2011 Prediction & Game Story
Week 12, Indiana at Michigan St
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Nov. 19 at Michigan State 55 … Indiana 3
CFN Analysis: Thanks to Michigan’s win over Nebraska, Michigan State has won the Legends division and is off to play for the Big Ten title against either Wisconsin or Penn State. … MSU has been phenomenal at home against mediocre teams, and it, and this was a crisp, dominant performance with Kirk Cousins and B.J. Cunningham hooking up six times for 132 yards and two scores, while Le’Veon Bell. … The defensive front was terrific at getting into the Indiana backfield, never letting the Hoosier skill players get any room to breathe. Jerel Worthy gummed things up on the inside, and everything else worked from there. … How do you handle the Northwestern game? The Spartans aren’t going to get an at-large BCS bid if it loses to Wisconsin, so it’s Rose Bowl or bust, so do you take a chance on anyone getting hurt and do you rest all the key players? If not, there might be a Nebraska-like performance on the way.
Indiana ran into a buzzsaw. Michigan State was shooting for the Big Ten Legends title, and it was ultra-focused and ultra-sharp; the Hoosiers never had a chance. The offensive line was destroyed and the offense couldn’t go anywhere. … Tre Roberson finally looked like a freshman, completing 10-of-23 passes for 92 yards with two picks while running for just 12 yards on ten carries. Edward Wright-Baker had a little bit of garbage-time success completing 5-of-9 passes. … After playing well in the loss to Ohio State a few weeks ago, the team showed improvement before getting rolled by the Spartans. For all the problems and all the ugliness of a winless season against FBS teams, a good game at home against Purdue would mean everything for the offseason. The program needs a positive, but this week’s game was a step back.
(AP) EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State collected two trophies and a spot in the first Big Ten championship game in one afternoon.
Yes, this was definitely a productive Saturday for the Spartans.
Kirk Cousins threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns in just over a half, leading the Spartans (No. 15 BCS, No. 12 AP) to a 55-3 victory over Indiana in their home finale.
A few minutes after the game concluded, Michigan finished off its victory over Nebraska, locking the Spartans into the first Big Ten championship game.
"The journey isn't over -- we still want to finish this off," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. "But I want to congratulate the senior class for winning 35 games -- the winningest class in the history of Michigan State football."
The Spartans entered with a one-game lead in the Legends Division over Nebraska and Michigan, who were playing at the same time in Ann Arbor. When the Wolverines won, it clinched the division for Michigan State (9-2, 6-1 Big Ten) because of its 28-14 win over Michigan on Oct. 15.
Michigan's victory led to the unthinkable at Spartan Stadium -- a cheer for the Wolverines.
"The only trophy Coach let us look at this week was the one for the Indiana game -- the Old Brass Spittoon," Cousins said. "Our focus has always been to win this game and win next week and not need any help to get into the championship game. We got some help, but we still want to beat Northwestern and then take that momentum to Indianapolis."
Once the game was over, Dantonio let his team see the Legends Division trophy.
"This is special, because this is something we built," he said. "It wasn't here when we got here, but we brought in players that we thought could play, and they overachieved and bought into what we wanted to do."
Cousins hit B.J. Cunningham for a 7-yard touchdown on Michigan State's first possession of the second half, giving the Spartans a 41-3 lead. The senior handed off on the first play of the next drive, then was replaced by Andrew Maxwell.
Cousins saluted the Spartans logo at midfield before leaving to a large ovation. He finished 16-of-23, and now has 60 career touchdown passes, one short of Jeff Smoker's school record.
"We talked about leaving here the right way -- we've seen the basketball team do it, and we wanted to leave in style," he said. "To play a flawless game in our last game at Spartan Stadium, and then be in a position to just sit back and take in the whole second half -- that's a huge thrill."
Michigan State finished with 470 yards of offense to 234 for Indiana (1-10, 0-7), and forced the game's only two turnovers.
"I can't even tell you how excited I am right now," senior safety Trenton Robinson said. "We're the first team to ever win our way into the Big Ten championship, and we did with such a great game. ... This was the best moment of my career."
The Spartans scored on their first two possessions, thanks to a pair of big passes from Cousins to Cunningham. The first, a 37-yarder, led to a 21-yard field goal by Dan Conroy. On the second, Indiana's defense bit hard on a play-fake, leaving Cunningham alone behind the defense for a 63-yard score.
Another big play lifted Michigan State to a 17-0 lead after one. Cousins hit Keshawn Martin on the sideline, and the senior wide receiver avoided two poor tackles before racing into the end zone for a 47-yard score.
"Credit Michigan State -- they are pretty good and they were ready to play," Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said. "But we had a very poor plan by us coaches and not very good playing from our kids."
Martin also scored on a 19-yard sweep and Edwin Baker's 10-yard run made it 31-3 late in the second quarter. Johnny Adams added an 86-yard interception return for a score in the third quarter.
By the end, Michigan State was comfortable enough to run an end-around for star guard Joel Foreman, who gained 3 yards before coming out for his own ovation.
"For me, the highlights are always going to be our four wins against Michigan," the senior said. "But it was great to go out and play the way we did today."
Dantonio said no one would sit out next Saturday's game at Northwestern, because the Spartans still have a chance to move up in the rankings before the Dec. 3 championship game in Indianapolis.
"We're not done," Robinson said. "We want to be 10-2 going into the championship game, and then we want to win that and go to the Rose Bowl."
Indiana (1-9) at Michigan State (8-2) Nov. 19, 12:00, BTN
Here’s The Deal … The Legends is right there for Michigan State to take, and it’ll clinch at least a tie with a win over IU, and it’ll take a spot in the inaugural Big Ten championship if it wins this week and if Nebraska loses to Michigan. Or, the Spartans can take the title no matter what by beating the Hoosiers this week and Northwestern next week.
But the team needs to show it has its head on straight.
At times, MSU has looked like the star of the conference, playing great in the classic win over Michigan State and bullying Michigan, but it decided not to show up against Nebraska and it played a curiously awful game in the win over lowly Minnesota. But just when it seemed like things were about to slide, everything was right with the world again in a dominant blowout at Iowa.
The defense has been terrific, the offense is efficient and effective, and for the second straight year, everything appears to be in place to be in the mix for the Rose Bowl up until the very end of the season. But first, the Spartans have to show up and try, which hasn’t been a given over the last few weeks.
Indiana is getting better. It’s having a rough first year under head coach Kevin Wilson and it’s not playing a lick of defense, but it gave Ohio State a nice push two weeks ago, eerily foreshadowing the Buckeyes’ problems to come against Purdue, and the offense has shown some signs of life. There has yet to be a win over an FBS team and the Hoosiers have lost seven straight, but a win to screw up Michigan State’s season would make the year.
Why Indiana Might Win: Michigan State’s defense had problems with Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez, who only threw for 80 yards and ran for 23, but was surprisingly effective beyond the stats, and Minnesota’s MarQueis Gray ran for 71 yards and threw for 295 yards and three scores. The Spartans have dealt with a slew of other athletic, mobile quarterbacks throughout the year, and did a nice job against Denard Robinson and Braxton Miller, but if they’re not focused, they could have problems with Tre Roberson, the IU freshman quarterback who bothered Ohio State two weeks ago and is becoming just dangerous enough to handle himself well against the MSU defensive pressure.
Compared to earlier in the year, IU hasn’t been screwing up without a fumble – not just a lost fumble, a fumble – in the last three games and with two picks in the span. In a perfect world, IU has the running game to pull a Nebraska, but with a little more passing, to keep the Spartans on their heels. The Hoosiers have had two weeks off to rest up and prepare, and MSU might be thinking the Legends title is already over.
Why Michigan State Might Win: If Kirk Cousins is on, it’s over. He wasn’t sharp and he wasn’t effective against Nebraska, and he ended up throwing for 86 yards, and he struggled a bit against Michigan and didn’t wake up until late until Minnesota. However, this is MSU’s Senior Day and its Cousins’ final game at home. He only has one pick in his last five games – the Nebraska loss – and it he gets time to work, he should take target practice on a Hoosier secondary that’s been a total disaster against accurate, efficient quarterbacks.
But the game will probably be taken out of Cousins hands. The IU defensive front has been beaten up, battered, and bruised by Ohio State, Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin over the second half of the season, giving up 15 scores in the last five games and doing nothing to hold up against power running attacks. MSU rolls when Cousins is playing well, but lately, it’s been …
What To Watch Out For: Le’Vion Bell is becoming a pounding workhorse at just the right time. The sophomore wasn’t used much throughout the first half of the season, but last week he had his first 20-carry game of his career and proved he could handle it, rumbling for 112 yards and a score as he set the tone in the win over Iowa. He’s just the type of back Indiana has big problems with, and it should show in the second half as he wears down the IU D.
Indiana needs Kofi Hughes to establish himself as the No. 1 target to build the receiving corps around. The passing game took a huge hit when Demarlo Belcher was kicked off the team, and Hughes turned into the team’s main man against Ohio State with eight catches for 147 yards and a score. Over the wrist injury that bothered him last year, and well past the transition from a high school quarterback to a college wide receiver, he has 6-2, 204-pound size and terrific athleticism the speed needed to make more of an impact.
What Will Happen: Michigan State will be perfect. In the final home game of the season, and with a division title possibly on the line. The offense will put it away in three drives, the defense will be a rock, and the second half will be spent watching what’s happening in the Nebraska – Michigan game.
CFN Prediction: Michigan State 37 … Indiana 13
Click For Latest Line From ATS: Michigan State -28.5 O/U: 53
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