BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The No. 10/9 Michigan State football team improved to 7-0 on the season after defeating Indiana, 20-15, Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium to reclaim the Old Brass Spittoon.
Although the Spartans (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) were limited to 241 yards of total offense, MSU forced three turnovers in the game, including Cal Haladay’s 30-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter.
“This was a good, good win for us on the road,” said MSU head coach Mel Tucker. “Very tough environment. Indiana’s a well-coached football team, they were coming off of a bye, they were very prepared, we knew that. We were expecting them to be at their very best, actually better than what we’ve seen on tape cause we know that their coaches would have their guys ready to play, we would have to match that intensity and exceed that in order to get the win on the road, and I was very proud of our guys, our squad, and our coaching staff and our entire organization, the way everyone held in, held it together and continued to chop wood, and really throughout the game just kept pushing.”
Kenneth Walker III, the leading rusher in the nation, had 23 carries for 84 yards for the Spartans. Payton Thorne was 14-of-26 passing for 126 yards and one touchdown, while Jayden Reed had four catches for 70 yards.
Indiana opened the game’s scoring with a 24-yard field goal by Charles Campbell on its first possession to take an early 3-0 advantage, but the lead was short lived, as Haladay returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown to put MSU on top, 7-3, at the 4:33 mark of the first quarter. It marked MSU’s first interception return for a touchdown since Mike Panasiuk had a pick-6 in the 2019 Pinstripe Bowl.
Campbell drilled his second field goal, this time from 44 yards out, early in the second quarter (14:21) to trim MSU’s lead to 7-6. Midway through the second, Indiana drove to MSU’s 13-yard line, but the Spartans held the Hoosiers out of the end zone again and IU had to settle for its third field goal of the half from 25 yards away to take a 9-7 lead.
The Spartans went back ahead, 10-9, midway through the third quarter as Coghlin tied his career long with a 51-yard field goal.
Michigan State took advantage of Darius Snow’s first career interception on the ensuing IU possession, as the Spartans scored their first offensive touchdown of the day on a five-play, 39-yard drive. Tyler Hunt not only threw a 15-yard pass to Thorne on the second play of the drive, he also caught a 12-yard TD pass from Thorne for his first career TD reception to make it 17-9 with 1:49 remaining in the third.
Indiana scored its first touchdown of the game early in the fourth quarter on Stephen Carr’s 1-yard run, but Henderson made a huge tackle on Peyton Hendershot to stop the 2-point conversion short of the goal line, keeping MSU in front, 17-15, with 12:56 in the game.
The Spartans responded on their next drive, going 60 yards on 13 plays, capped by Coghlin’s 49-yard field goal, to increase their lead, 20-15.
Michigan State has a bye next weekend before returning to action on Saturday, Oct. 30 vs. Michigan in Spartan Stadium.
COURTESY MICHIGAN STATE ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS