Michigan State's defense repeatedly bailed out its offense, which did just enough to get a 17-9 victory over Indiana in East Lansing on Saturday.
IU's offense is not a juggernaut by any means, but the MSU defense was impressively tough, especially in the red zone, which ended up being the difference in the game. IU could only muster 253 total yards and ended up kicking three field goals.
MSU mounted an ugly fourth-quarter drive that resulted in the only touchdown for either team at that point and gave MSU a lead its defense refused to relinquish.
Tough defenses and moribund offenses ruled the day, especially in the first half. Combined, the teams were 3-for-17 on third down conversions and barely cracked 200 yard of offense. The first half ended tied, 3-3.
With the win, MSU moves to 6-1, 4-0 Big Ten, securing bowl-eligibility with a trip to Northwestern next week.
IU falls to 3-4, 0-4.
MSU defense holds, wins 17-9
After intentionally allowing a score, IU got the ball with 1:49 left, down eight points at its own 25 yard-line. Ramsey scrambled out of bounds for a five-yard gain, then found Timian for a first down. A holding penalty knocked IU back to its own 26-yard line with 1:20 left. Timian caught another 10-yard pass and IU used its last timeout. Ramsey scrambled to his right and thew the ball away. With 59 seconds left, Ramsey completed a pass to Timian for a one-yard gain. On 4th & 9, Ramsey was nailed by Raekwon Williams and his pass fell harmlessly to the turf. MSU downed the ball a couple times to end it.
IU allows TD, 17-9 MSU
MSU tried to bleed the clock with two short runs. On 3rd & 8, Lewerke hit Rison for the the first down. Scott ran for a short gain and IU used its first time out. McCray then tackled Scott behind the line, and IU used its second timeout. On 3rd and 9, Lewerke found White for a big catch and run well into IU territory. IU then let Scott run for a touchdown, with that being IU's only way to get the ball back.
MSU forces another short possession
Ellison was injured on the ensuing kickoff, but jogged off the field. Gest picked up four yards on first down, then Cobbs caught a pass but was out of bounds. On 3rd & 6, Ramsey scrambled for little gain. IU punted. MSU's ball inside its own 40-yard line, up 10-9 with 5:04 left in the fourth.
MSU takes lead, 10-9 in fourth
Lewerke threw a long pass down the left sideline that was well out of bounds, but IU was flagged for pass interference, putting MSU into IU territory. On first down a Lewerke pass was overthrown. Lewerke was then sacked by senior linebacker Chris Covington near midfield. On 3rd & 19, Lewerke threw a ball late over the middle caught by White three yards short of the line to gain. MSU went for it, and Hunter Rison caught a pass for four yards, giving MSU a first down at IU's 29-yard line. Felton Davis then took an end-around reverse for another first down. From IU's 13-yard line, Scott leaped into the line but only gained three yards. Lewerke then found a wide-open Davis for a touchdown. 10-9 MSU with 5:59 left in the fourth quarter.
MSU with good field position
Ramsey and Ellison combined for two short run, setting up 3rd and 5. After a false start penalty, Brookins caught a short pass, but IU would have to punt from its own end zone. The punt was fair caught at MSU's 45-yard line. Still 9-3 for IU.
MSU recovers own fumble, punts
MSU started with the ball on its own 25. Lewerke took a hard hit on a pass attempt, but IU was flagged for pass interference, giving MSU a first down. Scott took a hand-off for a four-yard gain, then a three-yard gain. On 3rd and 3, Lewerke rolled out to the right and was hit as he attempted to throw, fumbling the ball which bounced right to MSU lineman Cole Chewins. MSU punted. IU ball, up 9-3 with 10:35 left in the fourth.
Another IU field goal, 9-3 IU
Ramsey hit Ellison for another first down to MSU's 27-yard line, then Ellison was matched up with Frey on a wheel route and Frey committed pass interference, setting up Indiana at MSU's 11-yard line. After a couple short runs, Ellison gained only one yard, setting up 4th and 2 within MSU's 10-yard line. Oakes converted the 21-yard field goal, putting IU up 9-3 with 12:29 left in the game.
IU driving, up 6-3 end 3rd
IU moved into MSU territory quickly with their signature tempo. An injury to IU lineman Delroy Baker gave MSU a breather. On first down, Ramsey scrambled for a short gain, ending the third quarter. 6-3 IU.
Lewerke inaccuracy costs MSU possession
On first down, Lewerke hit White for seven yards. Scott then lost a yard, setting up 3rd & 4. Lewerke again found White, giving MSU a first down at its 40-yard line. Lewerke then threw the ball deep into double coverage, and Stewart did a good job to bat the ball away from the IU defenders. On 2nd & 10, Lewerke hit White again for a first down into IU territory. Scott took a pitch for seven yards on a well-blocked play, then Lewerke threw an incomplete pass. On 3rd & 3, Lewerke's pass was too low, setting up 4th & 3. MSU went for it from IU's 35-yard line. Lewerke's pass was way wide and high, turning the ball back over to IU.
IU field goal, MSU down 6-3
Ellison was swarmed by MSU defenders and lost two yards on first down. Ramsey then attempted a long pass, but it was overthrown, setting up 3rd and 12. Ramsey dumped it off to junior running back Ricky Brookins, who ran for a first down to MSU's 22-yard line. Freshman running back Cole Gest ran for two yards, then Ramsey hit junior receiver J-Shun Harris on a crossing route for another first down. After a five-yard run, Ramsey threw a wide receiver screen for four yards, setting up 3rd & 1. Ramsey' pass into the flat was complete for a first down into MSU territory. Ramsey completed another pass to Cobbs for a nine-yard gain, then attempted a long pass to Cobbs down the sideline that was incomplete, but MSU was called for an obvious pass interference, setting up IU at MSU's 24-yard line. On first down, Ramsey scrambled and then threw the ball away. On 2nd & 10, Ellison was dropped for no gain, setting up 3rd & 10. A screen pass to Cobbs lost yards, setting up a huge field goal attempt from 44 yards. Oakes put it right down the middle, 6-3 IU with 5:31 left in the third quarter. That was the best drive from IU's offense so far this game.
IU defense forces another punt
On 1st down, Scott ran for three yards, then two, setting up 3rd & 5. Lewerke dumped a pass off to London for the first down. Stewart lost three yards on a jet sweep, then Lewerke threw it away. On 3rd & 13, Lewerke's pass intended for freshman Hunter Rison fell incomplete, setting up another punt. Still tied, 3-3.
Frey gets pressure, IU punts
On 3rd & 4, Ramsey threw the ball away as he was being pulled down by senior linebacker Chris Frey, setting up a punt. MSU ball, game tied, 3-3.
MSU goes three and out
After a quick three and out, including a drop by Felton Davis, MSU punted. Game tied, 3-3.
Neither team was able to move the ball in the first half. IU was 1-for-8 on 3rd down, MSU was 2-for-9. IU had a slight 119-115 edge in total yardage. IU was averaging 2.6 yards per carry, MSU 2.1. MSU fans were starting to get frustrated:
IU recovered their own fumble then ran the clock out. Halftime, 3-3.
IU gets ball in MSU territory
MSU didn't attempt a score, running the ball three times and punting. IU ball at MSU's 49-yard line with 25 seconds left in the half. Tie game, 3-3.
IU penalty precedes another punt
On 2nd & 10, IU was called for an obvious chop block, setting it back to its 31-yard line where a receiver screen gained a yard. On 3rd & 23, IU ran the ball for a short gain and punted with 1:44 left. Still tie game, 3-3.
MSU adds to punt party
Lewerke scrambled out of the pocket and hit freshman tight end Noah Davis. Davis was injured on the play and walked off the field with assistance. On 3rd and 1 from MSU's 18-yard line, Scott was stuffed for no gain, and MSU punted. Tie game, 3-3.
IU can't get going on offense
After a touchback, Ellison ran for five yards, then was stuffed for a four-yard loss. On 3rd & 9, Ramsey threw to Cobbs, who made a nice catch, for a first down. Ramsey then gained a yard on a designed run, then scrambled for a loss, setting up another 3rd & 9. Ramsey's short pass was caught short of the line to gain, and IU punted. Tie game, 3-3.
MSU ties game 3-3
Scott ran for a three-yard gain, then caught a screen pass to put MSU inside IU's 10-yard line. On 1st & Goal Lewerke ran for a short gain, then lost a yard on another run, setting up 3rd & Goal. Lewerke pitched to running back Connor Heyward who threw it back to Lewerke in the end zone, but it fell incomplete. MSU hit the field goal to tie the game, 3-3.
MSU in IU territory
LJ Scott ran for nine yards, putting MSU near midfield. On 2nd & 1, Scott ran through a big hole for ten yards, then took a pitch for no gain. Lewerke hit Stewart on a bootleg inside IU's 30-yard line. Still 3-0 IU.
IU's Fant injured
On first down, IU was called for holding, moving the sticks for MSU. IU defensive back Rashard Fant was injured on the play. 3-0 IU.
IU goes three and out
Indiana threw a wide receiver screen for no gain on first down. Ramsey's second down pass was incomplete down the sideline, setting up 3rd & 10. Ramsey then scrambled for a few yards, setting up a punt. Still 3-0 IU.
Mistake sets MSU back
On 2nd & 3 Scott ran for a first down, putting MSU into IU territory. The ball was then snapped through Lewerke's hands, setting MSU back to their own 37-yard line. Lewerke then hit receiver Darrell Stewart for a small gain, followed by an incomplete pass. The resulting punt went in to the end zone for a touchback. MSU fans were not impressed. 3-0 IU.
IU leads 3-0 after first quarter
An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on IU put MSU on their own 40-yard line, then Scott ran for a short gain, ending the first quarter. 3-0 IU
IU hits field goal
After a run for no gain and a sack, Ramsey attempted a fade to Timian, but it fell incomplete. Senior kicker Griffin Oakes hit the 33-yard field goal. 3-0 IU.
Fumble sets up IU in red zone
After a three-yard run, then Madre London fumbled, handing the ball to IU at MSU's 15-yard line.
IU punts again
Ramsey hit receiver Luke Timian for a quick first down, then MSU went offside setting IU up with another first down. Ramsey found an open receiver to get to IU's 40-yard line. After a short Ellison run, Ramsey was sacked, setting up 3rd & 11. Ramsey then ran for nine yards, and IU punted to MSU's 12 yard-line. Still 0-0.
IU ball on own 7
The MSU offense sputtered, and it punted. IU ball on their own seven-yard line. Score still knotted at 0.
MSU moving the ball
LJ Scott made his debut with a two-yard run, then caught a screen for another yard. On 3rd & 7, Lewerke was sacked by senior Robert McCray, but McCray was flagged for a horse-collar tackle, setting up MSU on their own 41-yard line. Lewerke scrambled for no gain on first down. After an incomplete pass, Lewerke found receiver Cody White on a slant for the first down, moving MSU into Indiana territory. Madre London ran for two yards, then Indiana took a timeout.
IU escapes poor field position
On first down, IU gained no yards on a run. Ramsey then threw a thirty-yard pass to Simmie Cobbs. After an incomplete pass, Cobbs caught a screen pass for a three-yard gain. On 3rd & 7, Ramsey threw it away while being pulled down by MSU defenders.
MSU punts to 1-yard line
On 3rd & 2, MSU picked up the first down on a jet sweep. Running back Madre London then ran for a three-yard gain. Quarterback Brian Lewerke gained two yards on a designed run and then threw an incomplete pass setting up a punt that rolled to Indiana's 1-yard line.
Indiana punts on first possession
Indiana started with the ball on MSU's 32-yard line. Two running plays resulted in a first down. After a seven-yard run by freshman Morgan Ellison, quarterback Peyton Ramsey threw an incomplete pass. On 3rd & 3, Ellison was stuffed, setting up 4th & 1. Indiana punted, and after a holding penalty, MSU will start with the ball on their own 20.
The game is starting now on ESPN News due to overtime on ABC.
Indiana has not had a lot of success in the Big Ten over the last 70 years or so:
Per the scroll on ABC, even though it looks like this Texas / Oklahoma State game might go into overtime, MSU/Indiana will still be shown on ABC with kickoff at 3:36.
Looks like MSU's OL will be bolstered this afternoon:
But the secondary and special teams are missing a contributor:
A little pre-game reading:
Incredibly important update:
Michigan State takes on Indiana on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Spartan Stadium. Follow the action here with live updates throughout the game by Eric Coughlin of The Detroit News
MICHIGAN STATE VS. INDIANA
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Where: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing
TV / radio: ABC / WJR 760
Records: Michigan State 5-1 (3-0 Big Ten), Indiana 3-3 (0-3)
Line: Michigan State by 6