Michigan State vs. Indiana preview: Bounce-back critical

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

The Detroit News' Matt Charboneau breaks down Saturday's Michigan State-Indiana game at Memorial Stadium (8 p.m., BTN/WJR).

Richard Lagow threw for a school-record 496 yards against Wake Forest last week.

Hoosiers to watch

Richard Lagow, QB: The junior college transfer has had some impressive numbers through three games — including a school-record 496 yards passing last week against Wake Forest. He also threw five INTs, though. Lagow leads the Big Ten in passing yards (334), though Indiana’s red-zone offense ranks 13th.

Dan Feeney, RB: He did not play against Wake Forest because of a concussion, and is a game-time decision Saturday. The Hoosiers have struggled at times running run the ball, ranking in the bottom half of the Big Ten. If Feeney is available, it gives Indiana a better shot at a balanced offense.

Nick Westbrook, WR: The sophomore has 15 receptions and is tied for the team lead (Mitchell Paige). Westbrook leads the Big Ten and is No. 14 nationally averaging 110.7 yards and is the only receiver in the conference to average more than 100 yards. He has four TDs.


Still on track: Michigan State hasn’t spent much time the last several seasons bouncing back from a one-sided defeat (Wisconsin last week), at least not in the Big Ten. The path toward the top of the East Division still is clear, but slipping up on the road at Indiana would be a tough hurdle to overcome.

Up and down: The Spartans had their moments defensively last week, but the offense took a significant step in the wrong direction and could be sliding into a full-blown quarterback controversy. Tyler O’Connor has five INTs in three games, and a better showing would go a long way in securing his spot.

Mine, mine, mine: The teams have been playing for the Old Brass Spittoon since 1950, but it hasn’t gone home with the Hoosiers since 2006. It might not be the most famous trophy played for in college football, but it’s believed to be 190 years old.

All eyes on him: There’s plenty of pressure on Michigan State QB Tyler O’Connor after his three INTs in the loss to Wisconsin, one in which the Spartans didn’t score an offensive TD. The fifth-year senior has heard the criticism and is aware he’ll need pick it up before a quarterback controversy envelops the team.

Somber day: Michigan State will play with heavy hearts after the death of former DB Mylan Hicks. At least 40 players on Saturday’s traveling roster were teammates of Hicks, who graduated in 2014. The Detroit native was playing with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League when he was killed last Sunday. The Spartans will be wearing black socks and shoes to honor Hicks.

Facts and figures

■ Michigan State has won seven straight in the series, with its last loss in 2006 in Bloomington. A victory would tie their longest winning streak over the Hoosiers.

■ Indiana enters the game No. 2 in the Big Ten in total offense (516.7 yards, conference-leading 334 passing). The Hoosiers are 16th in the nation in total offense.

■ Three players on the Michigan State roster are from Indiana — fifth-year senior TE Josiah Price (Greektown), backup WR Paul Andrie (Valparaiso), and freshman DE Auston Robertson (Ft. Wayne).

■ Michigan State is 26-10 in Big Ten road games under coach Mark Dantonio, including 20-4 since 2010. Dantonio has won at least one game in every Big Ten stadium.

■ Tyler O’Connor will be making his third career road start — his first were at Ohio State last season and Notre Dame this year.