Know Your Opponent: Michigan State Spartans

Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)

This Years Record: 7-0 (3-0 T-1st  in Big Ten East)
Head Coach: Mark Dantonio (9th Year)
Overall: 100-48 (.675) 12th year
At Michigan State 82-31 (48-19)
Bowl Appearances: 8
Last Years Record: 11-2 (7-1) (Won Cotton Bowl)
Bowl Appearances Since 2000: 10 Appearances (5-5 Record)
Mascot: Sparty
Colors: Green and White
Outfitter: Nike
National Titles: 6
Conference Titles: 10
Heisman Winners: 0
Fun Fact:
They decided on the "Spartans", which had been suggested by Stephen G. Scofes and his two brothers Pete and Nick, all natives of Sparta, Greece. The three brothers met with MSU officials at their Lansing restaurant, The Coffee Cup then renamed the Famous Grill, when they told them the story of the Spartan war at Thermopylae, Greece in 480 B.C., where 300 Spartan warriors held back thousand of Persian warriors led by Persia King, Xerxes. Today the Scofes family still honors the Michigan State men's Basketball and Football teams with trophies awarded to MSU players and faculty, since the banquets began in the Scofes families Coffee Cup and Famous Grill restaurants.

1. This Isn’t Your Typical Michigan State Team

When college football fans think of Michigan State football, they usually think about a power running game and a great defense. This year’s version of the Spartans is no slouch on defense giving up 21.6 points and 351.9 yards per game. They have also forced 12 turnovers and have sacked the quarterback a monstrous 24 times.
The run game, on the other hand, does not feature a bell cow like Spartan teams of the past. There is no Javon Ringer or La’veon Bell touting the rock 40 times a game anymore. MSU is led in rushing by freshman L.J. Scott who leads the team with 434 yards and eight touchdowns on 78 carries. As a team Michigan State averages just 156.9 yards per game on the ground. That would be an issue except the Spartans have this guy named Connor Cook who has thrown for over 1,600 yards 13 touchdowns and only two interceptions.

2. Spittoon Domination

Michigan State and Indiana have met on the gridiron 61 times since 1922. Since 1950 they have played for a quirky, maybe even gross, trophy The Old Brass Spittoon. Since starting 3-0-1 against the Spartans, the Hoosiers have only won 12 games and have lost 10 of the last 12 meetings.

3. Aaron Burbridge is The Go-To Receiver

The senior wide out is by far the best Spartan pass catcher and easily Connor Cook’s favorite target. Burbridge has 44 catches, more than twice that of the number two WR R.J. Shelton (21), 702 yards ad four touchdowns. At 6-foot-1 he will present a match-up issue for Indiana’s smaller corners. It will be interesting to see if they stick Rashard Fant on him all game or double-team him if he is torching the defense.

4. The Spartans Special Teams Aren’t What It Used to Be

Since Mark Dantonio arrived in East Lansing in 2007, fans could count on the Spartans being sound on special teams. In 2015 they can be describe as inconsistent, if not down right bad. Field goal kicker Michael Geiger has missed four of his nine field goal attempts, two of them being blocked. The Spartans as a team have 5 punt return yards all season, and their kick returners haven’t been much better averaging just 20.8 yards on 13 returns. This is an area where Indiana can take advantage and make up some points and yards in the field position battle.

5. Shalique Calhoun and Riley Bullough are Still Monsters on Defense

It seems like these two are always a menace on defense and just will not graduate. Calhoun leads the team with seven sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss, and 11 quarterback hurries. He is an absolute beast and could make it a long day for IU quarterback Nate Sudfeld if the line cannot contain Calhoun.
Bullough is a force at linebacker and is second on the team with 3.5 sacks and five tackles for loss. He has also forced two fumbles, so Hoosier ball carriers must protect the ball when Bullough is bearing down on them.