Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld leads the No. 1 offense (535 yards per game) in the Big Ten. (Joe Robbins / Getty Images)
Keys to the game
■ Get off the field: Michigan State is the No. 1 defense in the nation in third-down conversions, allowing just 17 first downs in 77 opportunities. Last week, the Spartans forced the Hawkeyes into 10 drives that lasted four plays or less. The same type of performance will be vital against the Hoosiers, who have the No. 1 offense in the Big Ten and specialize in a high-tempo pace offense. Michigan State struggled with it in the first half last season before regrouping.
■ Stay on the field: The Spartans are tops in the Big Ten in time of possession, averaging better than 34 minutes, something that will aid greatly in keeping the Hoosiersí offense off the field. Long, sustained drives ó Michigan State had seven last week against Iowa that lasted seven or more plays and two that went 12 plays ó will be the goal this week.
■ Put it in the end zone: While the offense started to come to life last week against Iowa by scoring on passing plays of 46 and 37 yards, Michigan State still is struggling to come away with TDs in the red zone. They have gotten in the end zone eight out of 16 trips inside the 20. Playing a potent offense, Michigan State needs to take advantage of every scoring opportunity.
■ Feel special: It doesnít get as much attention, but special teams have been big this season for Michigan State, highlighted by P Mike Sadlerís 25-yard run on a fake against Iowa. But the Spartans also have improved since moving freshman K Michael Geiger in for Kevin Muma against Notre Dame. And, the return games have gotten a spark from Macgarrett Kings Jr. and R.J. Shelton.
■ Enforce no-fly zone: The Spartans DBs like to believe the secondary is a bad place for opponents to attack, but until last week, the INTs had dried up. They had four INTs the first two games, but have been shut out until last week, when . That changed when CB Darqueze Dennard had two vs. Iowa. Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld has thrown six INTs.
Know the foe
■ Riding high: Indiana is feeling pretty good about itself after beating Penn State in its Big Ten opener last week. It was Indianaís first victory over Penn State and the first time the Hoosiers have won their conference opener since 2000. It was a solid response from a team that was coming off a one-sided loss to Missouri.
■ Lightning quick: Indiana is No. 1 in total offense in the Big Ten and isnít wasting any time when it comes to scoring. The Hoosiers are averaging 5.9 plays in 1:43 while covering 60.7 yards on their 32 scoring drives. They have 11 scoring drives that have lasted less than 60 seconds. and 17 that lasted less than 90 seconds. All but one of those resulted in a TD.
■ Defenseless: As potent as the Indiana offense has been, the defense has been at the opposite end of the spectrum. The Hoosiers are last in the Big Ten in total defense (452.6 yards) and are 11th in scoring defense (31). Indiana has managed to record 11 sacks and is fifth in the Big Ten in red-zone defense.
■ Home field: Michigan State didnít win any of its conference home games last season. Its last conference win at home? Indiana in November 2011.
■ Tradition: The teams have been playing for the Old Brass Spittoon since 1950. Legend has it the Spittoon is nearly 200 years old and has been around since both universities were founded. Michigan State has controlled the series, winning four straight and losing just twice since 1995.
■ Over the years: Michigan State has 339 victories in 90 seasons at Spartan Stadium, good for a .692 winning percentage. The first season was 1923, and todayís game will be the 500th in the history of the stadium, which opened as Macklin Field.