Michigan State football: What we learned vs. Indiana, what to watch vs. Michigan

·2 min read

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Looking back at No. 7 Michigan State football’s 20-15 win at Indiana heading into the Spartans’ bye week.

Next up

Matchup: No. 7 Michigan State (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) vs. No. 6 Michigan (6-0, 3-0).

Kickoff: Time TBA, Oct. 30, Spartan Stadium, East Lansing.

TV/radio: TV TBD, WJR-AM (760).

Know the foe

The Wolverines had a bye this week and will host Northwestern at noon Saturday in Ann Arbor. The Spartans won last year’s meeting at Michigan Stadium, 27-24, as Mel Tucker joined his mentor Nick Saban as the only MSU coaches to beat U-M in their first rivalry game. It was also Tucker’s first victory with the Spartans. MSU has won nine of the last 13 meetings in the rivalry, though the Wolverines have captured three of the last five and own a 71-35-5 all-time edge.

Three things we learned

Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker reacts as he leaves the field following a game against Indiana, Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, in Bloomington, Ind. Michigan State won 20-15.
Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker reacts as he leaves the field following a game against Indiana, Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, in Bloomington, Ind. Michigan State won 20-15.

Resilient bunch: It appeared MSU might be heading for its first loss when Indiana took the lead at halftime. However, the Spartans made enough adjustments and plays after halftime to escape, getting a dominant fourth quarter defensively — allowing just 33 yards on 25 plays — and twice stopping the Hoosiers in the final minutes after Payton Thorne’s interception in the end zone while trying to put the game out of reach.

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Concerns on offense: Despite all the points MSU has produced this season, there remains issues with consistency in moving the ball. The Spartans were held to a season-low 241 yards, just 100 on the ground and 141 through the air. Thorne’s receivers were stifled while Kenneth Walker III fought for his 84 rushing yards on 23 carries, with the offensive line struggling to create creases for him. The performance joined second-half offense shutdowns against Youngstown State, Nebraska, Western Kentucky and Rutgers.

Secondary growing: Though Indiana used backup quarterback Jack Tuttle, MSU’s pass defense took a step forward by limiting the Hoosiers to 188 yards through the air and limiting standout receiver Ty Fryfogle to seven catches for just 65 yards. The trio of cornerbacks Ronald Williams, Chester Kimbrough and Marqui Lowery (who got hurt in the fourth quarter) are starting to emerge as difficult to throw against, while the middle play from safeties Xavier Henderson (eight tackles) and Angelo Grose (six tackles) remains strong. Add to that solid games from Darius Snow, who also got his first career interception, and Michael Dowell as they seamlessly are sharing the nickel back position and combined for 12 tackles while not allowing a pass longer than 22 yards.

Contact Chris Solari: csolari@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Read more on the Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State football: What we learned vs. Indiana

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