Spartans want to spoil Hawkeyes homecoming

Two first year starting quarterbacks - a phenomenon that's being seen all over the conference - will occur again this Saturday at noon when Iowa's quarterback Drew Tate faces off against the Spartans sophomore signal caller Drew Stanton.

WHAT: MICHIGAN STATE (2-2) VS IOWA (2-2)
WHERE: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, Iowa
WHEN: 12:10 PM EST, TELEVISED: ESPN PLUS
LAST MEETING: MSU 20, Iowa 10 (Sept. 27, 2003)
ALL TIME: Iowa leads 18-17-2

(DETROIT) - Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz is beginning to hear the grumbling of fans discontented with back-to-back drubbings at the hands of Arizona State and Michigan.

Ferentz, who led the Hawkeyes to a school record eleven wins in 2002 and was named Walter Camp and AP coach of the year for his accomplishment, is hoping he can get things turned around in time for the arrival of the Michigan State Spartans on Saturday.

"We competed better and prepared better (against Michigan)," Ferentz said at his weekly press conference. "That being said, we obviously didn't play well enough to win. I think the mistakes and the key point of the game were pretty well documented on Saturday. We just didn't do enough things well. We're going to have to continue to reduce penalties and turnovers. If we can do that right there, that will help an awful lot."

A former NFL offensive line coach with the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens, Ferentz is stung by the fact that the Hawkeyes can't run the football.

"We haven't had a lot of clean holes," he said. "We've been down that road before too. We had a ton of clean holes in 2002, and that's why most of those guys are in the NFL right now. We're at that point and I think we have to realize, that we're not at the point we were at in 2002. We're not built that way. I do think we're going to improve."

For the Spartans, head coach John L. Smith believes the Spartans have a road win in them. He just think MSU has to play better and smarter than they did a week ago in a road win against Indiana.

Two first year starting quarterbacks, a phenomenon that's being seen all over the conference will occur again when Iowa's Drew Tate faces off against the Spartans Drew Stanton.

Smith has grudgingly turned to sophomore Drew Stanton as his starter.

"I think he's getting a lot more confident on the knee without a doubt," said Smith of his starting quarterback. I think every day, every week [his confidence] grows. He's putting that out of his mind. Anything he does to favor that is all subconscious. He still has to get rid of some of that because I don't think he's planting and throwing off of it the way that he can. I think that has to develop a little bit but I think it is getting better."

Ferentz is looking for Tate to reduce the mistakes, so far he's thrown five interceptions.

"In Drew's case specifically, he's really shown enough where I think we're alright with the mistakes he's going to make. And he's going to make some. Considering what he's been through the last two weeks, he's probably not going to have it any tougher in his career. And the way he's handled it, I admire what he's done."

WHEN IOWA HAS THE BALL:
Michigan State will have to keep an eye on Iowa tight end Tony Jackson. Jackson had a great game in Iowa's loss to Michigan catching 4 balls for 61 yards.

"The bottom line is that he made some fantastic plays out there. That was really great to see. That was a positive. To get the tight end really involved in our offense really helps us. That's one of the solutions to our problem: to spread the ball around and get it to more people. It was great to see that, and he made some tough catches."

With their top two running backs out for the season, Iowa will have a running back by committee setup using starter Jermelle Lewis (54 carries for 151 yards) and junior Marques Simmons (3 carries for 51 yards) who started the season fourth on the depth chart. "We plan on playing him against Michigan State," Ferentz said of Simmons, "and we're going to have to write in ink how we're going to do it - to make sure he gets in there a little bit. I think he's earned that right.

Look for MSU to pressure Tate, hoping to re-create his penchant for bad decisions under pressure. Ball hawking safety Jason Harmon could add to his interception total.

WHEN MICHIGAN STATE HAS THE BALL:
The Hawkeyes will try to keep MSU quarterback Drew Stanton in the pocket. Look for Iowa to crowd the line of scrimmage and make Stanton beat them with his arm. Stanton will look to receivers Matt Trannon and Kyle Brown to beat press coverage and get past the corners.

MSU wants to avoid becoming one-dimensional and so look for them to run brusing freshman Jehuu Caulcrick between the tackles enough to set up play action for the Stanton. MSU's Smith wants to spread the ball around the field in the worst way, which is why he took so long naming Stanton as his starter.

MSU catches a break in that Iowa free safety Sean Consodine is out of this one with an injury. Consodine is one of the Big Ten's best safeties. Stanton will look to get big plays in his absence. Agim Shabaj could be a factor in this one with his speed if he can hang on to the football.

PICK: Iowa, after losing two straight has fallen out of the top-25 having beaten only Kent State and crosstown rival Iowa State. Michigan State has shown it has the poise to win on the road, having knocked off 2-1 Indiana last week and has won at Iowa City before. A true pick'em type game, so why not go with our guys

MICHIGAN STATE 24 - IOWA 21

FOOTNOTE: Michigan State's Dave Rayner was named Big Ten special teams player of the week for his performance against Indiana.


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