4 storylines for Indiana’s game vs. Michigan State

1. Can Indiana clean up its mess?
Last week’s 33-28 loss to Wake Forest was riddled with mistakes. There were five interceptions — the bulk of which were not solely the fault of quarterback Richard Lagow. There were also nine penalties totaling 84 yards — including one drive that saw IU’s defense flagged four times. Indiana failed to capitalize on a winnable game on its home field, and now enters a stretch of three consecutive weeks against ranked opponents. At the very least, the Hoosiers will be able to stay above water with further polish.

2. How many takeaways can IU’s defense claim?
The Hoosiers were on an impressive pace, having seized six takeaways across the first two games. Last, week, however, Indiana’s defense came up empty. The Hoosiers nearly recovered a fumble, but it was instead negated by a penalty. The lack of takeaways was especially noticeable in a game where IU’s offense turned the ball over five times. It’s not hard to image what a takeaway or two might have done to balance those errors on the other end.

3. Does Michigan State reboot its running game?
A week after tallying 260 rushing yards against an admittedly porous Notre Dame defense, Michigan State struggled to run with consistency last Saturday against Wisconsin. The Spartans rushed for 75 yards, with top running back LJ Scott held to 61 yards on 14 carries. For Scott, 19 of his yards came on his first carry of the day. Without a running game, Sparty overexposed quarterback Tyler O’Connor. Establishing a ground presence will be objective No. 1 for MSU’s offense.

4. Can IU not only compete, but finish?
Progress was apparent last fall, when IU took ranked opponents Ohio State, Michigan State, Iowa and Michigan to the wire before falling short. The Hoosiers hung with the Spartans last season in East Lansing until coming undone by 24 unanswered Michigan State points in the fourth quarter. A difficult October schedule awaits Indiana, which once again will have opportunities to author the signature conference victory this program is still waiting for.

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