Michigan State vs. Iowa
Quietly, the Iowa Hawkeyes have turned their season around following an opening week home loss to Northern Illinois. The Hawkeyes have won their last four games, albeit against weaker teams, and have put themselves in position to start off 5-1 with a win against Big Ten Legends division foe, Michigan State. The Spartans visit Kinnick Stadium fresh off a bye week and a tough loss to Notre Dame in a defensive struggle in South Bend. Michigan State is entering a stretch of four winnable games that will most likely make or break their season – the Spartans do not play Wisconsin, Ohio State or Penn State.
Iowa’s recent winning streak has been based on three things: defense, defense, and running the ball with Mark Weisman. The Hawkeye defense has been getting better each week since getting torched by Northern Illinois in the opening week. Iowa allowed just 165 yards against Minnesota last Saturday and the Gohers never stood a chance. On the other side of the ball, Mark Weisman had another typical day at the office rushing 24 times for 147 yards. On the season, Weisman already has 119 rushing attempts; he had 159 all of last season. Quarterback Jake Rudock played very well against Minnesota and will need a big game in order for Iowa to score on the Michigan State defense.
Michigan State is still searching for answers on offense, which couldn’t be more opposite of things on the defensive side of the ball. The Spartans own the nation’s top ranked overall defensive unit and have shut down every opponent’s offense so far this season. Through four games, MSU is giving up just 188 yards per game. Defense is obviously not the problem in East Lansing. I saw a statistic that said if the Spartans had just an AVERAGE offense, they’d be ranked in the top 15 in the country. The problem is their offense is far from average. In fact, it’s downright awful. The biggest issue for the Spartans is at the quarterback position where three QBs have gotten a chance to win the job, with all three proving to be ineffective. If MSU wants to have any chance of winning on the road this weekend, they’ll need to figure out a way to move the ball through the air.
What will happen: Points will definitely be at a premium as the calendar turns to October and an autumn chill fills the air in Big Ten country. Two fantastic defenses facing off against two below average offenses. Two teams needing a win to solidify their position as a challenger for the Legends division title. When all is said and done, this game comes down to a big turnover and a defensive score.
Prediction: Iowa 16 Michigan State 13
The Play: UNDER 42
2013 ATS Record: 8-5-1