Matchup: Spartan O vs Hawkeye D

"I think it'll be a tough environment there, very tough environment. They're a 3-5 football team, coming off a disappointing loss at Purdue. They'll be ready," MSU coach Mark Dantonio said about the Iowa Hawkeyes. "It's a very difficult environment to play in. Their backs are against the wall a little bit, so they'll be prepared."

EAST LANSING - Michigan State vs. Iowa. Great offense vs. great defense.

The game this Saturday in Iowa City will be a contrast in styles.

The Spartans have been (for the most part) an offensive machine. Players like Devin Thomas (all-purpose yards), Javon Ringer (rushing yards), and Jehuu Caulcrick (TDs) have been putting up career numbers.

Contrariwise, the Hawkeyes will work to maintain the defensive dominance (for the most part) that has characterized their play this season. Linebacker Mike Humpal leads Iowa with 82 tackles, and that's an understatement because the next closest is cornerback Adam Shada with 53 tackles.

The Hawkeyes play an attacking 4-3 defensive scheme that allows many players to be aggressive. So far, 19 Hawkeyes have made tackles for a loss and defensive tackle Mitch King leads the pack with 11.5.

The green and white offense will look to rebuild their confidence after managing only three points against Ohio State. Getting off to a fast start and neutralizing the crowd would go a long way toward a victory.

Keeping the front seven under control will be the primary task of the Michigan State offensive line. They are relatively healthy and after facing as talented a defense as they'll see in a while at Columbus last Saturday, keeping the Hawkeyes on their heels could be, by comparison, a more achievable task.

For the Spartans to win, they might do well to find a way to return to the efficient, tactical offense they employed against Indiana. Grinding out the ball against the Hoosiers in their most recent win, rushing 67 times for 368 yards while Brian Hoyer went 20-23 with no interceptions, with many of those passes targeted at Thomas on bubble screens, proved to be a devastatingly effective scheme.

Making it work against a stout Iowa defense would not only secure a bowl bid (something the Spartans have failed to do since 2003), it would also continue to establish and reinforce the notion that, under Mark Dantonio, these Spartans are different.


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