"It's a tough man's game"

Michigan State prepares for head-on collision in the trenches with physical Iowa team in Iowa City on Saturday.

When Michigan State ventures into Iowa City on Saturday, the Spartans bring with them the best defense in the nation statistically.

Their counterpart is no slouch on defense, though. Iowa trails only the Spartans in total defense among Big Ten teams and haven't allowed a rushing touchdown.

It is little wonder with similar philosophies on smash mouth football and tough defense that three of the past six meetings between the two teams have yielded less than 30 total points.

Michigan State senior offensive guard Blake Treadwell said the Spartans know they are in for a physical game when they meet the Hawkeyes.

"Iowa is very physical," he said. "They've always been known for their toughness. They're not going to flash and bang you, it's straight up me against you, who's going to win.

"I think at Michigan State we embrace that and I think they embrace that, too, and that's why it's always a grueling battle that we look forward to."

The Spartans enter coming off a tough 17-13 loss to Notre Dame, but an offensive line performance that coach Mark Staten said was the best they have played in many years.

Senior offensive tackle Fou Fonoti said having some success against the big Irish defense was good preparation for Iowa.

"Those guys are big, physical guys and great players," he said. "With us going out there and putting out a good game in the trenches, it definitely is a good setting the tone for us going to Iowa because these guys are going to be tough and we are definitely excited."

Coming off the good showing, Fonoti said the Spartans know they will have to be at their best facing an Iowa team that takes pride in being tough.

"We definitely are taking to heart that we need to be on our best this coming Saturday because it's going to be a battle of the trenches," he said. "We gotta do everything we can. Being lower, getting our hands in there quicker. It's a great D-line, so we are excited to take on the challenge."

Staten said the Hawkeyes defensive line has made a dramatic jump in the second year under coach Reese Morgan.

"They do a great job with their hands," Staten said. "They do a great job of getting leverage. You watch their games and if they get leverage they win, the other team gets leverage, the other teams wins that particular battle."

Come Saturday, Michigan State will look to win those battles and know what to expect – a hard-fought physical game.

"It's a tough man's game," he said. "They know it and I know it. It's inches between your faces, they are right there.

"They love it. I love it. We will be ready and they will be ready."

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