Michigan State laid an egg in their 49-14 loss to Northwestern. Now the Spartans finds themselves right where the preseason predictions had them pegged - 7th place in the conference. Unless the Spartans turn it around quickly, they could be home for the holidays...again.
Spartans head coach John L. Smith addressed what the Hoosiers bring to the table in this contest that Michigan State very much needs to win.
``Now looking ahead to Indiana, again, a much improved football team. They're a ton better than they were a year ago. I think their scheme's better, their personnel's better, they're getting some play out of a quarterback (sophomore Blake Powers) that hadn't played and he's really doing a good job.
Their wideout (freshman James Hardy) is a big tall guy (6-foot-7, 215-pounds), a basketball player who's doing a good job for them, so we're going to have to line up and play well and we're going to have to play more 'right'. When asked what he meant by playing more "right", Smith said ```Right' means not making mistakes. We have to make fewer mistakes."
Senior linebacker James Pannozzo says the Hoosiers will come to the field with the same emotion against Michigan State that they brought to the table against Ohio State.
``We'll do what we do every week whether we win or lose, watch the film, see what we did well, see the mistakes, learn from them and move on. This game is in the books and now we need to look to Michigan State. We still have four games left, and we are just going to keep playing hard," he said.
Michigan State coach John L. Smith says he hopes that the Spartans can recapture the emotion that was missing last week against Northwestern.
`` If I knew (how to keep the team playing with emotion each week) I'd inject it with something and give it to them. I think its real hard to maintain that emotion over a period of time. Sometimes you can get there, sometimes you can play with it. But to maintain it....it's hard to maintain that emotional level."
The Spartans had a tough time when junior quarterback Drew Stanton struggled through one of his worst performances of his career.
``Drew could have played better and he understands that," said Smith of his star quarterback. ``He didn't have a bad day. There was a mistake or two, but understand he's had a lot of good days. Like I told him we need to put that one behind us and you have to look at it, he's only been basically in the offense, running it for a year, in games. So he's going to make a mistake or two. He can do a lot of things, which he has done."
Indiana sophomore quarterback Blake Powers said the Hoosiers will rebound. "We just have to get better if we want to be able to compete against teams like [Ohio State]. The only way to do that is to keep working hard everyday. We learned that we are just as good as anybody that we play, but we just have to perform on game day."
For Michigan State, they cannot afford to let Indiana find their game against them this Saturday. If the Spartans can right the ship they have a chance to play in a bowl game, likely one of the three, the Sun bowl, Music City bowl or the Motor City bowl.
This one's likely to be decided by who wants it most.