Holy shit. It’s mid-October. Time just keeps zipping by. That is, unless you’re an Indiana fan that’s endured an emotional drop that rivals Kings Island’s Orion. In that case, this football season seems like it’s drug on for an eternity. We started out so well, then the wheel came off and now we’re all wondering….can we even get to 6 wins?
When this season started, I prepared myself for this game specifically. Indiana gets two trophy games, and dammit I like some good old fashioned rivalries. Rivalry? Well I think I made my opinion known in our earlier piece from this week (check out that site synergy below). Even lacking a true hatred for our opponent, the Michigan State Spartans, it’s still cool that if we win we get cool little doohickey people use to spit into.
So how will this game go? Welp…we’ll see.
History and Fun Facts
- Indiana won the first meeting in 1922, then again in 1927 to start out 2-0. Follow that up with a 7-7 tie in 1939 and an Indiana win in 1940, and it’s all uphill from there.
- Since the Brass Spittoon was played for, Indiana has only beat Michigan State twice in a row once, where from 1967-1969 Indiana was able to win 3 straight Spittoons.
- Since 1990, this game the margin of the final score has been 10 points or under only 8 times in 27 games. Zoinks.
- Indiana managed to just manhandle Michigan State and Ricky Lombardo last year 24-0.
- Michigan State plays for not one, but two dumb trophies in their season. Green Akers: How dare, because we don’t play Notre Dame this year, so you’re casting aspersions on either the Land Grant or the Paul Bunyan and you can GTFO with that. Sorry all your trophies are vessels for waste liquids.
- Michigan State’s best sport is its cross country team, which has won 8 national titles.
- Michigan State is located in East Lansing. That’s less fun than it is fact.
- When googling fun facts about Michigan State, it becomes apparent very quickly that....it’s not a lot of fun actually. Green Akers: A little respect for the nation’s first agricultural college wouldn’t kill you, you know. But if reducing over 600,000 living alumni to all bad because Nassar makes your world understandable, go off. We’re taking the Spittoon back and I’m not going to feel bad about it.
- Michigan State was a founding member of the MIAA, a Division 3 conference.
What to Watch For
1) Can Indiana stop Kenneth Walker?
“Buff, why the fuck are you leading with this question and not talking about our QB situation?” Well dear reader, if Indiana can’t stop the Spartans’ running attack it doesn’t matter who’s behind center. The offense has been so inept that we basically have to rely on the defense to keep us in the game. At the time of writing, I have no idea who’s playing on defense. Is Taylor back? Mullen? If they aren’t, are we deep enough to at least make driving the ball a challenge? Kenneth Walker is averaging 7 yards per carry. That is the main concern for Indiana this week.
Green Akers: I’m going to say no. As a treat.
2) Who will be the quarterback and will it matter?
This is such an interesting question to answer this week. Also, it’s very depressing. On August 1, we all thought Mike Penix was the second coming of Randle El. Two months and 5 disappointing games later, the calls for Tuttle time became very present. Then we got Tuttle time and nothing improved mid beatdown. So the real question is, is Nick Sheridan competent enough to give Indiana a chance to win with Jack Tuttle or Mike Penix? Let’s face it, it’s been awful this year offensively all around. The RB room is depleted. The O line is in shambles. The WR room is also depleted. Are there enough pieces to put together a good game or are we just wasting time until Maryland to see if we have a chance at 6-6?
GA: All signs point to Tuttle, though in what’s becoming near-uniform coach protocol, Allen sure isn’t saying. Even with Penix’s struggles, though, of course it still matters - he’s the guy with the moxie who’s proven he can lead Indiana to the big wins. Speaking as an opposing fan, even a sub-100% Penix would concern me a lot more than a near-unknown.
3) Can Tom Allen hold the ship together?
It’s really the magic question. There was no doubt in my mind that eventually, the Tom Allen ship would hit some rough waters. I didn’t expect it to feel this rough, but that was naïve of me. Can LEO last when you see kids transferring out mid year? Does everyone still buy into the philosophy? Can you even turn this team around? All wonderful questions that may start with this game.
GA: MSU had two guys transfer out midseason, too, and not end-of-bench walk-ons, but a key reserve LB and a demoted starting CB. And that’s after a fantastic, overachieving start to the year. Players everywhere are going to do what’s best for them now more than ever, so I don’t think that particular data point matters unless it’s a mass desertion.
Bigger picture, it can be tough sometimes for the very rah-rah sort of coach to maintain the energy and the tone of the message, and dealing with success is a very different mindset than getting to the top of the hill for the first time. I’m still of the mindset that this has been a very unkind schedule, and it’s not like Indiana has quit on the field.
4) BONUS QUESTION: How pissed will my mother-in-law be at me for watching this game during a wedding?
Kickoff is at noon and the wedding tips at 1. Odds are, the keg gets tapped sooner so my give a damn will be goneeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. How much can I piss off the woman who bore my wife? We will find out.
At Some Point, Something Must Go Right
There certainly is no place like home. It’s quite frankly the only place Indiana has scored with some consistency against a ranked team. I’m firmly of the opinion that this game is still very winnable for the Indiana Hoosiers. They know what they have to do, but do they have the strength to do it (ah, a Star Wars reference).
I think I’ve mentioned how good I believe the defense is each week now. This week may prove to undo that belief if they get run all over. That said, I think the Indiana defense is by far the best defense Michigan State has seen to this point. Also, Indiana is coming off a bye week and should have had a full week to scheme and gameplan for this. I believe in the Hoosiers. I believe they can pull off a legit upset.
Gametime: 10/16 – 12:00 PM EST – FS1
For more on Buffkomodo and Green Akers’ thoughts on the Old Brass Spittoon and other things Michigan State and Indiana this week, check out the other pieces at the links below. Special thanks to Green Akers for the site collaboration this week!