Indiana Opens Big Ten Play Against Michigan State

    Go Hoosiers! Cornerback Richard Council and the Hoosiers open Big Ten play against Michigan State on Saturday.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Cornerback Richard Council and the Hoosiers open Big Ten play against Michigan State on Saturday.
    Go Hoosiers!

    Sept. 22, 2008

    Michigan State Weekly Release (9-27-08) Get Acrobat Reader

    BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Kicking off the 2008 Big Ten season, the Indiana football team welcomes Michigan State to Memorial Stadium (49,225) on Saturday, Sept. 27. Kickoff is set for noon EDT and the game will be televised by ESPN.

    The teams play for the Old Brass Spittoon, which has been awarded to the winner annually since 1950. MSU brings the Spittoon to Bloomington following last season's victory.

    Indiana enters the contest with a 2-1 record, owning victories over Western Kentucky and Murray State while falling to in-state rival Ball State last weekend.

    Scouting Michigan State
    After dropping its opener at California, 38-31, Michigan State has reeled off three consecutive victories over Eastern Michigan (42-10), Florida Atlantic (17-0) and Notre Dame (23-7) to enter Big Ten play with a 3-1 record.

    The Spartans are led by running back Javon Ringer, the reigning back-to-back-to-back Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week. Ringer is second in the country averaging 174.75 yards per game and leads the nation with 143 carries and 11 rushing touchdowns. The senior is averaging 4.9 yards per carry and has 30 more rushes than his next closest competitor. MSU averages 378.2 yards per game, 195.2 coming on the ground.

    Senior signal-caller Brian Hoyer averages 175.0 yards and has completed 45-of-101 passes for one score and a pair of interceptions. His top target, sophomore Mark Dell, has 400 yards on just 17 receptions (23.5 yards per reception).

    Michigan State has allowed 17 points in its last three games and has surrendered 323.0 yards each time out. The Spartans have picked off four passes and recovered three fumbles. Senior safety Otis Wiley owns all four interceptions to go along with six pass breakups and 20 tackles. Sophomore linebacker Greg Jones leads the Spartans with 26 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss.

    Head coach Mark Dantonio is in his second season at the helm of the MSU program. He owns a 10-7 mark and led the Spartans to the Champs Sports Bowl last season. Dantonio posted an 18-17 record in three years at Cincinnati prior to his arrival in East Lansing.

    The Michigan State Series
    Indiana and Michigan State play for the Old Brass Spittoon. The Spartans own the Spittoon after last season's 52-27 victory in East Lansing on Oct. 13. The Spartans lead the all-time series 39-15-2, carry a 39-12-1 record since the trophy's inception in 1950 and hold an 18-9-1 advantage in Bloomington.

    Michigan Connections
    Nine players on the IU roster hail from The Wolverine State. Freshman quarterback Adam Follett (Caledonia, Mich./Alma), redshirt freshman linebacker Darius Johnson (Highland Park/Highland Park), senior defensive lineman Isaac Price (Southfield), redshirt freshman linebacker Ian Reeves (Ferndale/Ferndale), freshman cornerback Cortez Smith, senior running back Marcus Thigpen (Detroit/Mumford), sophomore defensive lineman Terrance Thomas (Detroit/St. Martin De Porres), sophomore wide receiver Terrance Turner (Auburn Hills/West Bloomfield) and junior tight end Brian Zematis (Bloomfield) all came to Bloomington from the state of Michigan.

    Hoosier linebackers coach and co-special teams coordinator George Ricumstrict served as a Michigan State graduate assistant in 1996.

    Means To An End
    If you have watched junior wide receiver Andrew Means this season, you would never know he spent the summer playing professional baseball. Means is fourth in the Big Ten averaging 68.7 yards per game and tied for fifth with 4.67 receptions per game. The Avon Lake, Ohio, native went over 100 yards for the first time in his career with 103 yards on four receptions, including a career-long 47-yarder and a 44-yarder, against Ball State.

    Means was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 11th round of the 2008 MLB Draft and spent the summer playing in Billings, Mont., in the Pioneer League. In his rookie baseball campaign, Means played both in center field and at designated hitter, stealing six bases and scoring 16 runs for the Billings Mustangs. He saved his best game for a clutch situation, helping the Mustangs clinch the first-half title with a two-homer, seven-RBI performance.

    The first team All-Big Ten selection led the Hoosier baseball team to the Big Ten Tournament for the first time since 2003. Means topped the Big Ten and was third in the nation with eight triples, while his 72 runs were tops in the conference and placed him 31st nationally. He stole 33 bases in 39 attempts, the seventh-highest steal total in school history and the 17th-highest total in the nation. Means was fourth on the team with a .357 average.

    Polk Pocket
    Junior safety Nick Polk scooped up a fumble and raced it back 31 yards for a score against Ball State. It was the Hoosiers' first fumble returned for a TD since Tracy Porter scampered 71 yards against Michigan State on Oct. 13 last season. It was also IU's first defensive score since Christopher Phillips returned an interception 58 yards vs. Ball State on Nov. 3, 2007.

    Since moving to safety last year, Polk has two fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles and three interceptions.

    Running Wild
    Bill Lynch has preached to his team the importance of running the ball and it has received the message thus far. Indiana scored six touchdowns on the ground against Murray State, the first time the Hoosiers have run for six TDs or more since they ran for seven in a 63-32 victory over Wisconsin on Oct. 6, 2001.

    Five different Hoosiers scored on the ground in the game, the first time that has happened since Oct. 22, 1949 (Pittsburgh). Marcus Thigpen (twice), Bryan Payton, Demetrius McCray, Ben Chappell and Zach Davis-Walker each crossed the goal line. In 2007, only four Hoosiers reached the end zone all season. Indiana also divvied up its participation across the board, as eight different players recorded rushes.

    IU has rushed for 807 yards (269.0 per game) on 142 attempts (47.3 per game) this season, good for 5.7 yards per carry. Indiana's 269.0 average ranks second in the Big Ten and ninth nationally. The team's nine rushing scores are half the total of last season's 18. Indiana posted a 5-0 record in 2007 when rushing for over 200 yards and carrying the ball over 40 times, and it is 2-1 this season when reaching those benchmarks.




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