FORT WAYNE – Records: Hoosiers (3-2, 1-0 Big Ten); Spartans (4-1, 1-0)
When: Noon today
Where: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Mich.
Radio: 1250 AM; 102.7 FM
On the Web: To watch a video preview for the game, go to Eyeing IU at www.journalgazette.net
3 matchups to watch
IU run game vs. Michigan State run defense: The Spartans are the best defense in the country, and much of that has to do with their ability to stop the run. Michigan State gives up 1.97 yards per carry and 51.2 rushing yards per game, including a stifling performance against Iowa in the team’s Big Ten opener. The Spartans gave the Hawkeyes just 25 rushing yards. The Hoosiers don’t need to rely much on their running game, but they do need to keep the Michigan State defensive line off-balance with some run plays. Sophomore running back Tevin Coleman will need to play like he did in a 147 all-purpose yard performance against Penn State, and senior Stephen Houston has to be a downhill presence.
IU secondary vs. Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook: Spartans coach Mark Dantonio named Cook his No. 1 quarterback after the sophomore threw for a career-high 277 yards and two touchdowns against Iowa. He completed 25 of his career-high 44 pass attempts and was intercepted once by the Hawkeyes. Cook completed just 56 percent of his passes in the 26-14 win over Iowa, and the Hoosiers had success against Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg in IU’s 44-24 win in the Big Ten opener. If IU can close off the run game and force Cook to throw as much as he did against Iowa, the advantage goes to the Hoosiers.
IU vs. road atmosphere: The Hoosiers started the year with five straight home games and will get their first taste of a hostile environment. It’s a rivalry game, with the Old Brass Spittoon on the line. IU hasn’t won at Spartan Stadium since 2001, and you have to go back another decade to find the last time the Hoosiers started Big Ten play 2-0. With that much at stake and a chance to improve their bowl hopes, issues like crowd noise and communication problems can’t come into play.
Prediction: Michigan State 30, Indiana 27