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Preview: MSU Football looks to get back in win column on the road as they travel to face Indiana

November 15, 2023
<p>Junior long snapper Hank Pepper (31) about to snap the ball during practice before the game against Maryland at Spartan Stadium on Sept. 23, 2023. The Spartans ultimately lost to the Terrapins 31-9.</p>

Junior long snapper Hank Pepper (31) about to snap the ball during practice before the game against Maryland at Spartan Stadium on Sept. 23, 2023. The Spartans ultimately lost to the Terrapins 31-9.

The Michigan State Football team will be on the road for the second consecutive week as they travel to face Indiana on Saturday. 

MSU showed little-to-no fight in their last contest against No. 3 ranked Ohio State, losing 38-3. With just two games left in the season and the Spartans already being eliminated from bowl game contention, they will look to play for the team's pride heading down the final stretch.

Indiana hasn't come across much success this season either, logging a 1-6 record in Big Ten conference play and 3-7 overall. 

The Hoosiers have had their fair share of blowout losses like Michigan State, including a 44-17 defeat to Maryland in week five and a 52-7 loss to No. 2 ranked Michigan two weeks later. Indiana's offense has heated up more as of late, however. 

A big part of the increased offensive production has been a result of a quarterback situation throughout the season. Early in the year for the Hoosiers, redshirt freshman quarterback Tayven Jackson saw extended action and posted a few solid performances.

Jackson threw for 236 yards with a completion percentage of 85.7 in a win over Indiana State back in September and posted a career-high 299 yards to go along with a touchdown in a loss to Louisville. 

Jackson began to struggle more often as the season went on and was ultimately benched, not seeing playing time since the Hoosiers faced Michigan. Redshirt freshman quarterback Brendan Sorsby has taken on the starting role since the change and has thrown for 1,164 yards and ten touchdowns with just two interceptions on the season.

Since the switch, Indiana has scored 97 points in their past four games.

If the Spartans want to limit Sorsby and Indiana’s offense, they'll need a big performance from the secondary. The Hoosiers are pass-heavy, with their leading rusher being sophomore running back Jaylin Lucas, with 265 yards on the year. With sophomore defensive back Dillon Tatum out for the year with an injury, MSU needs to emphasize containing wideouts on the other side of the ball.

Freshman defensive back Chance Rucker has come into his own for Michigan State and embraced the role of cornerback one in many games this year. He will be challenged once again, facing a mixture of Indiana's wideouts. 

Offensively for MSU, inconsistency has been noticeable through ten games. Redshirt freshman quarterback Katin Houser has played well since taking over the starting quarterback role in week seven but hasn't put together a breakout performance just yet. Houser's best game came in the Spartan's win over Nebraska, where he totaled a career-high 165 passing yards in a game with a touchdown on top.

With just 766 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions on the season for Houser, there has been an obvious problem for the offense, resulting in many stalled drives. 

Michigan State has explored its options for the position all year. Redshirt junior quarterback Noah Kim was the starter coming into the season but is now likely out for the year due to injury. Freshman quarterback Sam Leavitt received increased playing time in four games this season as the backup but will likely sit out for the remainder of the year to preserve his redshirt eligibility.

It will likely be Houser's offense to finish the season, and the Spartans will have to step it up in order to get a win against the Hoosiers. 

The hope comes from the defensive side of the ball for MSU, particularly on the line. The Spartans have produced ten sacks in the last three games, including a seven-sack performance from the entire defensive line in the win over Nebraska. Michigan State has brought more pressure as of late, giving the offense more breathing room to not let games get out of hand fast.

However, MSU has had multiple games this season where they have fallen behind early and could not bite back at the lead. Against Ohio State, the Spartans went down 35-3 at halftime and couldn't generate a sack.

Both teams have shown multiple versions of themselves throughout the season; the program that wins this game will likely have brought out the better and more prepared version. 

The Spartans have dominated the all-time series versus the Hoosiers, leading 50-17 and two ties dating back to 1922. Michigan State is 7-3 in the last ten, but Indiana got the best of the last meeting winning 39-31 on Nov. 19 of last season to eliminate MSU from bowl contention.

Kickoff for Saturday's contest is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. on Big Ten Network.

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