Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Preview: MSU football facing Indiana in final home game of the season

November 18, 2022
<p>Quarterback #10 Payton Thorne hands off the ball to #8 Jalen Berger during the matchup against Rutgers on Nov. 12, 2022. </p>

Quarterback #10 Payton Thorne hands off the ball to #8 Jalen Berger during the matchup against Rutgers on Nov. 12, 2022.

Photo by Olivia Hans | The State News

Michigan State football (5-5) takes on Indiana (3-7) in the battle for the Old Brass Spittoon from Spartan Stadium on Saturday. The game will also serve as the final home game and senior day for the Spartans.

MSU is currently on the hunt for a sixth win, which would clinch a bowl berth. Despite the team’s proximity to eligibility, Head Coach Mel Tucker and the Spartans are taking the “one game at a time” approach with all focus on the Hoosiers.

“Our goal is to play our best football in November and we want to finish strong,” Tucker said. "(We have a) strong opponent in Indiana, playing for the Brass Spittoon, so a chance to get back in the Woodshed one more time which is really important to us.”

Here’s how the two teams match up ahead of Saturday's game.

Michigan State

The Spartans have won three of their last four games including an upset over Illinois on the road. Most recently they took down Rutgers in a 27-21 victory in which Tucker said the team performed well in all three phases: offense, defense and special teams.

Over the span of their recent success, they’ve been able to unlock their full offensive potential. Tight ends and running backs have been getting in on the action recently, giving the offense more versatility and giving the team new ways to score.

Field goal kicking also showed great improvement in the win over Rutgers. Junior kicker Ben Patton knocked down two, including one from 48 yards out that proved to be essential in keeping the lead.

Defensively, the Spartans have been playing arguably the best they’ve played all season. After losing eight defensive players to suspensions following the post game incident in the tunnel at Michigan Stadium, the remaining players have stepped up.

Redshirt sophomore linebacker Cal Haladay was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week two weeks in a row after finishing with nine tackles against Illinois and 19 against Rutgers.

The Spartans are on the rise just in time as the season comes to a close. Not only are they pursuing a sixth win, they are also wishing to send off the graduating seniors properly in their final game at Spartan Stadium.

Indiana

The Hoosiers are currently on a seven-game losing streak, most recently suffering a 56-14 loss on the road against Ohio State.

After a hot 3-0 start, including an early win against Illinois, Indiana has struggled both at home and on the road to come away with any meaningful wins.

The Hoosiers are currently ranked 60th overall in the FBS in passing offense, averaging 237.2 yards per game. Redshirt junior quarterback Connor Bazelak averages 234.56 passing yards per game, slightly more than redshirt junior quarterback Payton Thorne who averages 215.2 passing yards per game.

However, his accuracy hasn’t been his strongest stat and injuries have forced a shuffle at the quarterback position. He and redshirt sophomore quarterback Dexter Williams II both took snaps last week against Ohio State, with Williams II getting the majority of the playing time.

On the defensive side, the Indiana rushing defense is ranked 100th in the FBS, allowing an average of 176.1 yards per game. For comparison, the Spartans are ranked 97th, allowing an average of 172.6 yards per game.

The Hoosiers are also ranked 115th in passing yards allowed, with 270.2 yards allowed per game. In comparison, MSU is ranked 106th, allowing an average of 257.4 yards per game.

The two teams match up similarly on paper, but MSU has had more success as of late. It will all come down to what happens on the field on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. from Spartan Stadium with viewing available on the Big Ten Network.

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