The Prediction

HI Publisher Rob Howe previews this weekend's Big Ten Legends Division contest with Michigan State and picks the winner.

What, When, Where: Iowa football travels to East Lansing, MI to take on Big Ten foe Michigan State. Kickoff is scheduled for 11:01 a.m. CT Saturday, Oct. 13, at Spartan Stadium.

TV: ESPN will carry the game to a national audience with Dave Pasch, Brian Griese and Jenn Brown calling the action.

Hawkeye Huddle: The Huddle will be held from 9:30-11 a.m. ET at the Marriott University Place, 300 M.A.C. Ave. in East Lansing. Admission to the Hawkeye Huddle is free and includes cash refreshments, snacks, door prizes, cheerleaders and Herky. Visit for additional information.

Point Spread: As of Friday afternoon, Iowa is a 8.5-point underdog at the Caesars Vegas, down 1.5 from Monday's open there. Total was at 40 after opening off the board.

Iowa Trend: Hawkeyes are 1-9 Against the Spread in their last 10 road games.

Michigan St. Trend: Spartans are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.

Prediction: Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I don't think this breakdown is too complicated. Iowa likely will need to win by throwing the football (or be the beneficiary of MSU mistakes).

That's not to say that the Iowa running game will be completely shut down. Battering-ram Mark Weisman and a healthy Damon Bullock could form a dynamic, thunder-and-lighting combination. The offense line can block up the run.

It's just hard to envision this part of the Hawkeye attack winning the game, all other things being equal. The MSU defense ranks 10th national in stopping the run, allowing an average of 86.0 yards/3.0 YPC on the ground. Iowa is 66th in the country at 161.0/4.7 rushing a contest.

In addition, the Michigan State defensive scout is going to read: Stop running game, make QB James Vandenberg beat you. Eleven Spartans might be in the box.

Vandenberg and receiver Keenan Davis talked Tuesday about ironing out the passing game in bye week. We likely will see if that was the case on Saturday.

The Spartans have faced tougher opponents overall this season, as well. They opened the campaign beating Boise State and later fell to Notre Dame. Iowa lost to lowly Central Michigan at home two games ago.

Hawkeye fans probably can detect the end result of this prediction. While that might be the case, no way is this an un-winnable game for your team.

The Iowa passing game took a nice step forward in a 31-17 win against Minnesota on Sept. 29. Jordan Cotton has emerged as a viable third receiver and it seems like the coaches are more comfortable with the O-line's pass protection to allow super TE C.J. Fiedorowicz to run more (and deeper) routes.

Nobody should expect four-and-five receiver sets from Iowa to counter a stacked box. Much of Iowa's offense is about deception (play action) and setting up your opponent for the big play.

Expect a short, quick passing game - that can stretch some if need be - to loosen up the defense for the run and keep pass rushers from damaging Vandenberg. If they can achieve balance, that sets up the opponent for deceit.

I just don't know if Iowa has progressed enough to make the Spartans pay for shading things to stop run. It's made more difficult by being in a hostile environment where it can test a young team's communication in the passing game.

I still think this deal is going to be decided in the fourth quarter. MSU's rushing offense ranks 82nd nationally despite boasting a dynamic back LeVeon Bell. First-year starting quarterback Andrew Maxwell likely will need to make some plays to topple the Hawkeyes.

I'm going with the odds and picking the home team here in a game where the teams are a lot closer in talent than the preseason rankings may have you believe. I would not be shocked to see it go the other way.

Score: Michigan State 23, Iowa 16

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