IU QB Kellen Lewis vs. MSU OLB SirDarean Adams - The multi-faceted Lewis presents some challenges for a Spartan defensive that has been more than gratuitous in recent weeks, giving up at least 31 points in four of its last five games. Slowing him down and forcing him into mistakes is priority one for the Spartans and Coach John L. Smith.
Expect to see Smith lean on Adams to try to get that done. Adams will line up at the Bandit position for the Spartans, allowing him to be in the box and play the run on occasion while also dropping box into coverage on passing downs.
The 6-0, 230-pound junior is an excellent athlete who has the sort of speed to keep up with Lewis when he takes off running. He'll also drop back into coverage as well when the Hoosiers go with their four wide receiver sets, and don't be surprised to see Adams blitzing often as well. The Spartans rank 111th out of 117 Division I-A teams with only eight sacks in eight games this season, and Smith will likely try to bring some additional pass rushers to disrupt Lewis.
Lewis hasn't thrown an interception since Big Ten play opened, and as a result he's helped guide the Hoosiers to wins over Illinois and Iowa and within two games of bowl eligibility. Turnovers figure to play a very big role in this match-up, particularly since these two teams are both giving up more than 32 points/game since conference play opened.
Indiana vs. Michigan State in the First Quarter - This is a huge game for both programs. Indiana is trying to get a third Big Ten win for the first time since 2001 and move within one victory of bowl eligibility. Michigan State is also trying to inch closer to a bowl invitation and is also fighting for the John L. Smith's job.
What unfolds in the first quarter will go a long way toward determining which program will walk away with the much-needed victory. Michigan State is trying to build on its improbable 41-38 win at Northwestern last week, a game that saw the Spartans battle back from a 38-3 deficit in the second half. They're riding the sort of emotional high they haven't experienced since before their late-game meltdown against Notre Dame that started a four-game losing streak.
Indiana, meanwhile, believes this is a game it must have to get six wins this season, and it's a contest they believe they can win. That's why IU Coach Terry Hoeppner and the IU Athletic Department have gone to great lengths to get a big turnout at Memorial Stadium Saturday. This is arguably the biggest game in IU football in the last 10 years since a win would give the Hoosiers three chances to earn an invite to a postseason bowl.
Indiana overcome a dismal start at Illinois and a sluggish start in its win against Iowa, while the Spartans obviously recovered from its huge first-half hole last weekend against Northwestern. But you can only go to the well so many times, and a slow start could be a recipe for disaster for either team.
What's coming up:
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday - Four Players to Know
On Wednesday – Three Big Concerns
On Thursday – Two Key Matchups
On Friday – One Bold Prediction
Two Days and Counting...
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