This Saturday, the Michigan State Spartans football team will leave the state for the first time this season, as they travel to Bloomington, Indiana to take on the Hoosiers.
The Spartans (3-2, 0-1) will be hoping to get their season back on track against the Hoosiers (2-2,0-1), after falling at the hands of the Ohio State Buckeyes in their B1G opener, 16-17.
This game will mark the 59th meeting all-time between the two programs, with Michigan State leading the all-time series 41-15-2.
Last years’ contest between the two teams quickly turned into a one-sided affair, with Michigan State crushing Indiana 55-3 in East Lansing on Senior Day.
In that game, Michigan State used a very experienced passing attack with senior quarterback Kirk Cousins, and senior receivers BJ Cunningham, and Keshawn Martin all contributing big in their final game at Spartan Stadium.
This year, however, the Michigan State pass attack is much less experienced and the Spartans are still waiting for a receiver to step up and stand out from the rest. So far, the lone bright spot among pass catchers appears to be tight end Dion Sims, while other receivers have been very inconsistent and have dropped many passes.
Although sophomore wide receiver Keith Mumphrey did make an impressive play last week when he caught a pass and then proceeded to break several tackles on his way to his first career touchdown, the Spartans are going to need more of that to help out first-year starting quarterback Andrew Maxwell.
With the lack of players making plays in the receiving corps, when watching Maxwell in the pocket, he seems very hesitant to go down field and has often resorted to checking the ball down to Sims and Le’veon Bell for short yard gains.
As a result of this, the Michigan State offense has relied heavily on the running game, and by running game, I mean Le’veon Bell.
As this season has folded out, it has become clear that the Michigan State offense goes as Le’veon goes. In games that they’ve won, Bell is averaging 177.6 yards a game,and in games that they’ve lost, he’s averaging just 61 yards a game. .
This week, Michigan State’s opponent, Indiana comes into this game having lost back to back games to Ball State and Northwestern after opening up the season with wins against cupcakes, Indiana State and Massachusetts.
The main question for Indiana this season has been who will take over the job as the starting quarterback after the athletic Tre Roberson went down week 2 against Massachusetts with a broken leg.
Since then, both sophomore Cameron Coffman and freshman Nate Sudfeld have shared time under center, splitting series in parts of the past couple of games. So far neither quarterback has been able to separate himself from the other as Coffman has started both games and Sudfeld has finished them. This has left Indiana Coach Kevin Wilson with the obligation of welcoming a competition between the two.
Nevertheless, the Spartans will be favored in the game against Indiana this week. They have won 11 of the last 13 meetings against the Hoosiers and Indiana just isn’t there as a program, especially with their questions at the quarterback position this year.
In any case though, this Saturday, Michigan State will be looking to keep the trophy the schools have been playing for since 1950, the Old Brass Spittoon, in East Lansing for another year.