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No. 10 Spartans visit Indiana as title hopes take shape

No. 10 Spartans visit Indiana as title hopes take shape
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Series record: Michigan State leads 48-17-2.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

There’s more to this year’s Old Brass Spittoon game than a trophy. At the midway point, the Spartans are a surprise contender in the Big Ten East. They’re tied with No. 6 Ohio State and No. 8 Michigan for the division lead. Indiana’s three losses have come against No. 2 Iowa, No. 3 Cincinnati and No. 7 Penn State and an upset Saturday would help them start chasing this season’s big goals — such as retaining the Spittoon in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1968-69.

KEY MATCHUP

Spartans RB Kenneth Walker vs. Indiana’s run defense. The nation’s top rusher has given the Michigan State offense a new identity. He’s not just beating opponents, he’s gashing them for 6.8 yards per carry. Indiana has been solid against the run but must perform at a higher level after getting two weeks to prepare for Walker.

Michigan State: WR Jalen Nailor. The Big Ten co-offensive player of the week tied a school record with three touchdowns — of 63, 63 and 65 yards — in the first half of last week’s 31-13 win at Rutgers. He had 221 yards receiving, the fourth-highest single-game total in program history.

Indiana: QBs Michael Penix Jr. and Jack Tuttle. Coach Tom Allen is being coy this week. He won’t discuss the practice status of Penix (separated left shoulder joint) and won’t announce a starter until kickoff. If Penix plays, he may be limited. If Tuttle makes his first start of the season, the Hoosiers may alter the offensive game plan.

Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne (10) celebrates a touchdown with Luke Campbell (62) during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Rutgers, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in Piscataway, N.J.

FACTS & FIGURES

Michigan State is 6-0 for the first time since going 8-0 in 2015 when it made a playoff run. ... The Spartans have reached the top 10 for the first time since Sept. 18, 2016. ... Nailor had 44.2 yards per reception last week, the highest average by a Big Ten player this century. ... Walker has two 200-yard rushing games this season and had a school-record, 94-yard TD run last week. ... Indiana is 11-7 in Big Ten play since 2019, the league’s fourth-highest victory total over that span. ... WR Ty Fryfogle had a career-best 11 receptions for 200 yards and two TDs in Indiana’s 24-0 victory at East Lansing last season. ... The Old Brass Spittoon was first awarded to the winner of this contest in 1950.
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