PREVIEW: Michigan State vs. Purdue

The Spartans faced the best receiver in the Big Ten last week in Indiana's James Hardy, and allowed him to grab eight balls for 77 yards and two touchdowns. Now if that doesn't encourage Purdue to throw the ball more, nothing does.

What: Michigan State (5-3, 2-3 Big Ten) at Purdue (2-6, 0-5 Big Ten)
Where: Ross-Ade Stadium (62,500), West Lafayette, Indiana
Last Meeting: Purdue 45- MSU 42 (Nov. 16, 2003)
All-Time: MSU leads 28-26-3 (Purdue has won two straight)
In West Lafayette: MSU leads 17-11
Injuries: MICHIGAN STATE- WR Kyle Brown-should be back, OT Stefon Wheeler-questionable PURDUE- WR Kyle Ingraham- probable (ankle), LB Dan Bick-will play (shoulder)

East Lansing: Coach John L. Smith knows how much a bowl game means to his senior players and Saturday's game is just another step towards that goal, putting the Spartans into bowl eligibility with a victory over the Boilermakers.

"We have to practice and play with a purpose this week. The most important thing in this program are the seniors. We can accomplish a goal this weekend and that's what we're playing for," said Smith.

Although Joe Tiller's Boilermakers are out of bowl contention, he also mentioned his seniors in his press conference hoping that, "Instead of being remembered as the senior class that the streak ended on, be remembered as the senior class that starts the next one."

This will be the first time in Tiller's nine seasons at Purdue that they haven't attended a bowl game.

Tiller does have good personnel that John L. Smith is aware of, but they do have a problem at quarterback. This sets up the first matchup of the game:

Purdue Quarterback(s) vs. Spartan Defense: Chris Painter took over for Brandon Kirsch two weeks ago at Wisconsin but since that time the two have been platooning. Kirsch replaced Painter last week at halftime against Penn State. Both players scored rushing touchdowns last week, the only two touchdowns for the team in the game.

The confusion at quarterback shouldn't affect the Spartan defense much. They need to continue to apply pressure just like they did to Indiana's Blake Powers. Although they will give up some plays, if they are able to overall contain Purdue's attack, the Spartan offense should be able to keep the ball away from the Boiler's offense.

Purdue Running Back(s) vs. Spartan secondary: Majority of the Boilermakers' scoring offense comes from their running back duo of Jerod Void and Kory Sheets. Combining for 833 yards and 12 touchdowns, Purdue likes to hand them the ball when in the Red Zone. As a team, Purdue is third worst in the Big Ten in rushing yardage but do impress with their touchdowns on the ground.

The Spartans always try to stop the run first and they have had great success doing so, ranking third in the Big Ten in rushing defense. They allow 134 yards per game and have allowed just six rushing touchdowns on the season. It's the Spartans pass defense that is struggling.

Purdue WR Dorien Bryant vs. MSU Pass Defense: The Spartans faced the best receiver in the Big Ten last week in Indiana's James Hardy, and allowed him to grab eight balls for 77 yards and two touchdowns. Now if that doesn't encourage Purdue to throw the ball more, nothing does.

The Michigan State pass defense is one of the worst in the Big Ten and they will face receivers Dorien Bryant and 6-foot-9 Kyle Ingraham. Bryant has to be the standout player as he has 61 receptions on the season, nearly twice as many as Ingraham or any other receiver.

"They get him (Bryant) the ball a bunch. He can flat fly," said John L. Smith. "He's a major part of their game plan."

With Bryant being a key player in the pass offense, the Boilermakers will try to get mismatches on the taller Kyle Ingraham as a result of the attention that Bryant will be getting.

Pick: Like every team, Purdue has their weapons, but last week when Indiana's James Hardy caught two touchdown passes, they were the only touchdowns for the Hoosiers the entire game. So even if the pass defense of the Spartans is suspect, they can still contain Purdue to an extent where Drew Stanton and the offense will put points up as well. Michigan State should win this game and take that bigger step towards a bowl game: MSU 46- Purdue 17


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