One year ago the Iowa Hawkeyes at 7-0 traveled to play the Michigan State Spartans. Iowa won as time expired with a seven-yard touchdown pass from Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi to wide receiver Marvin McNutt. Final score? 15-13.
This year the tables have turned and Michigan State is the undefeated visiting team. Last week, the Spartans fought back from a 21-3 deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the Northwestern Wildcats 35-27 and in the previous week, it also took a second half surge for the team to defeat Illinois, 26-6. Will the Spartans hold on this week?
Let’s take a look at the two teams.
MSU has a great running game with their three backs: Edwin Baker, Le’Von Bell and Larry Caper. The Spartans can also throw the ball and have a good receiving corp with B. J. Cunningham, Mark Dell and and Keyshawn Martin. Michigan State’s junior quarterback Kirk Cousins is having a great year going 141-for-212 passing (66.5 percent), 1,948 pass yards (ranked No. 19 nationally), 14 touchdowns, four interceptions, and a passer rating of 161.7 (ranked No. 12 nationally). He is currently the Big Ten’s No. 2 quarterback.
Iowa’s defense will need to be on its toes for this offense and although they haven given up 68 points in the last two games, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said earlier this week there are no plans for change this week.
Iowa will play their sole running back Adam Robinson (Marcus Coker is listed as No. 2) and its wide receivers include Derrell Johnson -Koulianos and Marvin McNutt. Iowa’s tight end Allan Reisner has had a great season and has 24 receptions for 268 yards (11.2 average) and two touchdowns.
On Iowa’s quarterback front, Stanzi continues to have a stellar final season. He has gone 124-for-182 passing (68.1 percent) for 1,732 yards, 16 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Stanzi ranks second nationally in passer rating (174.9) behind Boise State’s Kellen Moore. In Stanzi’s seven games to-date, he has eclipsed 200 pass yards in each of them with three touchdown passes in four games.
He is the Big Ten’s top quarterback.
Looking at the stats, the Spartans are giving up only 17.9 points per game, along with 332.5 yards. They’ve been solid against the run (119.0 yards) and average against the pass (213.5). They are tied for fifth in the FBS with 13 interceptions and tied for eighth in turnovers gained with 20. The Spartans have posted 18 sacks.
The Hawkeyes have allowed 15.7 points (ranked No. 11 nationally) and 297.1 yards per game (No. 13 nationally). Its run defense (92.1 yards per game) ranks eighth in the FBS and the team has 14 turnovers, including 10 interceptions with 12 sacks. Iowa’s defense was the last team nationally to allow a rushing touchdown this season, which came in the Michigan game.
Norm Parker, Iowa’s defensive coordinator, is rumored to possibly make an apperance at the game but he’ll be there as a spectator not a coach.
Iowa’s senior punter Ryan Donahue was named national Punter of the Week after averaging 60.5 yards on two punts against the Wisconsin Badgers. Donahue had punts of 50 and 71 yards and allowed no punt return yards. He is averaging 45.8 yards per kick on 29 punts in seven games to rank second in the Big Ten and 12th in the nation.
Iowa has struggled with its kicking game and will again let Mike Meyer take the reins as the place kicker. God I hope this kid practiced a lot this week.
Kick-off is 2:30 p.m.CT. Hawkeye fans will show their support by wearing black for the stadium’s Blackout. The game will be televised on ABC.
Yup, I’m picking Iowa for an upset this week.
About the Author
Written by Debbie Baratz