Hoosiers want to embrace the noise at MSU

The speaker systems have been turned on and the volume dialed up as Indiana prepares for a road trip to No. 25 Michigan State.

Crowd noise is music to Tom Allen’s ears.

“The weeks when you have the crowd noise pumped in, that gets me pumped up because I know what that means,” the Hoosiers’ third-year head coach said. “I know where we are going, I know what’s at stake, I know the environment we are going to be in. And I love those environments.

“I want our guys to learn to feed off of that.”

Allen’s enthusiasm speaks to the challenge at hand for the Hoosiers (3-1) as they head back into Big Ten play. After a disastrous 41-point loss to No. 5 Ohio State in Week 3, IU has another chance to embrace everything that comes with a Big Ten football game.

Can the Hoosier offensive line go round-for-round with one of the more physically imposing defensive lines in the country? Can a young IU defense keep from withering, holding its ground long enough to put an upset within reach? And can they do it with 73,000 fans in Spartan Stadium bearing down on them?

IU last held the Old Brass Spittoon in 2016, which was Allen’s first year with the program as defensive coordinator. But the Hoosiers haven’t claimed a road victory in East Lansing since Nov. 10, 2001. Michigan State has won its last seven home games in the trophy contest.

“Getting back into Big Ten play is a huge part of what we live for here and what we want to be in,” Allen said. “A great environment we’ll be playing in, a great, loud crowd. We talked about it with our players, what that means. Expect our guys to elevate their level of play, their focus, their execution, and be at their very best.”

Michigan State consistently draws fans for a reason. Mark Dantonio has had two losing seasons in his first dozen years leading the Spartan program, including bowl berths in all but one campaign. Dantonio became the winningest coach in MSU football history with a win over Northwestern last week.

Allen is still trying to build a culture of winning in Bloomington, so Dantonio can provide a model. When Allen sizes up what Dantonio has maintained at Michigan State, the words “consistency” and “toughness” came to mind.

“You always want to say, when you put the film on, ‘What’s this coach’s team going to look like? How are they going to play?’ and he’s done that for such a long time there,” Allen said. “You talk about what you want to build and he’s a defensive guy. Those things jump out at me, and the way they play defense, and the way they are able to recruit to their fit, the kind of player that fits their culture, and that’s what I want here.

“You have respect for those guys and he’s one of those.”

This year’s Spartan squad has been up and down offensively, but their defense remains stellar. MSU’s one loss came 10-7 to Arizona State. The Spartans blasted the Wildcats, 31-10.

IU’s defense is young and has been somewhat inconsistent, but this is a situation where that group needs to step up. Shutting down MSU running back Elijah Collins, who is second in the Big Ten with 357 yards through four weeks, will be IU’s first order of business.

“We’ve preached it all week long, the ability for us to stop the run game and prevent the big pass plays they’ve created off of that,” Allen said. “Our defense has to step up to the challenge and play above their age, a lot of those guys. That’s how you grow.

“You want these moments.”

Penix update

Redshirt freshman quarterback Michael Penix Jr. is still a game-time decision.

Penix, who has sat out the last two games with an undisclosed injury, has been throwing at practice as anticipated, Allen confirmed Thursday. Redshirt junior Peyton Ramsey has continued to split the reps with Penix as the latter’s status remains unclear.

“Just continue to progress and we’ll see where we are at,” Allen said. “Don’t know everything for sure yet, but we’ll continue to evaluate after we get everything done today and everyone gets involved and make a decision.”

Cronk update

Coy Cronk will have surgery to repair his injured ankle Friday in Indianapolis.

The senior left tackle is out for the season.

“The swelling had to go down a little bit. We were going to do it a few days ago but they needed it to get to that point,” Allen said. “Messaging yesterday back and forth, just staying in constant contact with him and his family … prayers to him.”

Battleground state

As a border state, there are also recruiting implications in a game like this.

There are only four current Hoosiers on the roster from Michigan, namely freshman receiver/return man David Ellis. But Allen (with the help of Michigan alum Mike Hart) is expanding his reach, with four-star receiver Rashawn Williams (Detroit), defensive back Lemuel Neely-Watley (Detroit), and offensive lineman Coleon Smith (Belleville) committed for the 2020 class.

“In the past, we’ve had so many guys from Ohio here, so the Ohio State game was such a big deal for that reason,” Allen said. “Now we’ve started more going to Michigan here in the last couple of years. … There’s no question you get to go to a young man’s home state and kind of show why he came here. And that’s what (Ellis) wants to do.”


  1. IU will get another chance to show if they are up to the B1G East schedule. If IU is to have a winning season IU has to play well against the Spartans. Coming out of this game 4-2 IU still has a shot at a winning season but coming out 5-1 will really set them up to have a winning season.

    I want to see the team and our DC to show they can go against B1G teams and get the job done. The offense needs to show they can generate points against a tough defense. Our STs need to show they can be a difference maker for this team.

  2. V13- Did you find an extra game?
    I think we’ve only played four games total thus far(Eastern Illinois, BSU, OSU, UConn). You found a “ghost win” somewhere. We’ll be caught not breaking a rule.

  3. Perspective: when looking at MAC conference football recruiting 2020 (not by espn) rivals
    Miami OH 17 = 3 Stars
    Western Michigan and Toledo = about 15 3 Stars each
    Ball State 12 = 3 Stars and ranks 6th in conference
    Ball State National ranked 92

    Indiana is playing in big ten east with their higher 3 stars plus a couple 4 stars

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