Bloomington, Ind.- The Hoosiers will have a chance to reclaim the Old Brass Spittoon when they travel to East Lansing to battle the 25th-ranked Michigan State Spartans. Michigan State won last years meeting 56-21 in Bloomington, while the Hoosiers won the last match up in East Lansing, 37-28, in 2001. For More Information on the Old Brass Spittoon, Click HERE.
I think John L. Smith is one of the top coaches in the country, Indiana head coach Gerry DiNardo said. I started playing against Michigan State in 1971, and dont ever remember them not having talent. Im not surprised, but you have to remember they put 56 points up against us a year ago. You arent talking to a guy who didnt think they werent good last year the day we played them. 56 points is a lot of points. Its not like they came in here last year and werent any good. My reference point might be different then everybody else.
The Hoosiers are coming off a loss to Michigan, 31-17. The defense fourced four turnovers against the Wolverines. Fifth-year senior Duane Stone and sophomore Leonard Bryant each picked off passes in the first half to end Michigan drives. Fifth-year senior Joe Gonzalez had a fumble recovery as well as a team-leading nine tackles against Michigan. Junior safety Herana-Daze Jones blocked a Michigan punt and sophomore Buster Larkins returned it 37 yards for a touchdown.
I dont think we forget everything else, DiNardo said. I think not to make weekly progress is a mistake regardless of who you are playing. We will do things on offense that will hopefully attack their defense. Program wide, we obviously need to continue our improvement in the run game. I do believe we are running the ball better and we are defending the ball better. That didnt happen by accident, that happened by emphasis. You have to try to avoid emphasizing one thing and deteriorating another. Overall, I would say the two glaring things right now are our pass offense and our pass defense. Third and fifteen, we cant let them complete a first and ten. It is going to happen, but it shouldnt happen more than 15 percent of the time in college football.
The game is set for 11:00 a.m. and will be televised on ESPN-Plus. Don Fischer (play-by-play), Dan Thompson (analysis) and Joe Smith (pre-game, halftime and post-game) on the call on the IU Radio Network.
Michigan State leads the all-time series, 35-13-2 and owns a 20-5-1 record at home against the Hoosiers. The two teams first met in 1922.
The Old Brass Spittoon has been awarded to the winner of the Indiana-Michigan State football game since the trophys inception in 1950. The spittoon came from one of Michigans earliest trading posts and is widely believed to be more than 100 years old.
Three Indiana players hail from the state of Michigan. Defensive lineman Jodie Clemons calls Lansing home. Brandon Hatcher and Marlin Lynch both hail from Detroit. Clemons is the only one of the three Michigan players expected to see action.
The last three meetings between these two schools have seen a total of 211 points scored. Indiana scored an average of 29.6 points per game in those three contests, two of which Michigan State won, as MSU averaged 40.6 points. The Spartans scoring success goes back seven games to 1994. In those seven games, the Spartans have scored 256 points, an average of 36.5 points per game. Going back to 1987, the Spartans have scored at least 27 points in 14 of the last 16 meetings. MSU was shut out in both of the two games in which they did not score 27 or more points (1993, 1991).
On Michigan State:
Entering Saturdays contest with a 4-1 overall record are the Michigan State Spartans.
Under first-year head coach John L. Smith, Michigan States offense is balanced in terms of playcalling, but not in terms of production. The Spartans rank second in the Big Ten with an average of 240.8 passing yards on 33.8 attempts per game. In comparison, MSU is 10th in the Big Ten with 125.2 rushing yards per game on 36.6 attempts.
On the defensive side of the ball, Michigan State is spectacular against the run, ranking second nationally by allowing only 54.4 rushing yards per game. MSUs pass defense, however, has not been as stout, ranking last in the Big Ten and 105th nationally by allowing 279.0 passing yards per game.
Last Time Out for the Spartans
Michigan State showed it is for real by claiming a 20-10 win over No. 9 Iowa on the heels of a 22-16 win over Notre Dame two weeks ago. Senior linebacker Mike Labinjo was all over the field for the Spartans, registering four tackles (including three for loss), one sack, one interception and one pass breakup en route to earning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Quarterback Jeff Smoker hurt the Hawkeyes with efficiency in the short passing game, completing 28-of-44 passes for 218 yards and two touchdowns.
Who to Watch
After all his troubles last year, Smoker has emerged as one of the better stories in college football this year. The senior has not been spectacular, but has been very good in leading the Spartan offense.
Sophomore receiver Ajim Shabaj is Smokers favorite target, while sophomore running back Jaren Hayes leads the rushing attack with 77.6 yards per game. Return man DeAndra Cobb is a threat and is the only Big Ten player to return a kickoff for a touchdown this year.