Hoosiers Host Michigan State

The Hoosiers will return home to the comfort of Memorial Stadium on Saturday to take on a Michigan State squad that is coming off a close loss to Notre Dame. Michigan State was shocked earlier in the year by Rutgers, and has only beaten Central Michigan. Let's break down the Spartans and determine what the Hoosiers must do to win.

Against Kentucky, Indiana proved that they are not in the top half of the Big Ten yet despite good wins against Central Michigan and Oregon. The defense really struggled against a fast paced Kentucky offense that featured a good option and a good running back. The offense however showed some life for the Hoosiers, which was the only real improvement of the game. The Hoosiers will return home to the comfort of Memorial Stadium on Saturday to take on a Michigan State squad that is coming off a close loss to Notre Dame. Michigan State was shocked earlier in the year by Rutgers, and has only beaten Central Michigan. Let's break down the Spartans and determine what the Hoosiers must do to win.

Offense: What use to be one of the best offenses in the NCAA has been slowed down by the lack of a quality quarterback. Since Jeff Smoker graduated, the Spartans have been looking for a new gun slinger. Drew Stanton was supposed to lead the Spartans offense once he returned from injury, however Stanton is back now, and still not being listed as the starting QB. Instead Stephen Reaves will look to bounce back from his 3 interception game against ND where he only managed 66 yards passing. The good thing for the Spartans is that they have one of the better receiving corps in the Big Ten, however they still need someone to get the ball to them. Kyle Brown leads the receivers with 176 yards on 10 catches. Jason Teague leads the rushing attack, but is not a big play runner.

Defense: The Spartans are not the best run stopping team in the nation, as they have allowed around 200 rushing yards per game so far this year. There is strength in the DB's however, as FSA Jason Harmon lead the team in tackles and interceptions last year. Opponents are averaging 377 yards per game this year, and the defense has not faced a high powered offense yet. The Hoosiers running game should do well against the Spartan line, opening up some space for the wide receivers to wander. Michigan State's defense will have to step up to stop the Hoosiers running game. They will also have to get more pressure on the quarterback, as they are only averaging one sack a game at this point.

Special Teams: Extra points have not been a problem for kicker Dave Rayner, but he is only 2-5 in field goals for the year, missing from 52, 42, and 23 yards away. Brandon Fields has been very good as the MSU punter, averaging 48 yards on his kicks, and pinning opponents inside the 20 yard line four times. The Spartans have average kick and punt returners, but DeAndra Cobb can break a kick return on occasion, and already has returned a kickoff for a touchdown this year.

Prediction for Michigan State: The Spartans lost to a Rutgers team that they should have beaten, lost to a Notre Dame team that seems to have improved, and beat a creampuff in Central Michigan. The Spartans are having problems with the lead of their offense, and until a quarterback steps up to take the job, they will continue to struggle. After a poor start, a .500 season would be a success.

Intangibles: Both the Hoosiers and Spartans are licking their wounds after losing last week, and one of the teams will have to come out strong to show they can bounce back. Michigan State has had 9 fumbles and 4 interceptions on offense this year, which could fall into the hands of an opportunistic Hoosier Defense. The Spartans are only 25% on 3rd down conversions, and will have to improve those numbers unless they like punting. Indiana will be playing with some heart, as they are looking to prove that their last game was a fluke and not their first two.

Bold Prediction: The Hoosiers are 3 point underdogs coming into the game, which means that the game will be close according to the betting man. A pair of inconsistent passing games and poor defenses could have told that story though. This game will be determined by who steps up on offense and controls the ball. The Hoosier's running game has that ability and could wear down the Spartan defense. Indiana will come up big before their matchup with Michigan and pull off a seven point win.

Game time is set for 11:00AM Eastern Time, and will be aired as part of the ESPN GamePlan package. You can listen to the game on the Indiana Radio network with the voice of Don Fischer broadcasting.

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