Scouting Report and Prediction: Michigan State (4-1 1-0) vs. Indiana Hoosiers (3-2 1-0)
A look at this week’s opponent…
The Hoosiers come in with all the confidence in the world. They just manhandled Penn State beating them by 20. It was a big win, the biggest for Coach Wilson at Indiana, and they are hungry.
When MSU has the ball…
Because of his relationship with Coach Stoops at Oklahoma (former OC), Coach Wilson has great respect for Dantonio. For those of you not aware, Dantonio and Stoops are close. Wilson knows that Dantonio demands his team run the ball. Like everyone else, and we saw it last year, they will load the box. Indiana will try to make this about Connor Cook and the MSU receivers. I have said it all week and will continue to trumpet it now; this is the first game all year that the MSU offense will have to win. The IU offense is too good for the MSU offense to stay home.
MSU will get to run, but only after they use the pass to set up the run. IU will load the box and Cook and his group of wideouts must play catch. They will have ample opportunity. Which group shows up? If it is the team that was in Iowa, they are fine. If it is the team against USF and WMU, they lose.
The MSU passing attack will decide the winner of this game. The end of game stats may not show it, because once IU adapts (if MSU has success in the air), the Spartans will move back to the run. Look for MSU to come out throwing once IU proves they can stop the run.
The MSU offense can’t fail at getting touchdowns once their D gives them the ball on a turnover. The points off of turnovers stats could be the most important of this game…for both teams.
IU consistently brought a safety into the box last year as the eighth man in the box. They will do so again.
When MSU is on defense…
Last year MSU ran a lot of 4-2-5 and delta (3 man front) and I expect significantly more delta this year. IU always makes an effort to run a play every 12-15 seconds to keep teams from substituting. In the delta MSU has guys more keen to that type of game.
They will do what they always do. They are going to stop the run and make IU beat them in the air. Do not be fooled. IU is a spread team, but that term spread only applies to putting players from sideline to sideline and literally “spreading” out the defense. That doesn’t mean ONLY a passing attack. They like to run the ball.
MSU wants this game defensively to be played in the air. NOT on the ground. Once IU goes to the air I expect them to make some catches. They will get some yards. The tempo and style they have dictates that. I know there are people who WORK in the Duffy that wish MSU ran this offense.
IU star RB Tevon Coleman was recruited heavily by MSU. He is a star. In fact, Coach Wilson has referred to him as being a star like Oklahoma/Dallas Cowboy RB Demarco Murray. The Spartans probably would have got Coleman in the recruiting battle, but he wanted to play RB and MSU wanted him as a DB. His success on the ground has proven he made a wise choice for himself as he seems a solid NFL bet.
The Spartans can’t get frustrated when IU has aerial success unlike others have this year. They will get chances at turnovers they must capitalize. IU is the best offense they have faced and could be the best they will face this year. How the Spartans handle IU success and if they capitalize on turnovers is big. Both in IF they get them (make those INT catches) and whether the offense converts when they hand the ball back.
MSU pressure has to get to the Hoosier QB. He has to get hit and feel it. Watch the rush. If he is throwing when he wants and not because of the MSU pressure, the Spartans are in trouble. IU would rather have five wideouts going against seven Spartans than have those extra defenders rushing. They trust their wideouts that much to run crisp routes and get open.
Remember the rule of five. If MSU wins that, this game is over. For those who don’t remember it, it has to do with sacks and turnovers. If the Spartans have three sacks and give up two that means they are plus one. If they then get four turnovers and give up only one that means they are plus three. That would give them a plus four for the day. They want to get to a plus five ratio at least every game.
I say that every game. Some of you complain every game, but it is real. MSU has had a great D this year, but they have missed on some key turnover opportunities. They will get them against IU. I know FOR A FACT that every dropped INT or missed INT the Spartans have on Saturday, IU will record internally as a turnover in their favor. That is how big it is on Saturday.
I have been an advocate for the MSU defense for a long time. This could be the most difficult test of the ENTIRE YEAR on Saturday. This is almost like facing an M Rod coached Michigan team; great offense, poor D.
I expect IU to have some success against the Spartans D. Not because MSU is bad, but because they don’t get the respect they should. They will connect on some throws. They will get down the field. This is the first game ALL YEAR that we can’t say the MSU offense simply needs to stay out of the way.
The Spartans offense has to go win a game. They have to score. They have to give the Spartans D a rest. They have to capitalize and score points. They have to get the pass going early to force IU out of a stacked box so they can run and eat the clock. Their D needs a break against that O.
A big stat for MSU is going to be three and outs…on both sides. They are always good defensively, but the MSU offense simply needs to hold the ball to let their teammates catch a breath.
Make it 31-27 and MSU gets the win. They survive against a very good offense and the MSU offense takes another step towards becoming what they need to be to make this year special.
Does Dantonio the riverboat gambler come out? Do we see an onside kick this week? Think about that.