Indiana will now enter the remainder of the season playing conference opponents and will start out against a No. 25 Michigan State team led by Mark Dantonio, who is now the head coach with the most wins in Michigan State history. Michigan State and Indiana will be a matchup that will determine the trajectory of two teams that have a currently unknown ceiling. This is the first trophy game of the season with the Old Brass Spittoon on the line.

Indiana regained its footing this past week after a convincing 38-3 win over the UConn Huskies, but it came at a large cost. OL Coy Cronk, one of the leaders of the team suffered a season ending injury and we are still awaiting the return of starting QB Michael Penix Jr. who is slated as a game time decision currently.

How to Watch: Indiana Hoosiers versus the Michigan State Spartans

WhoWeek 5: Indiana Hoosiers versus Michigan State Spartans
When3:30 PM ET / Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019
WhereSpartan Stadium – East Lansing, Mich.
TicketsFind the Lowest Ticket Prices on SeatGeek
WatchBig Ten Network
StatsLive Stats
ListenIU Radio Network
SpreadMSU -14.5, O/U 44.5

You can find the latest 2019 Indiana Football schedule (printable) here.

Meet the Michigan State Spartans

Michigan State is an FBS team that plays in the Big Ten East alongside Indiana. They enter the matchup with Indiana at (3-1, 1-0) on the season after a resounding win in Evanston, IL 31-10. Their sole loss came to a Herm Edwards-led Arizona State team that surprised the Spartans in East Lansing, 10-7.

The team is led by 3 time Big Ten champion and 2 time Big Ten Coach of the Year Mark Dantonio who secured his 110th win to become the winningest head coach in Spartan history last week. He is in his 13th year as head coach for the Spartans and boasts an overall 128-69 record as coach.

Coach Dantonio is one of the guys I have a tremendous amount of respect for in this profession in the way he runs his program and how his kids play

Tom Allen

The Spartans have averaged 29.3 points per game on 406.5 yards per game. Michigan State has been a team traditionally known for its steadfast defense and this season is no different as they have allowed around 10 points per game thus far this season. Michigan State will be a team that relies on defensive stops and turnovers such as last week against Northwestern where they were +2 in turnovers and held the Wildcats to 1-4 on fourth down.

Get to Know the Michigan State Spartans

Key Offensive Players

The Spartans are boasting a 3-1 record due to their senior QB Brian Lewerke. He has been having an impressive season with a 7:1 TD:INT ratio and already surpassing 1000 yards after 4 games. He is comfortable in the pocket and not afraid to dish out the deep ball to his receiver corps. A lot of his productivity can be related to the well-rounded nature of the Michigan State offensive attack with a solid RB and WR mix.

To every star QB, there has to be a receiver or two ready to make big plays. WR Darrell Stewart Jr. and WR Cody White have been those targets for the Spartans. Stewart has caught 30 passes and added 439 yards along with a TD to lead the team. White was one of the key focal points to the 2018 offense and when he was injured the Spartans struggled to maintain a reliable passing target. This season, he already has nearly 200 yards with 2 TDs

The ground work has been accomplished by an impressive start to the season behind RB Elijah Collins with 357 yards, 2 TDs on 5.9 yards per carry. Collins has shown incredible speed and strength and will be a force the Spartans will rely on against a Hoosier defense that at times has difficulties with tackling.

Key Defensive Players

Michigan State will always be known for its impressive defensive stopping power and there is no one better on the team than Senior DE Kenny Willekes. He has been a disruptive force that can make his way to the QB and backfield every play to create chaos for the opponent. He was out for half of the Redbox Bowl last year, and the defense showed obvious difficulties in his absence. Having him back has led to 22 total tackles and a team-leading 4 sacks for 15 yards loss, 10 QB hurries, and 2 FR.

Joe Bachie is another LB that has become increasingly difficult to contain for the Spartans. He leads the team with 39 total tackles and last week had 13 solo tackles himself against the Wildcats along with an interception. He also won B1G defensive player of the week last week.

…Bachie is one of the best in the country…

Tom Allen

Other than linebackers, Michigan State has a deep, strong CB core. CB Josiah Scott has been leading the team’s CBs and is arguably one of the best in the country as he was named a Freshman All-American in the 2018 season. He has been improving immensely as the season has progressed. He has 14 solo tackles and an interception so far this season to add to the strong defensive unit of the Spartans.

Week 5: What to watch for against the Spartans

1. First road test by the Hoosiers

Apart from the “away” game against Ball State, Indiana has yet to have a road game this season. The Hoosiers have not performed well on the road over the last several seasons and often see themselves tested and many times not performing up to standards against teams that they should be winning against. Much like basketball season, the Big Ten standings and bowl game implications can be decided upon who steals a few away victories.

Michigan State is not their easiest road game, but at this point, it can be one the Hoosiers steal from the Spartans and it will tell us a lot how the Hoosiers are faring against teams other than the top of the Big Ten.

2. The return of Michael Penix Jr.?

Penix is slated as a game time decision this weekend and was listed as being able to play last week if needed in emergency situations. Apart from any major setbacks, these are all great signs that the redshirt freshman will be suiting up and leading the team against the Spartans this weekend. He is expected to partake in practice and get reps in this week per Tom Allen.

If Penix is not playing, Ramsey may be one of the best (if not the best) backup QBs in the Big Ten. Ramsey is 0-2 against the Spartans with 430 passing yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs. His QBR has been low (around 30 QBR) each of these matches as well. Despite not faring well against the Spartans, the Hoosiers have kept the games competitive and close with Ramsey behind center.

3. The offensive line with a “Cronk-sized” gap

Senior leader Coy Cronk has been confirmed to be out for the season which is a huge blow to the Hoosier offensive line. The leadership and ability Cronk had for the team will be a big loss, and the Hoosiers were reliant on Caleb Jones (the starting sophomore right tackle) to move to Cronk’s position and DeVondre Love to play both sides of the ball. Matthew Bedford was called up from redshirt status to play in the later part of the UConn game as well in Cronk’s absence.

Allen stated that Matthew Bedford will not take a redshirt this season if Cronk’s injury was deemed to be season ending. We will likely see Bedford on the line this weekend and it will be a true test for the freshman. Aidan Rafferty will also likely see some playing time and not end up redshirting this season as well.

4. Holding down against the Spartan rushing attack

Elijah Collins will be a tough player to stop for the Hoosiers. After having a lot of difficulty with JK Dobbins in the Ohio State game, the Hoosiers need to develop answers on the run defense this week to give the Hoosiers a fighting chance against the Spartans. Fortunately, Collins is not as highly rated as Dobbins.

Missed tackles were one of the biggest issues that the Hoosiers displayed against Ohio State and they appeared much more fundamentally sound against UConn. However, UConn is not on the same level as either Ohio State and Michigan State.

5. Applying pressure to Michigan State’s senior QB Brian Lewerke

If the Hoosiers are able to have an answer for Collins, it would put a lot more pressure on senior QB Brian Lewerke. Indiana has not been great at putting pressure on opposing QBs as they only have 9 sacks as a team and 10 QB hurries. If Raekwon Jones can get in a groove and find a way to put solid pressure on Lewerke or forcing him into 3rd down and long situations, the Hoosiers will be able to get the Spartans much more off balance and forcing them into bad decisions.

There was a concern with Raekwon going down over the last game, but there is currently no concern about his health per Tom Allen in the latest press conference.

Week 5: Indiana Hoosiers versus Michigan State Spartans Predictions

27-17 MSU. This is a close one throughout until the Spartans pull away in the 4th quarter. Indiana is not able to run the ball against a talented Spartan defense and has to rely on the passing game. The Hoosiers play well but are not able to finish against a tough opponent once again.

Andrew Rude

27-24 Indiana. Big game time for the Hoosiers. The Hoosiers have an uphill battle to make an impression in East Lansing. As the first road test, Indiana comes out hitting on all cylinders with the potential return of Michael Penix, and Indiana’s offensive attack overpowers the Spartans. Defensively the Hoosiers still have concerns as they are unable to hold the down the Green and White rushing attack, but they manage to hold on to the end.

Rob Jiang

21-17 MSU. Indiana likely gets back Penix but doesn’t get the win over a tough MSU defense and being on the road. The game will be decided in the IU defense vs MSU offense to see which unit steps up and exceeds expectations. Plenty to be excited for with the way the Hoosiers respond to a tough road challenge leaves everyone hopeful for a 6+ win season.

Dakota Thompson

30-27 MSU. If Michael Penix starts and plays the whole game for IU, both teams could put up more points than expected in this one. IU’s defense has shown some vulnerabilities, especially tackling, while MSU has yet to face a WR group like the one Indiana has. The Spartans get a late winning field goal from Matt Coghlin to push IU down to 3-2.

Nithin Krishnan

Featured Photo: Michigan State Athletics

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