NOAH TRISTER, AP Sports Writer
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — On the same day Michigan State beat Michigan with an unforgettable finish, Indiana was playing Rutgers in a game that was thrilling but — for obvious reasons — overshadowed.
The Hoosiers ended up on the wrong side of that one, allowing the game’s last 28 points in a 55-52 loss to Rutgers.
“We played pretty well for three quarters,” receiver Mitchell Paige said.
Unfortunately for Indiana — and oh so fortunately for Michigan State — the game is 60 minutes long, and there’s no telling what these two teams have in store when they play each other Saturday. The seventh-ranked Spartans are still undefeated, but they’ll have to avoid a letdown against the Hoosiers.
Michigan State (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten) may never top the dramatic ending to last weekend’s game, when Michigan’s punter muffed a snap on the last play, and Jalen Watts-Jackson ran the fumble back for a touchdown and a 27-23 win. That victory was the talk of college football, and it’s easy to overlook this next game against Indiana, with the Spartans a double-digit favorite.
Of course, Michigan State hasn’t beaten anybody by double digits since conference play began. The Spartans had issues to address as they entered the matchup with Michigan, and although they played well enough to steal that game at the end, they still have a lot they can improve.
“I’m looking at it for myself, to be more clutch in the situation at the end,” Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook said. “I think we had two or three turnover-on-downs, and we can’t have that.”
Cook at least can rejoice in the fact that his team won. Indiana (4-3, 0-3) has no such luxury. The Hoosiers were ahead of Rutgers 52-27 late in the third quarter before allowing four touchdowns and a field goal and losing the game.
Here are a few things to watch when the Spartans host the Hoosiers:
It was ironic that Michigan State won last weekend on a botched punt, because the Spartans were awful on special teams prior to that. They allowed long returns, had a fake punt stopped and did not attempt a field goal.
Michigan State is fielding an inexperienced defensive backfield after injuries to Vayante Copeland and RJ Williamson. Michigan was not able to take advantage, but after putting up 52 points against Rutgers, Indiana is a threat to score in bunches in East Lansing.
Hoosiers quarterback Nate Sudfeld threw for 464 yards against Rutgers.
The loss to Rutgers could really sting for a while, because now Indiana’s schedule becomes difficult again. After playing at Michigan State, the Hoosiers will host Iowa and Michigan.
But Indiana already played Ohio State tough earlier this month, so the Spartans shouldn’t take them lightly.
PLENTY OF TARGETS
Three Indiana players — Paige, Simmie Cobbs and Ricky Jones — were over 100 yards receiving last weekend. The 5-foot-10 Jones has 32 receptions for 624 yards and four touchdowns on the season.
The Spartans have been weakened by injuries up front. They started their fifth different combination on the offensive line at Michigan, with Jack Conklin playing for the first time since Sept. 26.
Jack Allen did not play against the Wolverines, and he’s listed only as a possible starter at center on this week’s depth chart.
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