record: Michigan State leads, 42-15-2.
GAME NOTES: The Indiana Hoosiers take to the road for the very first time this season as they challenge the Michigan State Spartans in Big Ten Conference action in East Lansing on Saturday.
The Hoosiers, who have not played a road game since visiting Purdue back on Nov. 24, 2012, have alternated wins and losses over the first five games of 2013. The team was most recently in action last Saturday, hosting a Penn State program that was overwhelmed in a 44-24 final. In opening up the conference schedule on a positive note, Indiana exacted revenge on a Nittany Lions squad that defeated the Hoosiers last season, 45-22, in Happy Valley.
More importantly, the win for Indiana was the first-ever against Penn State during their 17-game relationship.
As for the Spartans, who kicked off the campaign with three consecutive home dates against sub-standard opponents, they were out on the road the last two games. Last Saturday, MSU bounced back from a 17-13 loss to Notre Dame by grabbing a 26-14 victory versus Iowa in the conference opener.
In terms of the all-time series between these two squads, the Spartans hold a commanding 42-15-2 advantage dating back to 1922. Michigan State has won four straight and eight of the last nine encounters, including a 31-27 triumph a year ago. The lone win for the Hoosiers in the last decade was a 46-21 blowout at home in 2006.
The Hoosiers exploded for 23 points in the fourth quarter last Saturday versus Penn State, their highest-scoring fourth period in more than two decades, as they picked up that elusive first win over the Nittany Lions. Quarterback Nate Sudfeld converted 23-of-38 for 321 yards and two touchdowns, weathering three sacks and an interception for the Hoosiers.
Cody Latimer caught nine passes for 140 yards and Tevin Coleman came away with a team-best 92 yards and a TD on 20 rushing attempts. Making the most of his five carrier was Tre Roberson who landed in the end zone twice. Of the 13 rushing TDs logged by Indiana thus far, Roberson has four of them on only 22 attempts.
Coleman is clearly the go-to guy for more regular production on the ground, generating 95.6 ypg, averaging 6.3 yards per carry and scoring seven times.
With Sudfeld generating 293.4 ypg through the air, leading to 13 TDs, the Hoosiers are ranked sixth in the country in total offense with 535.0 ypg, leading to 44.4 ppg which is 11th in the nation heading into action this week.
Where the Hoosiers could stand to make some improvements is in stopping the ball on the ground. Through five games the group is permitting 212.2 ypg rushing with his 107th in the nation and because of that the group comes in with 452.6 ypg allowed overall (104th in the FBS).
Kicker Michael Geiger saved the day for the Spartans at Iowa as he made three straight field goals in the second half and four overall for the visitors in their 12-point win. Quarterback Connor Cook connected on 25-of-44 for a career-high 277 yards and two touchdowns for MSU, with Bennie Fowler coming up with nine catches for 92 yards and a score.
Defensively, Darqueze Dennard not only led the group with eight tackles, he also most two interceptions which he returned for a combined 38 yards, en route to being named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week.
Because of the play of Dennard and his teammates, the Spartans own the best overall defense in the country, one that is permitting a mere 203.8 ypg. Opponents have averaged just 51.2 ypg on the ground, the lowest average in the FBS, while the scoring defense is giving up just 13.4 ppg to rank seventh in the nation.
In addition to the aforementioned numbers, another key for MSU has the group allowing foes to convert third downs at a mere 22.1 percent clip, the best mark in the country in that department as well.
With just 355.0 ypg on offense, the Spartans are far from a dominant force on that side of the ball, but still Cook is playing well enough to convert 54.4 percent of his passes for seven touchdowns and just one interception.
With one of the most devastating defenses in the land, Michigan State is a tough team to go up against no matter what type of offense an opponent runs. Sure, the win over Penn State was huge, but Indiana will have a much tougher time coming up with only a fraction of those points this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Michigan State 27, Indiana 14
10/09 10:34:57 ET