When the two meet Saturday, something will have to give.
Spartans linebacker coach Mike Tressel said they better be ready to face a physical team that keeps its concept simple.
"Their offensive line, (running back Mark) Weisman, they seem to be hitting on all cylinders," Tressel said. "They're on the same page. They keep it simple. They understand exactly what they're trying to do."
When it comes to the experienced Spartans linebackers, facing the Hawkeyes presents a little bit of a different challenge.
Tressel said MSU will have to be focused on gap control and dealing with offensive linemen.
"I think they do a great job creating angles for their combination blocks on the O-line," Tressel said. "They always find a formation where they can get the combo to the second level, they can get a hat on the backer. They're gonna find a formation that is not gonna allow backers to run free and then as soon as one guy decides, ‘I think I can make this play slipping back door,' and he doesn't make it, all the sudden there are big plays happening."
Big plays have been a part of the Iowa run game as Weisman, the primary ball carrier for the Hawkeyes, has 18 carries of more than 10 yards per game – the fourth-highest total in the nation.
Tressel said the key for MSU will be having every player in tune with every play.
"Most of the time you're just gonna have to go hit it head on and know that somebody, if we all do it and all trust each other, somebody is going to make that play," he said. "You better have everybody doing it though. That's what they count on. They count on one guy not being assignment-sound and because it's zone football Weisman does a good job finding it."