How We See It - Iowa - MSU

Saturday will find Mark Dantonio and his Michigan State Spartans looking for another first under his tenure. A win over Iowa on the road keeps the Spartans at the top of the Legends Division going into the final two weeks of the season; a loss gives Iowa, Michigan, and Nebraska a second chance to head to Indy for the Big Ten Championship game. How do we see it?

In the 43-rd meeting between Michigan State and Iowa a lot is on the line. For the Spartans to stay on top of the Legends Division a win is a must, for Iowa, a win keeps them in the hunt with two weeks remaining in Big Ten play.

Mark Dantonio has accomplished a lot of firsts since being named head coach at Michigan State, a win Saturday gives the Spartans fifth-year head coach his road win over the Hawkeyes.

Michigan State Rush Offense vs. Iowa Rush Defense

Running the football starts up front and Michigan State has seen its struggles using four different starting combinations along the offensive line this season. Edwin Baker has struggled but still averages over four yards per carry. While Baker is always capable of getting a hot hand, look for Le'Veon Bell to get the early work. On the season Bell has 528 yards with a 5.2 yard per carry average at eight touchdowns. The Spartans average 130 yards per game and know they'll be tested by Iowa.

Iowa is only giving up 159 yards per game and 3.8 yards per carry this season. They will be ready to force the Spartans into passing much like they did a season ago. If this happens, Michigan State will be in for a long day. Edge: Even

Iowa Rush Offense vs. Michigan State Rush Defense

Iowa's offense is carried by running back Marcus Coker who has been a workhorse back for the Hawkeyes all season. Coker has 1,101 yards on the season with an average of 5.2 yards per carry. He will be hard to stop, but if the Spartans can keep him in check, they'll have a chance to come away with a win.

The Spartans defense has only giving up just over 100 yards on the ground per game with an average of 2.9 yards per carry on the season. This battle will determine the outcome of the game in our opinon. If MSU can stop Iowa's running game, and the offense build some solid drives, Iowa can be stopped. Edge: MSU

Michigan State Pass Offense vs. Iowa Pass Defense

Senior quarterback Kirk Cousins and the Spartan receivers must bring their "A" game for MSU to leave with a victory. The Hawkeyes can be beaten in the air if the Spartans can keep some balance to their offense. Look for them to pick on Hawkeye cornerback Shaun Prater who has seen his share of struggles this season.

Iowa is giving up an average of 233 yards in the air per game and 15 touchdowns. This is their weakness and the area MSU must attack. Play of the tight ends will be huge for the Spartans. Edge: MSU

Iowa Pass Offense vs. Michigan State Pass Defense

The Spartans defensive backs have been handy in getting their share of picks this season but Hawkeye quarterback James Vandenberg has only been picked four times this season. Vandenberg may not be flashy but he gets the job done. However, the Hawkeye offensive line has given up 19 sacks this season and that could play into the Spartans strength if they can force Vandenberg to throw before he's ready. What Coker brings to the running game, Marvin McNutt brings to the Hawkeyes passing game. McNutt can get a few catches but must be held in check from taking over the game with big plays. Edge: Michigan State

Special Teams

Iowa kicker Mike Meyer is 13-of-17 this season with his struggles coming from 40 yards and out (5-of-8). Dan Conroy enters the game 8-of-12 having missed two from 50+ this season. Conroy is a perfect 3-of-3 from 40-49 yards. Edge: MSU

Intangibles

It's been a long time since Michigan State won a game in Kinnick Stadium (1989) so the Spartans will have to get this monkey off their back. Iowa is always tough at home and this game will be no different. Edge: Iowa

Prediction

Both teams have a lot on the line in this game with the Spartans having their share of struggles the past two weekends. It is time for the Spartans to have a big game on the road this year and while we don't see either team lighting it up, a hard fought defensive battle might play into the Spartans hands. Michigan State 17-13 over Iowa.


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