As the Michigan State program enters their Stadium this Saturday for their game against the Indiana Hoosiers, they will have a monumentally task ahead of them. It’s their 500th game in the Stadium, their homecoming game, and they have loss four in a row at home in the Big Ten.
This is a team that has a lot to play for – there will be members of the 1987 Rose Bowl team looking on, who in that Rose Bowl game played Indiana for the win, and State defiantly needs to break that 0-4 Big Ten home game streak.
But before they can do that, they have to get passed the up-tempo, no huddle, offensive attack of Indiana. Indiana is averaging 44.4 points per game, which includes an average of 535 yards of offense per game. If those numbers don’t scare you these should. When Michigan Sate played Indiana last year the first half went like this.
It only took 1 minute and 17 seconds for Indiana to score their first touchdown. Their next score came in a 60 yard drive that only took 2 minutes and 35 seconds leading to a field goal, and another drive of 80 yards that only lasted 2 minutes and 4 seconds that ended in a TD and sent Michigan State to the locker room at the half with a score of 17 – 0, Indiana.
Now Michigan State did rally back to win the game 31-27, but one can only wonder, if they find themselves in this predicament again, will they be able to rally back with an offense that has only really proved to be efficient in one game this season?
Although Indian has staggering offensive numbers, they do not have the defensive numbers to match. They are last in total defense in the Big Ten – including last in rushing and 8th in passing. If State’s N0. 1 defense in the nation can keep Indiana from making first downs, it could be a long day for Indiana’s defense.
To prepare for Indiana’s offense, in practice this week, State has been alternating two different scout offensive teams to run with the starting defense to simulate just how fast they plan Indiana will come after them.
Defensive line coach Ron Burton said, “Experience is the true teacher, and that experience is there.” He goes on to say, “We do a lot of evaluation in the off-season and during the season, and Indiana has used this fast pace pressure on everyone. We’ve got a good picture of what we’re going to get with the timing of the plays and the number of plays we’re going to see.”
Burton also adds, “this is a veteran team and we’ve been conditioning them, more mentally than physically, about just what this fast pace game is going to look and feel like.”
Last week in a 26-14 win over Iowa that included 25 catches for 277 yards, State’s offense showed the sparks that coaches and fans alike were waiting for this season.
Both Bennie Fowler and Macqarret Kings Jr. had standout games and look to back that performance up. Kings Jr. believes their teams confidence has enough power to ensure that there will not be a 5th home Big Ten loss.
Regardless, Michigan State is No.1 in the conference for ball possession, averaging 34 minutes. If they can keep that up, keep the defense on the field, then Indiana will sure have problems taking a win home with them this week.