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MSU football hopes to get back on track versus Indiana, finish season strong

November 14, 2023

Michigan State football has lost seven of their last eight games, bringing their overall record to 3-7 and their Big Ten record to 1-6. 

For the second consecutive year, the Spartans will not be bowl eligible. This is the first time that MSU will miss back-to-back bowl games in well over a decade, as they missed three consecutive bowl games in the years of 2004, 2005 and 2006. 

Last week, MSU fell to the hands of the Ohio State Buckeyes, who were the No. 1 ranked team in the nation. OSU went up 35-3 at halftime before calling off the dogs, resulting in a 38-3 MSU loss.

Houser had one of his worst games of the season, passing for 50% and only 92 yards. Nathan Carter showed some strength, rushing for 52 yards on 4.7 yards per carry. But he couldn’t find the endzone in a game that ended the hopes of a bowl appearance. 

Though, with seemingly nothing more to play for, interim head coach Harlon Barnett makes it a point to finish the season the way that they intend. He urges the MSU squad to get back on track, put the past behind them and dominate. 

“Once you start something, you have to finish,” Barnett said in a press conference Monday. “And so that's where we are right now. We need to finish, regardless of what has happened or what's going to happen in the future. We can control what we can control and that's finishing this season.” 

The Spartans will travel to Bloomington to fight for the Old Brass Spittoon against the 3-7 Indiana Hoosiers this week, hoping to encapsulate Barnett's message and finish the season off strong. The game against the Hoosiers, who are in a similar situation to MSU record-wise, will determine who is crowned last place in the Big Ten East. 

Though, as of late, Indiana doesn’t look like a 3-7 team, as they’ve played competitively throughout the better half of the season. The Hoosiers have put up points against top defenses like Penn State's, beat a young and respectable Wisconsin team, and put up 45 points in an overtime loss versus Illinois. 

Barnett acknowledged the Hoosiers' play, giving props to what Indiana’s head coach Tom Allen and his squad have done this year. 

“Tom Allen's team plays hard," Barnett said. "They just want to keep playing and fighting until the very end. He preaches love, and his team follows it. And when they play, it shows up on film. So we're going down there expecting a tough ballgame.”

The Spartans have had historical success when it comes to playing Indiana. Though last year, the Hoosiers got the best of Sparty in a cold November double overtime classic. MSU led 31-14 late in the 3rd before Indiana climbed back and knotted things up, forcing double overtime and winning 39-31. 

During that 2022 game, former MSU kicker Ben Patton missed two late-game kicks, one of which was to end the game. This year, kicker Jonathan Kim is prepared for any element and any late game pressure.

“Over this past year I’ve learned a lot about myself and this game, like my ideal temperature and range,” Kim said Monday. “I’m confident in myself to hit any field goal in any situation, and the trust that the coaches have in me means a lot to me and is a big part of my success.” 

For the game this week, there seems to be an emphasis on the defense. Barnett looks to “formulate pressure” with MSU’s young defensive line, and hopes Jalen Thompson and Zion Young can make an impact like they did last week. Barnett also hopes Ken Tally can continue to get some more reps in at his new position for defensive tackle. 

This Indiana offense isn’t like Michigan's or Ohio State's, but it isn’t something that this MSU defense should take lightly. This offense averages about 21 points per game and 324 yards per game, with a balanced running/passing attack.

Like MSU, Indiana has had some quarterback troubles, flipping between two all season. However, it seems like they finally found their guy in Brendan Sorsby, who has 1,164 yards on the season with a 10/2 touchdown interception ratio. 

However, Indiana’s run defense has been their weak spot this year, with none of their running backs eclipsing over 300 yards. Though, Michigan State's running defense hasn’t been very strong either, as they’re 48th in the nation in rushing yards per game. But, this defense will get some help as defensive end Khris Bogle returns this week from injury.

In other injury news, Barnett said backup quarterback Noah Kim won’t be ready for this game and questions if he’ll even be back for the rest of the season. Wide receiver Tre Mosely is still fighting an injury and is questionable for this week. However, wide receiver Jaron Glover is set to return, giving Houser another option to throw to.   

This matchup will be played on Big Ten Network, with a kickoff time of noon on Saturday. This is the last time Michigan State travels out of state this year before they head to Ford Field to play a ranked Penn State team on Nov. 24. 

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