On Saturday, the Iowa Hawkeyes will host the No. 13 Michigan State Spartans at 11 a.m. Sparty will try to dodge an eighth consecutive road loss to Iowa and erase the memory of last year’s 37-6 Iowa win.
MSU comes to Iowa in sole possession of the division lead with three games remaining. However, should Iowa beat Sparty AGAIN, the Hawkeyes will fall into a temporary four-way tie.
Let’s take a look at this week’s game.
Last week, Iowa’s defense held Michigan to 323 total yards. It was one of the defense’s better performances and many would say it won the game for Iowa.
The Hawkeyes has lost starting defensive end Dominic Alvis for the season and Lebron Daniel will take his place.
Michigan State’s defense is stellar, leading the conference in total defense and pass defense with a No. 2 rating for rushing defense, pass efficiency defense and sacks. On the national level, the team is in the top 5 with most stats.
Meanwhile, Iowa limps along toward the bottom of the conference with their stats.
Advantage: Michigan State
Running back Marcus Coker has averaged two touchdowns per game average in his last four outings–a total of 647 ground yards. He sits at the top of the conference with rushing yards, averaging 144.2 yards in conference play.
His rushing yards place him at No. 5 nationally.
Jason White is listed as the No. 2 running back but freshman running back Mika’il McCall is ready for action. If Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz can pull the trigger, he’ll be on the field Saturday.
Wide receiver Marvin McNutt had his third consecutive 100-yard receiving game (nine catches for 101 yards against Michigan). He is No. 2 in the conference for receptions and reception yards.
McNutt is one of 18 seniors who will play their final game in Kinnick on Saturday.
Michigan’s State wide receiver B.J. Cunningham had nine catches for 206 yards in his previous two games and comes in statistically right behind McNutt in the conference.
Sparty’s running back running back Larry Caper will return this week and is force to reckon with on third downs along with tight end Dion Sims.
Iowa’s quarterback James Vandenberg sits at No. 2 in the conference with 2,089 passing yards and 18 TDs. He has a slight edge over MSU’s Kirk Cousins, with his 1989 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Playing at Kinnick is always bittersweet for Cousins: his mom and grandfather are alums with granddad a member of the Iowa football brethren.
Hopefully this will get in his head. He is 0-2 against Iowa and I love saying things happen in threes.
If Mike Meyer has his head in the game, he’s a good field goal kicker. He’s at the top of the conference with a long kick of 50 yards. MSU brings Dan Conroy, who also has a long of 50 but he’s less accurate. Eric Guthrie has been nominated to a watch list as a top national punter.
Winner: Michigan State’s two losses this season have come from the road as well as Iowa’s. I love the Hawkeyes perfect home record but Sparty’s defense will be too tough to beat.
MSU wins, 21-17 but I do love an upset..
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Written by Debbie Baratz