A bowl berth seemed like a longshot for Michigan State a few weeks ago.
It’s now well within reach.
A victory against Indiana in their home finale on Saturday will give the Spartans (5-5, 3-4 Big Ten) enough victories to participate in the postseason. If they lose, they’ll have one more shot when they journey to Penn State the following weekend.
The Spartans have won three of their last four games, pulling out single-digit victories over Wisconsin, Illinois and Rutgers.
While qualifying for a bowl might seem to be the primary goal for his team, Spartans coach Mel Tucker doesn’t want to discuss the elephant in the room.
“We talked (Monday) morning about not really talking about becoming bowl eligible,” he said. “We’re just focused on playing our best game of the season, our best 60 (minutes) of complementary football, and focus on what it takes to be able to get what we want on Saturday. And that’s the process.”
Tucker’s aim is a simpler one.
“Our goal is to play our best football in November,” he said. “We want to finish strong.”
So far, so good. The momentum from the road upset of the Fighting Illini on Nov. 5 carried over to their victory over the Scarlet Knights, at least offensively. Payton Thorne threw for 256 yards and two touchdowns, while running backs Jalen Berger and Jarek Broussard combined for 165 yards on 27 carries.
Indiana (3-7, 1-6) will look to snap a seven-game losing streak. The Hoosiers had the misfortune of facing Penn State and Ohio State on back-to-back weekends and got pummeled each time.
It’s uncertain whether Indiana will go with Connor Bazelak, who has started most of the season, or Dexter Williams II at quarterback this week.
The Spartans have won 11 of the last 13 meetings with the Hoosiers. The winner will get the traditional trophy, the Old Brass Spittoon.
“Not every program has the opportunity to play trophy games and rivalry games,” Indiana coach Tom Allen said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to play for the Brass Spittoon, a trophy we’ve had twice since I’ve been here and they currently have it right now. Much, much to play for.”
–Field Level Media