Oh boy, where to begin. Going to start typing and see where that takes me. A few of my thoughts from an odd first half in Bloomington:
Has Indiana been the better side?
I’d say yes. Obviously the score doesn’t show it and that’s what ultimately matters, but it’s been a theme in this series lately. Last year in East Lansing, the Hoosiers outplayed the Spartans. I’d argue that’s happened again here in Bloomington, considering how monumental the Shakur Brown pick-six was to give Michigan State the 14-0 lead early.
Indiana’s defense has come to play. The first MSU touchdown drive featured a lot of missed tackles, and the Spartans’ drive to end the half wasn’t great, but all in all, the Hoosiers have held the Spartans in check. It helps that Michigan State simply cannot seem to run the ball (18 yards on ten carries), and Brian Lewerke hasn’t been the most accurate.
Indiana again seems to be the recipient of missed calls from the officials. Let’s be clear: that was not defensive pass interference on Raheem Layne, and I’d argue that the officials missed an offensive pass interference on the touchdown catch by Michigan State’s Matt Dolson. Other than that, it’s been what you’d expect in an important Big Ten football game.
The Hoosiers have not done anything to be given the benefit of the doubt, however. The second-quarter sequence where Indiana could not convert on 3rd-and-1, and 4th-and-1, was poor. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen an effective quarterback sneak out of the shotgun. Indiana stalled on the Michigan State 18-yard line and left points on the board. Those points have already haunted an Indiana team that can’t afford it.
Evaluating the IU offense
Well, it hasn’t been bad? This is a tricky one. Ramsey has done a solid job at getting the ball to Whop Philyor, who leads the game with eight catches for 59 yards despite being banged up. Stevie Scott has been handled in his first-ever Big Ten game, with 15 yards on eight carries. I think Indiana should continue to run the football, but playing from behind will force the Hoosiers to throw. I’d expect to see Michael Penix if Indiana doesn’t move the ball on its first drive of the second half, but what do I know? That’s just been when Allen has felt comfortable using him.
Indiana hasn’t taken advantage of its field possession to the point where it should. The Spartans cannot punt very well without their starting punter, and J-Shun Harris must be licking his chops. It’s an obvious point, but Indiana has to score on its first drive of the second half. Because a 28-7 deficit against this methodical Michigan State offense is probably insurmountable.
Ramsey isn’t the reason Indiana trails 21-7. The interception was unlucky and his only other mistake was missing Reese Taylor on a vertical route to end Indiana’s first offensive sequence. But the Hoosiers could use an explosive play, given their longest offensive play has been 13 yards.