The Big Ten Championship Game will showcase two programs that are mirror images of themselves. Michigan State and Iowa come in with the same philosophy, same style, and same recipe for success. When looking at the statistics, they're all tight.
A major difference between the Spartans and Hawkeyes is that Mark Dantonio's ball club has been here before. For many on the roster, it will be their third trip to Indianapolis to compete for a Big Ten Championship. The setting will be familiar for them.
For the Hawkeyes, it could be an eye-opener. They have not advanced to the conference title game since the league separated into two divisions. The setting in Lucas Oil Stadium will be new for them.
Iowa players are aware of the contrast in experience.
"I don't know (if that's an advantage for them)," Hawkeye quarterback C.J. Beathard said. "I've never been there so I don't know what it's like. I might be able to tell you after this year."
"It's tough to say (on if it will be an advantage for them)," Iowa defensive lineman Parker Hesse commented. "We'll see on Saturday. Their quarterback and their offensive line are very experienced. It'll be a challenge for us. On paper it sure sounds like an advantage."
"Yeah, that is an advantage for them," wideout Tevaun Smith shared. "They're not going to be out of their comfort zone. They're comfortable being there. But we can use that to our advantage iff they're too comfortable. We'll come out as hard as we can and it'll be a great game."
Though they realize Michigan State could have the upper hand in terms of knowing what to expect when they arrive in Indianapolis, the Hawkeyes are not worried about being rattled about the raucous environment.
"No, I'm not worried (about the atmosphere)," Beathard stated. "It'll be different. It's in Indianaplis and for the Big Ten title. We know that. We just have to approach it like every other game. We have to stay focused and be mentally ready."
"I expect a lot of Hawkeye fans," center Austin Blythe pointed out. "It'll be a good experience for all of us. None of us have that experience. It'll be a memory."
"Once the ball kicks off, it's a football game," Hesse explained. "Whoever is prepared and comes to play will take care of business."
"We have played in a lot of big games," fullback Macon Plewa discussed. "Coach has been stressing that it's just another game. We're doing the same preparation. You can't be overwhelmed and have an out-of-body experience. We want to fall back on our preparation, fundamentals, and attack it like every other game."
One advantage that the Iowa signal caller shared was the fact that the game will be played indoors. As a quarterback, he's excited about not having to deal with the weather elements this weekend.
"I've never played in a dome," Beathard pointed out. "I think it's an advantage for quarterbacks. I like playing in nice weather. When outdoors, it's cold. We've had cold games and it's been snowy and icy. As a quarterback, I like to be in the warmth with no wind. That's preferable."