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No. 10 Spartans stay perfect with 20-15 win at Indiana

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Indiana

Oct 16, 2021; Bloomington, Indiana, USA; Michigan State Spartans quarterback Payton Thorne (10) attempts to keep the ball away from Indiana Hoosiers defensive back Bryant Fitzgerald (31) during the second half at Memorial Stadium. Spartans win 20-15. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Matt Coghlin’s 51-yard field goal to open the second half Saturday gave No. 10 Michigan State the lead and Payton Thorne’s 12-yard touchdown pass provided the margin the Spartans needed to hold on for a 20-15 victory over Indiana.

The Spartans (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) will remain atop the conference’s East Division at least two more weeks after reclaiming the Old Brass Spittoon.

And while this one certainly didn’t follow the usual script - Kenneth Walker III, the nation’s top rusher, carried 23 times for 84 yards and Michigan State punted its first six possessions - the Spartans still managed to hand the Hoosiers (2-4, 0-3) their third loss in four games.

Coghlin’s field goal on Michigan State’s first second-half possession made it 10-9 and Thorne’s TD pass to Tyler Hunt with 1:49 left in the third extended the margin to 17-9. Coghlin’s 49-yard field goal with 8:31 remaining sealed it.

Jack Tuttle started in place of injured Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. but the Hoosiers’ offensive woes continued. The Hoosiers thought they had finally scored their first touchdown against league competition early in the fourth - only to have it overturned on replay review.

Two plays later, Stephen Carr plunged in from 1 yard out to make it 17-15. But Michigan State’s defense stopped the 2-point conversion attempt.

The only first-half touchdown came on Cal Haladay’s 30-yard interception return - the first for Michigan State since the 2019 Pinstripe Bowl.


Michigan State: Last week, the Spartans cracked the top 10 for the first time since September 2015. Saturday’s victory may put them on the verge of matching their highest ranking (No. 8) in more than six years - just in time to take on rival No. 8 Michigan in two weeks.

Indiana: Maybe coach Tom Allen belongs on the CFP selection committee after a brutal first half schedule. The hard-luck Hoosiers have now lost road games to No. 2 Iowa and No. 7 Penn State and home games against No. 3 Cincinnati and the Spartans.


Michigan State: Has an open date before facing the Wolverines at home on Oct. 30.

Indiana: Hosts No. 6 Ohio State on Oct. 23.