5 things to watch: MSU vs. Indiana
Midway through the 2017 season, the Spartans sit at 5-1 and are undefeated in Big Ten play.
After two straight road games, the Spartans head back to East Lansing to take on the Indiana Hoosiers (3-3, 0-3 Big Ten) Saturday in MSU’s homecoming game.
Here’s five things to watch in Saturday’s contest:
Running back situation: LJ Scott finally broke through last weekend and revealed his true potential, posting a 194 career highs in rushing yards and 25 carries, however, the third-year player was arrested on Wednesday for driving without a valid license, leaving the running back situation with an immense question mark.
If Scott is unable to play Saturday, Madre London and Gerald Holmes will be in control of the rushing attack.
London recorded a season-high 74 yards rushing, and Holmes, who suffered an ankle injury against Michigan but came back late in the game, didn't see action last Saturday.
If Holmes and Scott both can't play Saturday, MSU will look to true freshman Connor Heyward to help split carries with London.
Heyward has not taken a carry yet this season but has hauled in two catches for one yard.
A chance at revenge: MSU lost in heartbreaking fashion to Indiana last year in overtime, snapping its seven-game winning streak over the Hoosiers.
The loss was the second of seven straight losses for the Spartans in 2016.
The Spartans will look to put that loss last season behind them and seek revenge on the Hoosiers.
If the Spartans pull off the win, MSU will become officially bowl eligible, and head coach Mark Dantonio’s will improve to 7-1 against the Hoosiers as head coach at MSU.
Ideal weather: After two straight weekends of rain, the forecast brings a glimpse of hope as there appears to be no chance of rain.
Throwing the football was hard for quarterback Brian Lewerke in both games, so the sophomore signal-caller will have a chance to turn around the passing game and test the Hoosiers’ pass defense, which ranks fourth in the Big Ten and 18th in the nation.
Return game: On Tuesday, Connor Heyward was listed on the depth chart as the team’s starting punt and kick returner for Saturday’s game.
The true freshman running back had three kickoff returns for 115 yards and one punt return for six yards last Saturday in his collegiate debut debut as a return man.
Heyward has yet to receive a carry this season but has two receptions for a yard through six games.
Turnovers: This week’s matchup will be a prime opportunity for the Spartans’ defense to collect turnovers.
The Hoosiers have committed 13 turnovers this season — seven interception and six fumbles — while their six opponents this season have a combined four turnovers.
Indiana enters the weekend with a minus-9 turnover margin, which places them tied with Kansas for 124th in the nation.
Through six games, the Spartans have lost eight fumbles and thrown three interceptions, while their opponents have also combined for a total of 11 turnovers.
Indiana’s constant turnovers gives MSU’s defense an ideal matchup for forcing turnovers. How they act upon those favorable statistics will show on Saturday.