Battle in Bloomington
Spartans to take on Indiana in matchup of conference teams
Coming off the heels of a 17-16 loss to No. 12 Ohio State, the MSU football team (3-2 overall, 0-1 Big Ten) is prepared to attack the rest of the conference season as it travels to Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind., to take on the Indiana Hoosiers (2-2 overall, 0-1 Big Ten) at noon on Saturday.
Although their Big Ten opener didn’t go quite the way they’d hoped, the Spartans have remained optimistic about the upcoming season, adopting the mantra “all our goals are still in front of us.”
Junior running back Le’Veon Bell was especially encouraged by the offensive production in the second half against Ohio State, when the Spartans scored their only touchdown of the day and nearly mounted a late comeback.
“The second half of the Ohio State game really boosted us,” he said. “(It) gave us some confidence, maybe a little swagger — especially to the passing game.”
“I feel that’s going to help our offense a lot so guys can’t just stack the box to stop our running game.”
Junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell said he expects to see the Hoosiers bring pressure Saturday, especially from their secondary.
“(That) always causes some problems because that causes your back to get in protection as opposed to getting on a route,” he said. “I think the biggest thing for us is recognizing them, realizing what the play (is) or (if) the concept call is going to match up to that.”
The Spartans and Hoosiers will be battling for the Old Brass Spittoon, a trophy dating back to 1950. MSU holds the overall series edge over Indiana, 41-15-2, including last year’s 55-3 drubbing of the Hoosiers on MSU’s senior day.
This year, the game is being held the date of Indiana’s homecoming, for which MSU holds a 3-2-1 lead on the Hoosiers.
Defensively, senior linebacker Chris Norman said he expects Indiana to run an offense similar to that of Ohio State’s last week.
“They’ll try to get you out of position, open you up, spread, dink and dunk and everything like that,” he said. “Luckily, we got the chance to prepare for Ohio State, which set us up nicely to prepare for a team like Indiana.”
Although the Indiana football program has had subpar seasons as of late — going 3-22 in the conference during the past three years — head coach Mark Dantonio said he still expects a challenging matchup.
“I think the program right now at Indiana, it’s in transition phase,” he said. “I think they’re better than they were last year … They had a lot of young guys playing last year. Some of those young guys remained playing, some are not playing. So they improved their football team.”
But for Bell, the important thing is that the Spartans continue to improve as the season goes on.
“We’re just going to keep getting better, keep progressing,” he said.
“That’s the great thing about it. We’re going into week six now, (and the) second game of the Big Ten (is) coming up for us.”