By Jeff O'Brien

No. 10 Michigan State (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) at Indiana (2-3, 0-2), Saturday at noon EDT.

Line: Michigan State by 4½, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

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BLOOMINGTON, IN – SEPTEMBER 22: Peyton Ramsey #12 of the Indiana Hoosiers is tackled by a host of Michigan State Spartans defenders during the game at Memorial Stadium on September 22, 2018 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Series record: Michigan State leads 48-17-2.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

There’s more to this year’s Old Brass Spittoon game than a trophy. At the midway point, the Spartans are a surprise contender in the Big Ten East. They’re tied with No. 6 Ohio State and No. 8 Michigan for the division lead. Indiana’s three losses have come against No. 2 Iowa, No. 3 Cincinnati and No. 7 Penn State and an upset Saturday would help them start chasing this season’s big goals — such as retaining the Spittoon in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1968-69.

BLOOMINGTON, IN – OCTOBER 1: Dameon Willis Jr. #43 of the Indiana Hoosiers and members of the Indiana Hoosiers celebrate with fans after the game against the Michigan State Spartans at Memorial Stadium on October 1, 2016 in Bloomington, Indiana. Indiana defeated Michigan State 24-21. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

KEY MATCHUP

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Spartans RB Kenneth Walker vs. Indiana’s run defense. The nation’s top rusher has given the Michigan State offense a new identity. He’s not just beating opponents, he’s gashing them for 6.8 yards per carry. Indiana has been solid against the run but must perform at a higher level after getting two weeks to prepare for Walker.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Michigan State: WR Jalen Nailor. The Big Ten co-offensive player of the week tied a school record with three touchdowns — of 63, 63 and 65 yards — in the first half of last week’s 31-13 win at Rutgers. He had 221 yards receiving, the fourth-highest single-game total in program history.

EAST LANSING, MI – NOVEMBER 28: Jalen Nailor #8 of the Michigan State Spartans receives a touchdown pass against Cameron Ruiz #18 of the Northwestern Wildcats during the first quarter at Spartan Stadium on November 28, 2020 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

Indiana: QBs Michael Penix Jr. and Jack Tuttle. Coach Tom Allen is being coy this week. He won’t discuss the practice status of Penix (separated left shoulder joint) and won’t announce a starter until kickoff. If Penix plays, he may be limited. If Tuttle makes his first start of the season, the Hoosiers may alter the offensive game plan.

FACTS & FIGURES

Michigan State is 6-0 for the first time since going 8-0 in 2015 when it made a playoff run. … The Spartans have reached the top 10 for the first time since Sept. 18, 2016. … Nailor had 44.2 yards per reception last week, the highest average by a Big Ten player this century. … Walker has two 200-yard rushing games this season and had a school-record, 94-yard TD run last week. … Indiana is 11-7 in Big Ten play since 2019, the league’s fourth-highest victory total over that span. … WR Ty Fryfogle had a career-best 11 receptions for 200 yards and two TDs in Indiana’s 24-0 victory at East Lansing last season. … The Old Brass Spittoon was first awarded to the winner of this contest in 1950.

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