NCAA FB

Sat, Nov 19, 2011 - 12:00 PM ET
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Indiana-Michigan St. Preview

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Just in case any of his players have forgotten, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio has repeated the past few weeks that the 12th-ranked Spartans control their own destiny in the Big Ten Legends Division.

After Saturday, they may not have to hear that phrase for a while.

Michigan State can clinch a trip to the conference's inaugural championship game with a victory over lowly Indiana at Spartan Stadium and some help.

The Spartans (8-2, 5-1) hold a one-game lead on No. 17 Nebraska and No. 20 Michigan, which face each other Saturday. A Michigan State victory combined with a Michigan win would secure the Spartans' trip to Indianapolis, while a Nebraska win would leave MSU needing a victory the following week at Northwestern in order to clinch.

Still, Dantonio can't find it in his heart to cheer for the Spartans' biggest rival.

"Nope, sorry, I can't," Dantonio said. "We just have to do it our own way.

"We're in control of our own destiny. We're not going to worry about what goes on in another game right now. We have to take care of ourselves and not look to the right or left, but right down the middle. That's where we're looking - Indiana."

Michigan State put itself in solid position with a 37-21 victory at Iowa last week. Kirk Cousins, the winningest quarterback in school history who will be playing his final home game Saturday, threw for 260 yards and three first-half touchdowns.

Le'Veon Bell ran for 112 yards and a score as the Spartans compiled 443 total yards - their most in a Big Ten game this season. They may have a solid chance to eclipse that mark against Indiana, which ranks 107th in the nation (452.6 yards per game) in total defense.

The Hoosiers (1-9, 0-6) have yet to beat an FBS team this season, with their only victory coming against South Carolina State on Sept. 17.

They've lost seven straight since, most recently falling 34-20 at Ohio State on Nov. 5. Despite Indiana's poor record, Cousins noted the Hoosiers are coming off a bye and could be prepared to face the Spartans.

"They've played teams tough," Cousins said. "Any time you line up in the Big Ten conference you're going to be in for a battle. They're not going to treat us any differently."

Indiana has lost 18 of its last 19 Big Ten games and six of the last seven meetings with Michigan State. The Spartans won the most recent contest 42-29 on Sept. 27, 2008.

Still, Dantonio refuses to overlook the Hoosiers.

"We've become a little bit of the hunted team because we stand on top right now,'' Dantonio said. "There's a little added significance when people play against us, so we need to play big, and we need to understand that with where we're at, we need to respect each and every opponent.''

Indiana began showing improvement when coach Kevin Wilson made freshman Tre Roberson his starting quarterback.

Roberson has provided the Hoosiers with a dual threat, rushing for 275 yards over his three starts. He added 174 yards and a touchdown passing in the loss to Ohio State, though he took the blame for a costly interception in the fourth quarter that ended a late drive.

"We're growing every week,'' Roberson said. "We're getting better every week. It was a good game offensively and defensively. But we didn't come out with a win.''

Michigan State has won 10 straight home games against unranked conference opponents. It has won three straight versus Indiana in East Lansing, with the Hoosiers last winning there 37-28 on Nov. 10, 2001.

Tagged: Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Kirk Cousins, Tre Roberson

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