Scouting Report and Prediction: Michigan State vs. Iowa Hawkeyes
A look at this week’s opponent…
The Iowa Hawkeyes come in with a struggling offense and a solid defense. Sound familiar? This contest will be two teams going head to head. MSU is the more talented team, but will they play to that level or down? A lot of questions will be answered in this game.
When MSU has the ball…
The Spartans want to fix their running game. They are facing a good Iowa defense and with a much tougher schedule to end the season then start it, they see this as a big opportunity. Unfortunately, last week was the first time the Spartans passing game looked even close to acceptable. With the loss of Dion Sims and his return in question they have to get plenty of passing game reps in order to make sure that stays on the mend. MSU can’t reach the goals that they have without a better passing game or running game.
Look for MSU to fix the running game first. That is their M.O. and that won’t change. Iowa will do what everyone does right now and that is stack the box and force MSU to pass. MSU will keep trying to run and eventually have to go to the air.
I would love to see the Spartans use the pass to set up the run, but I am not holding my breath. I know that disappoints some of my critics. I think MSU scores against this D, but I am looking for a statement.
This Spartan team, if they head to Ann Arbor and play like they did against Indiana in defense or on offense against Boise, EMU, Notre Dame or Ohio State will lose. Period. This Spartan offense has yet to have a great game. I am looking for it.
When MSU is on defense…
Again, this side of the ball has yet to play their best game. I want to see them have a great game living up to expectations on this side of the ball. They should be able to get pressure on the Iowa QB and as usual this season the Hawkeyes will attack the MSU CBs.
The Iowa offense mirrors the Spartans. I think both teams benefit from having to defend all spring and summer/fall camp their offense. Statistically, the Spartans and the Hawkeyes are close. Realistically and talent wise, they are not.
Northern Illinois held Iowa to 18 points and Iowa State held them to six. Please don’t tell me that this Spartan defense isn’t better than those two stellar programs. I want to see domination. I want to see their best game of the year. Give the Spartan Nation a reason to get fired up for the Wolverines looming next week.
The weather won’t be eighty and sunny and that is good news. This will be Big Ten Midwest football weather and I love it. The intangible is simple. Who makes the least mistakes and will the Spartans look in the mirror and have the light come on?
Remember the rule of five. If MSU wins that, this game is over. For those who don’t remember it, it has to do with sacks and turnovers. If the Spartans have three sacks and give up two that means they are plus one. If they then get four turnovers and give up only one that means they are plus three. That would give them a plus four for the day. They want to get to a plus five ratio at least every game.
I am more dumbfounded by this team than any I can remember in my many years covering MSU. I saw the struggles of 2009, but not this. I wish I could type with certainty that the light will come on, but I can’t.
Do the Spartan play good enough to win, play down and lose, or does the light come on and they kick butt? No one knows. Dantonio admitted things are tough right now. He said, “We just need to continue to play through the storm. That’s sort of where we’re at. Right now we’re in a little storm. We were in a little storm last year at this time. Just play through the storm and weather the storm, whichever you pick.”
I think the Spartans win this game. They are so far ahead of Iowa talent wise and frankly as a coaching staff. With that I can’t and won’t predict a light coming on and this team having their game of the year, but I do see a win. If the Spartans lose this, their goals of a Rose Bowl are dead. Maybe not statistically, but realistically they will be out of it. Too much is on the line.
Make it MSU 21 and Iowa 10.