East Lansing, MI - No. 25 Michigan State used a career -best performance from senior quarterback Jeff Smoker to defeat Indiana, 31-3 Saturday afternoon in front of 72,398 fans at Spartan Stadium. MSU improves to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the Big Ten Conference, while IU is now 1-5, 0-2.
After forcing Indiana to punt on the Hoosiers' first offensive possession, Michigan State drove 60 yards in just eight plays, capped by a 12-yard touchdown pass from Smoker to Jason Randall. Dave Rayner's extra point gave Michigan State a 7-0 lead.
Smoker personified the Spartans' offensive efficiency, as he completed 32 of 40 passes for 351 yards and two touchdowns on the afternoon.
The Hoosier offense gained some momentum on the ensuing series, converting three third down plays en route to Spartan territory. However, Michigan State proved why it leads the Big Ten in quarterback sacks, dropping IU signal caller Matt LoVecchio for a combined loss of 10 yards on consecutive plays and forcing Indiana to punt. The back-to-back sacks marked two of the six sacks that MSU had on the afternoon.
Smoker and the MSU offense struck again at the start of the second quarter, taking just over two minutes to go 66 yards in five plays, closed by a 31-yard touchdown pass from Smoker to Jaren Hayes. Rayner's extra point gave the Spartans a 14-0 advantage with 13:42 left in the first half.
Once again, Indiana answered Michigan State's touchdown with a sustained drive of its own. Starting at their own 25-yard line, the Hoosiers drove down to the Michigan State two-yard line. LoVecchio and freshman running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis led the Indiana attack. LoVecchio was 3-of-5 for 43 yards on the drive, while Green-Ellis picked up 22 yards on six carries and caught one pass for 20 yards. LoVecchio also showed his mobility when he picked up two yards and a first down on third-and-one from the Spartan 25, and his six-yard rush on third-and-goal from the Michigan State eight-yard line paved the way for Bryan Robertson's 21-yard field goal to put the Hoosiers on the board with 7:52 left until intermission.
Robertson has now made 15 of his last 18 field goal attempts, dating back to the 2002 campaign.
Indiana started the third quarter on a strong note, as the Spartans' DeAndra Cobb bobbled Troy Grosfield's second half kickoff and managed to return it to the Michigan State 11-yard line. MSU was also penalized five yards for an illegal block, forcing them to start six yards from their own end zone.
Smoker quickly moved the Spartans downfield, completing six of seven passes for 67 yards. However, Indiana safety Herana-Daze Jones came up with a big defensive play on third-and-seven from the Hoosiers' 25-yard line, dropping Smoker for a seven-yard loss and forcing Michigan State to settle for Rayner's 49-yard field goal with 11:32 remaining.
Michigan State closed the scoring with two more touchdowns - Jason Teague had an 11-yard touchdown run with 4:04 left in the third quarter, and Smoker added a two-yard scoring plunge with 8:49 remaining.
Despite the loss, there were some bright spots for Indiana. Behind a young offensive line, the Hoosiers gained 117 rushing yards against a stubborn Spartan defense ranked second in the Big Ten and nation in yards allowed per game (54.4). Green-Ellis gained 90 yards in 24 carries, marking the second time in the last four games that he has rushed for at least 90 yards. With Courtney Roby and Travis Haney slowed by injuries, senior wide receiver Glen Johnson finished with a season-high six catches for 70 yards.
IU returns home Oct. 11 to entertain Northwestern for Homecoming. Kickoff is set for 11:10 a.m. at Memorial Stadium, and the game will be televised by ESPN Plus Regional.