Michigan State vs. Indiana: 5 Reasons Why MSU Won
5 Reasons Why Michigan State Beat Indiana
Michigan State(4-2, 1-1) found themselves down by 17 after one quarter of play in Bloomington on Saturday against one of the conference’s least respected teams. Indiana(2-3, 0-2) completely dominated the first quarter of play and went into halftime with a shocking 27-14 lead.
The Spartans looked defeated heading into the break and Indiana looked like this was going to be their first Big Ten win since 2010. The Hoosiers have lost 10 straight conference games and 23 of 24 Big Ten games dating back to 2009.
The home fans have not witnessed a conference win in Bloomington since October 17, 2009. These numbers seemed to be on the verge of shattering, then the Spartans took control of the game.
Michigan State fought back and shut the Hoosiers out in the second half, scoring 17 points and winning the game 31-27. Andrew Maxwell was on point in the second half, the defense was impermeable and Le’Veon Bell found holes that were non-existent, leading the Spartans to what could quite possibly be a season-defining comeback victory.
I know what you’re thinking-- how can a win over Indiana be defined as a season-defining win? I’ll tell you how—the Spartans were looking for a way to put everything together: defense, special teams, offense and coaching. The second half of this game displayed all of those aspects in play.
The Spartans were sharper, stronger and more confident in the second half and looked like the team everyone expected them to be in the beginning of the season.
If the two halves were switched around-- solid first half and poor second half—this would be a different story. Then we would be talking about how the Spartans have a tendency to fall apart.
Let’s take a look at why Michigan State was victorious over the horrific Hoosiers.
Aaron Burbridge's Emergence
The emergence of quite possibly their new number one receiver may be the best news that the Spartans have encountered all season long.
It had been a rough start to the season for the receiving unit, dropping 19 passes through six games, the most in the conference by a margin of six drops.
Aaron Burbridge had eight catches for 134 yards in Saturday’s win, both season highs for an MSU receiver this season.
This game wasn’t just a coming out game for the freshman Burbridge, it was a comeback game for junior Bennie Fowler who found his starting job in someone else’s hands for the first time this season. He saw the starting position at receiver leave his grasp and fall into the freshman’s hands.
This could have been used as a motivational tactic by the coaching staff to get Fowler going, but either way, two positives came from it—they found a star receiver in Burbridge and Fowler had a nice game of his own. The receivers seem to be on the right track.
Andrew Maxwell's Solid Play
Andrew Maxwell has had his third straight solid game as a starting quarterback. This was also his third straight game with a touchdown pass and also recorded his third game with at least 250 passing yards this season.
If his receivers showed consistency in catching the ball all season, his completion percentage on the season would be much higher than the 56.4 percent that we see so far.
The Spartans are lucky that they have a quarterback that was able to learn under All-Big Ten quarterback Kirk Cousins for two seasons and take note of what made him so successful.
Le'Veon Bell's Field Vision
Le’Veon Bell has had to deal with the loss of two of his best friends on the field—two offensive lineman. Center Travis Jackson is out for the season with a broken leg and an MCL injury and junior guard Fou Fonoti has been on the shelf for the better part of a month now with a foot injury.
Michigan State has been unlucky in the offensive line department of their team. With two inexperienced lineman now starting for the Spartans, Bell must put in the bulk of work in finding and creating his own holes on the field.
He has tremendous field vision and elusiveness that even the most injury-ridden line in the Big Ten would have an easy time blocking for. Bell ran the ball 37 times for 121 yards and two touchdowns. He has the most rushing yards in the conference, and with the offensive line struggles, that an amazing stat.
Strong Defense in the Second Half
The second half was a complete turnaround for the Spartan’s. Mark Dantonio must have laid into this team at halftime and made them realize who they play for and who they were playing against.
Michigan State football for the past few seasons has been defined by toughness and discipline, both of which were lacking in the first half.
The Spartans gave up 17 first downs and over 280 total yards in the first half. The second half was a complete 180-degree turn, giving up just 34 total yards and only two first downs to the Hoosiers.
This was a different team in the second halfthat got back to what Michigan State football is all about: toughness.
The Experience of the Spartans and Inexperience of the Hoosiers
Let’s face it, the Hoosiers lack experience and are a team that isn’t used to having a big lead late against a solid team.
The Spartans on the other hand, are one of the most experienced teams in the conference and know what it takes to come from behind and steal a win in the face of adversity.
This Michigan State team is loaded with guys that have been a part of two straight 11-win seasons and New Year’s Day bowl games. When they looked defeated, Spartan fans everywhere knew Dantonio wasn’t going to let them call it quits and end the game like that.
They pulled it out in yet another comeback win under Mark Dantonio and could have just experienced a season-revival win on the road.