This Game could end up telling a lot about the middle tier of the Big Ten. Michigan State comes in with an undefeated Conference record, but none of its wins can be considered overly impressive. As for Indiana, it’s still looking for its first Conference win and all three of its losses came against ranked teams. That being the case, the Spartans still opened as a decent -7.5 point favorite at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
This spread is almost in the perfect spot for these teams. Indiana almost took down Michigan last week, and many say it should’ve won the gone, but fell in overtime. The Hoosiers easily won their non-Conference Games, with one of them coming against a Virginia team that hasn’t lost another Game. The Hoosiers remain a feisty team and should put up a fight in this one. MSU is kind of in the same boat, but just had an easier opening Schedule. Wins over Iowa and Minnesota were nice, but the Spartans were far from showing their dominance in those Games.
The best unit in this Game is the Michigan State defense, which is allowing less than 100 rushing yards and 170 passing yards per Game, one of the best overall rates in the country. Notre Dame scored 38 points off them, but a couple of those touchdowns were due to offensive turnovers. And the three touchdowns Minnesota scored in the Fourth quarter last week were mostly the result of the defense letting up.
Moving the ball will be difficult for Indiana’s offense. They’ll try and run the ball, but top running back Morgan Ellison hasn’t had much success in the last three contests, failing to rush for more than 68 yards in any of them. It’s hard to see him passing that total against MSU. That only means freshman quarterback Peyton Ramsey will have to continue chucking the ball, which he did against the Wolverines and completed just 20-of-41 passes for 178 yards. A bad Michigan offense led to a good portion of Indiana’s points last week.
So the one way Indiana can pull off an upset is if its defense creates more turnovers from Michigan State, which has been one of MSU’s bigger flaws early on. The reason why the Spartans lost to Notre Dame was because of turnovers and they lost a couple more against Minnesota last week. If the Hoosiers can win the turnover battle, they’ll be in this Game.
MSU quarterback Brian Lewerke has thrown for only 214 yards in the past two Games, but both have resulted in wins and both were played in poor conditions. The Indiana defense maybe isn’t good, but most of its struggles have been in rush defense so Lewerke may not be needed to pass for more yards yet again. LJ SCott finally broke out for the Spartans last week for 220 total yards, although lost another fumble. Once again, they’ll lean on SCott, Lewerke and the other backs to move the ball on Indiana, which is all Michigan needed last week. If Indiana can’t stop the run, it could be another close loss for the Hoosiers.
But with the spread near a touchdown, that’s still a decent spot for Indiana given that MSU hasn’t won any of its Big Ten Games by more than seven points. The Hoosiers are 4-1 ATS in their last five road Games vs. a team with a winning home record, while the Spartans are 6-1 ATS in their last seven home Games. The over has hit in eight of the last nine meetings between these teams, while Michigan State is 10-3 ATS in the last 13 meetings between these teams.
Our Pick – Indiana +6.5