Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)
The Indiana Hoosiers play host to No. 16 Michigan State in a primetime battle on Saturday night. Some of the luster came off of the game when both teams fell last week, but it should still be a hotly contested affair for the Old Brass Spittoon. Let’s dive into some numbers that may come into play on Saturday night.
2006- Indiana and Michigan State have played 62 times prior to Saturday with the Spartans holding a 45-15-2 edge. Indiana has not held possession of the Old Brass Spittoon since 2006 when IU clobbered MSU 46-21 at Memorial Stadium. The Spartans have won the last seven in the series one shy of their longest winning streak against the Hoosiers
2012- Since Mark Dantonio has taken over the Michigan State program they have become a consistent power in the Big Ten. They have not lost back-to-back games during a season since 2012. Michigan State comes into Bloomington this week off a 30-6 trouncing to Wisconsin.
1- The amount of touchdowns scored by Indiana running backs this season. Tyler Natee scored his first rushing touchdown of his career last week against Wake Forest out of the Big Bacon package where he lined up at quarterback. The Hoosiers will need to change that number significantly in order to knock off quality Big Ten teams.
334- Indiana is tied for 13th nationally is passing yards per game with 334. Quarterback Richard Lagow has shown that he can sling the ball, but the previous game’s five interceptions just make fans realize how important establishing a rushing attack is.
2- Once again both teams will be dealing with potential injuries. Two important cogs to each team’s strengths could be unavailable Saturday. For Indiana the health of starting guard Dan Feeney and starting right tackle Dimitric Camiel are up in the air. Wilson did not give a clear update on their progress. Indiana will need both of them back if they want to score the upset. On the other side, Michigan State is dealing with injuries to two of their starting linebackers, Riley Bullough (day-to-day) and Jon Reschke (Out). These could be significant losses to both teams.
40% and 60%- Indiana has had issues in the red zone all season long. On their 10 trips inside the 20-yard line IU has scored just six times with only four touchdowns. Last week’s game turned on a pick in the end zone. In order to beat the Spartans the Hoosiers must stop leaving points on the field in these situations, even if that means taking three-points.
2- Special teams has been an area that has haunted the Hoosiers this season. IU has shot themselves in the foot in several ways including missing a short field goal, dropping a snap, having a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown and having a field goal blocked. The two blocked kicks are the most disturbing because of how they happened. It wasn’t an freak athlete jumping over the line, or a low kick. They were the result of poor communication that lead to a rusher coming unblocked through the line. Head coach Kevin Wilson has said a number of times that this needs to be cleaned up. Will this be the week IU puts together a complete special teams effort.