The Spartans quietly keep winning
The Indiana Hoosiers and Michigan State Spartans will meet up on Saturday in East Lansing for what could be a sneaky-good Big Ten East tilt. Mark Dantonio's Spartans have been on a roll since losing to Notre Dame last month, taking down Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota in consecutive weeks. They'll try to keep their winning streak alive this weekend against a feisty Indiana squad. The Hoosiers took Michigan to overtime last week and could pull off a win against the Spartans with a similar effort.
Indiana at Michigan State
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 21 at 3:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ABC
Spread: Michigan State -6.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Can Indiana slow down the Spartan rushing attack?
Indiana's inability to stop the run last weekend cost them the game against Michigan. The Hoosiers gave up 271 yards on the ground, including the 25-yard touchdown run on the first play of overtime that proved to be the game-winner. It's simple — Indiana must be better against the run if the Hoosiers are going to have any chance of pulling off the upset on the road. Spartans running back LJ Scott is coming off of a 194-yard, two-touchdown performance against Minnesota. If he is able to run wild like that this Saturday, it will be a long afternoon for IU.
2. Hoosier receivers vs. Michigan State secondary
Indiana has an underrated group of dangerous receivers who will challenge the Michigan State defense. Simmie Cobbs (above, right) is about as tough a matchup as there is in college football, and he'll be the top target for Indiana in the red zone. The Hoosiers go for around 250 yards per game through the air, while the Spartans allow a little more than 170 passing yards per outing. Spartans safety David Dowell could be the diffrence, especially against Indiana's vertical passing attack.
3. Hoosier hangover
Going the distance and coming up just short against an elite team like Michigan can suck the life out of you. We saw it happen to Iowa after its game with Penn State. The following week, the Hawkeyes looked downright sluggish against — you guessed it — Michigan State. Keep an eye on Indiana's energy level and body language out of the gate. That's going to tell the story, especially if Spartans quarterback Brian Lewerke is giving the Hoosiers fits through the air and on the ground early.
The Spartans just seem to have the formula to win these game this year. They'd love to have another crack at Notre Dame and probably feel like they should be an unbeaten, top-10 team right now. A savvy, dynamic quarterback, a solid rushing attack and a stout defense will always be a recipe for success in the Big Ten. The Spartans have all three, and that will be enough to endure and overcome anything the Hoosiers throw at them — both literally and figuratively.
Prediction: Michigan State 34, Indiana 24
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo!, Bleacher Report and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.