It took just 30 minutes for the excitement of Michigan State’s upset win over rival Michigan to be replaced with a sense of despair. The next game, the Spartans hardly resembled a competent football team in the first half of a 49-7 loss to Iowa on Nov. 7, trailing 35-0 at halftime.
Michigan State bettors could essentially rip up their +5.5 tickets at the break against Iowa.
Now the Spartans will look to bounce back against Indiana on Saturday. Michigan sportsbooks currently have Indiana as 7.5-point favorites over Michigan State. The Hoosiers have been one of the top teams in the Big Ten and are 3-0 after a convincing 38-21 win over Michigan on Nov. 7.
For the moneyline, Indiana sits at -295, while Michigan State is +230. The total over/under is set at 52.
Through two games, it’s still anyone’s guess as to the caliber of this Spartans team. Is it reminiscent of the group that lost as 10-point favorites to Rutgers, 38-27, and were blown out by Iowa? Or is there still hope if it can duplicate the success it had in the 27-24 rivalry victory over Michigan?
What Michigan State can’t afford against Indiana is another atrocious first-half showing. This was the Spartans’ drive sequence against Iowa to start the game: interception, punt, punt, interception, three-and-out, missed field goal, punt that was returned for a touchdown and then a pick-six.
Not surprisingly, Michigan State’s production has been tied to quarterback Rocky Lombardi. In the two losses, he is a combined 48 for 80 for 646 yards, three touchdowns, five interceptions and a lost fumble. Against Michigan, Lombardi completed 17 of 32 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns.
Running success has differed between the win and losses as well. Against Iowa, the Spartans gained just 59 yards on 32 carries. It was more of the same against Rutgers, with the team finishing with 50 yards on 39 attempts. The Michigan victory was the only time Michigan State eclipsed 100 yards, gaining 126 on 38 tries.
For as much success as Indiana has had offensively, its overall offensive numbers aren’t overwhelming. The Hoosiers are 12th in the Big Ten in offensive yards per game (339.3).
But the area where Indiana has excelled has been in the red zone. Out of 16 visits inside the opponent’s 20, the Hoosiers have come away with touchdowns 12 times.
Part of that success is due to the play of quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who has thrown six red-zone touchdowns and no interceptions. Against Michigan, Penix Jr. completed 30 of 50 passes for 342 yards and three touchdowns.