What a difference a year can make for a program. Last season Michigan State came into the Indiana game at 1-2, coming off a 49-7 loss to Iowa while Indiana was 3-0 and on their way to a 6-2 season where many thought they were the second best Big Ten team last season behind Ohio State.
Using the success of last season, Indiana was ranked 17th to start the season but quickly exited the rankings after a 34-6 blow to then #18 Iowa. Michigan State came into the season as a relative unknown after a disappointing 2020 season, many thought that the Spartans would be near the bottom of the Big Ten again this season. The Spartans have been one of the most surprising teams in the country so far and currently sit at #10 in the latest AP poll.
Last season in front of no fans, the Spartans were shutout at home by the Hoosiers, 24-0 in a battle for the Old Brass Spittoon.
The Michigan State-Indiana rivalry has been a mostly one sided affair as the Spartans have a 48-17-2 record all-time against the Hoosiers including 48-14-2 in the battle for the Old Brass Spittoon and 14-4 since the year 2000.
Indiana's three losses have come to three teams currently in the AP Top Ten (Iowa #2, Cincinnati #3, Penn State #7). The Spartans will be the third top ten opponent for the Hoosiers at the time of the game this season.
Between offense and defense, Indiana has 17 of their 22 starters as seniors or graduate transfers this season. Indiana returned junior quarter back Michael Penix Jr. and senior wide receiver Ty Fryfogle both of which were All-Big Ten performers last season as well as bringing in Stephen Carr as a graduate transfer running back from USC. The Hoosiers also have ten of their eleven starters as seniors on defense with the lone junior being corner back Tiawan Mullen.
Indiana has failed to find any kind of consistency in 2021 scoring just six points while giving up 58 in their two Big Ten games against Iowa and Penn State. Michael Penix was one of the best quarterbacks a season ago and this season has already thrown seven interceptions with just four touchdowns in five games. The entire offense has been inconsistent so far against 'power five' schools this season.
Players to know
A year ago, Fryfogle went for 200 yards against the Spartans and has been one of the few moderate bright spots for the Hoosiers this season. Fryfogle is eighth in the Big Ten in receptions with 26 although he only has 272 yards and one touchdown this season he can still be a big playmaker for the Hoosiers.
Anderson returned for his senior season for the Hoosiers on the defensive line at defensive end. Anderson leads Indiana with three sacks this season. A lot of Indiana's struggles this season have been due to a lack of offense being able to stay on the field. Last season the Spartans were shutout by the Hoosiers and are playing against a veteran defense the Spartans have to hit them quick and often to take control of this game.
The teams are both heading in opposite directions than they were in a year ago, but this is no easy game. No Big Ten game is easy, the Spartans head into a bye-week after this week before a potential top ten showdown at home against Michigan the Spartans will need to remain focused to get there. The Spartans pull away in the second half of this one before all focus for the next two weeks goes onto the Wolverines.
Michigan State 34, Indiana 20