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Game Preview: Michigan State Spartans

The Spartans are better in every conceivable fashion so WE'VE GOT NOTHING TO LOSE except for this football game on national television uh oh

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Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports


Who? Michigan State Spartans (5-1 (2-0), #14 Sagarin, #19 F/+) v. Indiana Hoosiers (3-3 (0-2), #66 Sagarin, #85 F/+)

Where / When? Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Indiana; 3:30 PM

TV / Radio? ESPN / WatchESPN, IU Radio Network (Sirius 146, XM 201)

Tickets? From $50 through Indiana's website, from $34.75 through StubHub.

Vegas? Indiana +15.5, 59 o/u


I don't feel very well.

Your symptoms are completely natural. When your starting quarterback is lost for the season, a season that was teetering on the brink of being with a bowl, yet again, it's hard to feel very good about anything. Just as Suds started to look in sync with this receivers and more willing to take chances with the ball and stretch defenses, his shoulder separates and his backup Chris Covington looked overwhelmed in his first taste of B1G action.

Now one of the better teams in the entire country is marching into Bloomington. And they're healthy.

It's setting up to be a massive blowout in favor of the visitors, or perhaps third-string, true freshman quarterback Zander Diamont is ready to become a legend. Maybe this will be his coming out party and he drops dimes on a stingy MSU defense left and right, leading the Hoosiers to victory.

Maybe he gets split in half.

Anything is possible, certainly some things more possible than others, but the best part about this game is how little we know about Diamont. We've read his recruiting profile, we've seen his high school highlights, but we haven't seen him take the field in a real game for the Indiana Hoosiers so, in essence, we know nothing about him. We do know that Sparty will likely give him the chance to make plays, as I can't imagine their defensive gameplan at the start will be anything other than "put everyone possible into the box to stop Tevin Coleman." They'll make the true freshman execute. Is he up for the task? We have less of an idea what the answer will be than usual.

Don't get me wrong, I'm nearly certain we will get throttled. But I'm excited to watch this kid throw the ball around the yard, he's supposed to be pretty good at it.

Got some numbers?

Sure. But we'll focus mostly on Michigan State's, as Indiana's numbers reflect what they've done so far with Nate Sudfeld at the helm, so, obviously, those numbers will be even less indicative of anything to expect on Saturday.

Efficiency (25%) Explosion (35%) Field Position (15%) Drive-Finishing (15%) Turnovers (10%)
Indiana N/A N/A 33rd 82nd 13.1% (28th)
Michigan State N/A N/A 17th 25th 12.5% (24th)

I won't complain too much about Football Outsiders decision to take away the isolated factors of Success Rate and IsoPPP because they're providing the statistics for free, but now I don't have anywhere to acquire that info from. Their new table combines the two stats (adjusted for opponent) into Play Rating, which is a better one-shot metric but for purposes of the table, it would be nice to have the individual numbers as well. Alas, here is their rankings for Play Rating:

Michigan State: 15th

Indiana: 52nd

This is probably going to get very ugly for the Hoosiers, gone is the Michigan State of last year, who struggled to find the end zone. This team can score and they can score a lot. Sadly, that did not come at the expense of their elite defense, as they are 10th in the country in defensive Play Rating (the Hoosiers are now 92nd after letting Iowa score multiple long touchdowns.)

A vastly improved Connor Cook and senior Tony Lippett have given the Spartan passing game some potency, while Javon Ringer Le'Veon Bell Jeremy Langford continues to be a consistent threat to kill you slowly in the backfield.

I usually feel better after the numbers section

I looked really hard for one thing that could go our way, and I just couldn't find anything. We can probably beat them in baseball, though!

Is there any possible way we can win?

Like Kyle Robbins pointed out in his column about the impending rise of Zander Diamont: Michigan State's defense got sliced up pretty bad by the continually offensively challenged Purdue Boilermakers, and they don't have anyone close to Tevin Coleman's ability on their roster. It's predictable, but you have to center the gameplan around getting Coleman the ball in space. The box is going to be clogged (unless Zander stretches them out) and while that certainly doesn't mean they can stop him, it would behoove the coaching staff to use him as a receiver out of the backfield and plenty of action in the screen game. Make them try and tackle him when he's at full speed, because that's an incredibly difficult thing to do. I don't think I could do it.

If there is one tried and true axiom of football as a sport: whacky things start happening when backup quarterbacks start games. I don't know if it's because there's no film on them, or everyone has a different mindset, or what. But I've watched enough football to know that a backup can come into a game with impossible odds and then it turns into some sort of bizarro circus of hilarity and heartbreak. Maybe they cobble together one of the more improbable wins in the program's history, or maybe they lose by 30 in a very mundane fashion, either way, I look forward to supporting Zander Diamont and the entire team in what will surely be a very, very tough game.

Also, we're wearing the chrome domes. Get hype or get mad, I know some of y'all like to get upset about helmets.