Spartans ring up Hoosiers, 52-27

The Michigan State Spartans discovered one of the few ways to stop break-out Hoosier talent Kellen Lewis…keep him off the field. During the 60 minutes of football played on Saturday, the Hoosier offense possessed the ball for just 19. That, plus an outstanding rushing performance from Spartan Javon Ringer, explains the Hoosiers crushing 52-27 loss in East Lansing.

The Michigan State Spartans discovered one of the few ways to stop break-out Hoosier talent Kellen Lewis…keep him off the field. During the 60 minutes of football played on Saturday, the Hoosier offense possessed the ball for just 19. While the Spartans were scoring 24 points in the opening half, Indiana was able to run just 14 offensive plays in total. That discrepancy led to a 24-13 halftime lead for the Spartans, one they would never look back from as Michigan State coasted to a 52-27 victory Saturday night in East Lansing.

"You have to give the credit to Michigan State," said Indiana Coach Bill Lynch. "They came to play and they played a great football game and just really dominated it from start to finish.

"We couldn't get them off the field and we didn't do much once we were on the field to stay there."

It seemed like the night might unfold differently for the Hoosiers after quarterback Kellen Lewis ran for a 59-yard touchdown the first time he touched the football Saturday. That tied the game at 7-7 early on, but Lewis and the rest of the Hoosier offense were nearly invisible for the remainder of the half.

Meanwhile, the Spartans made their physical presence known from the very beginning and never let up.

Michigan State tailback Javon Ringer continued to show why he is considered one of the Big Ten's best rushers as he carved the Hoosiers up for 143 yards and two touchdowns on his first 11 carries. At that point there was still three quarters of football to be played, but little life left in the Hoosiers. Ringer would finish the game with 199 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries and fellow tailback Jehuu Caulcrick rushed for 96 yards and three scores as the Spartan ground game totally dominated IU with 365 rushing yards. By comparison, the Hoosiers managed just 23 yards on the ground, as a bevvy of sacks negated any early gains by Lewis and made the Hoosier offense just spectators.

"When you are standing on the sideline and somebody is running the ball on you like that you want to get the tape out and see exactly what happened," said Lynch. "We obviously didn't have all our gaps filled and our leverage, but that was an impressive offensive line and they came with a definite plan they were going to pound it on us and they really did a good job."

Besides Lewis' mad dash to the end zone early in the game, the IU offense had to struggle for anything and everything they got against the Spartans. Indiana would manage just two more scores in the first half, both kicks by Austin Starr, whose 40 and 47 yard field goals gave him a new school record with 11 consecutive made attempts. One could convincingly argue that Starr was the Hoosiers most valuable player on the night almost by default. No other Hoosier made much of an impact against the Spartans. Hoosier star receiver James Hardy had some big plays (six catches, 120 yards), but just two catches in the first half and no scores. Hardy wouldn't find the endzone until 1:47 left in the third quarter. It gave him his eighth consecutive game with a receiving touchdown, but it was purely decorative as the Hoosiers still trailed by 21 points.

"We knew if we could come out and get something going we would have a chance, but we didn't," Lynch said. "They took it to us from the beginning."

But if the IU offense was punchless, then the Hoosier defense was helpless. A physical Spartan offensive line pushed Indiana around all day and their tailbacks and receivers outfought the IU defense at every turn. In addition to the pounding the defense received from Ringer and Caulcrick, they were also victimized by receiver Devin Thomas. The dangerous wideout went up and over IU cornerback Leslie Majors to grab a 34-yard touchdown and finished the evening with 13 catches for 149 yards. Spartan quarterback Bobby Hoyer was 20-23 passing for 190 yards and a score. The Spartans' 52 points on the night was their biggest offensive output since a 55-18 season-opening win over UAB. It also marked the most points the Hoosier defense had surrendered since their 63-26 loss at Minnesota last year.

"They executed, and their offensive line and their backs are really good<' said Lynch before more succinctly stating, "We ran into a buzzsaw tonight."

Indiana tried to fight back late in the game as Hardy's long touchdown reception was quickly followed by a 76-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Tracy Porter, the second longest in school history. That cut the Spartan lead to 27-45, but with just a quarter of football left to play it was clearly too little to late for IU. Another defensive score, Spartan defensive end Tim Baldwin's 12-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the third quarter, had already put the game away for Michigan State. If that score didn't, then the Spartans 15-play fourth quarter drive culminating in a three-yard touchdown run by Caulcrick surely did. That score gave the game its final margin and capped a milestone offensive performance for Michigan State.

"It was one of those games where I got to sit here and give them the credit," said Lynch. "We didn't play very well and we will get back and look at it, but I still think we are a good football team. But the way they played tonight they would be tough to beat by anybody."

The Hoosiers will now try and regroup for their own homecoming game next week in Bloomington against Penn State. Kickoff is set for noon as the Hoosiers look to accomplish what they couldn't in East Lansing on this night…bowl eligibility. Top Stories