EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State slowed Indiana’s quick-paced offense — both by stopping the Hoosiers and keeping the ball away from them.
Jeremy Langford scored four touchdowns, and the Spartans recovered from an early defensive breakdown to beat Indiana 42-28 on Saturday. Michigan State’s top-ranked defense played well for the most part, and the Spartans also dominated the time of possession, holding the ball for 37:28.
“We’re up in the press box, just saying: `Tick-tock, tick-tock. Let that clock run,”’ Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said. “I don’t look at stats very much, as you guys know, but the one stat I did look at when I came back up to the press box was 18 minutes time of possession in the first half. That’s huge.”
Tevin Coleman scored on a 64-yard run for the Hoosiers (3-3, 1-1) just 61 seconds into the game, but Michigan State took control shortly after halftime.
“Their first drive took a minute and one second,” Spartans coach Mark Dantonio said. “If you’re playing against Indiana, you’ve got to be able to keep that ball and you’ve got to make first downs.”
Indiana came in ranked No. 1 in the Big Ten in total offense, but Michigan State had the nation’s top-ranked defense.
Coleman found a hole up the middle and breezed to a surprisingly easy touchdown on the game’s first drive, but the Spartans tightened up after that.
“They’re very well coached,” Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld said. “If you beat them on one thing, they’re going to adjust the next time. We knew what we were getting into.”
Langford tied it early in the second quarter, catching an 11-yard touchdown pass from Connor Cook on third down. He later added three more TDs on the ground, becoming the first Michigan State player to score four in a game since Edwin Baker in 2010 against Minnesota.
Sudfeld went 14 of 30 for 137 yards, although backup Tre Roberson threw two touchdown passes for Indiana.
Cook went 22 of 31 for 235 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. His 34-yard strike to Bennie Fowler made it 14-7, although Indiana took advantage of a short field later in the second quarter after Michigan State’s Macgarrett Kings muffed a punt. Roberson threw a 3-yard scoring pass to Cody Latimer to tie it.
The Spartans took the lead for good on Langford’s 5-yard touchdown run with 37 seconds left in the half — which was a bit of a turning point since Michigan State was also getting the ball back at the start of the third quarter.
Cook threw a 39-yard pass to Josiah Price on third-and-11 early in the second half, putting the ball at the Indiana 5. Langford’s 2-yard touchdown run made it 28-14.
Michigan State’s maligned offense struggled to score earlier this season, and even in last weekend’s win at Iowa, the Spartans had to settle for four field goals along with their two touchdowns.
Against Indiana, they scored touchdowns on all three trips to the red zone.
“I think we heard what everyone’s been saying all year long. We got a little angry about it,” Cook said. “I think we made it personal this week.”
Langford finished with 109 of Michigan State’s 238 yards rushing. His 32-yard touchdown made it 35-21 with 3:23 left in the third quarter — after Shane Wynn had brought the Hoosiers within a touchdown with a 2-yard scoring run.
“I had games like this in high school, but that’s different,” Langford said. “This is D-I college football, the Big Ten.”
R.J. Shelton added a 34-yard touchdown run early in the fourth for Michigan State, and even punter Mike Sadler provided a highlight with a 69-yard punt that pinned Indiana at its own 4.
The Spartans retained the Old Brass Spittoon — they’ve won five straight against Indiana and haven’t lost to the Hoosiers at home since 2001.
“Started fast defensively, two good stops,” Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said. “Then they scored five straight times, really just got their balance going and kind of maybe took the air out of the football for us. A lot of credit to them. Mark has those guys playing really well.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.