Iowa and Michigan State both suffered their first losses of the season last weekend, so both will be looking for a bounce-back win when the Spartans host the Hawkeyes in a Big Ten clash on Saturday. The Hawkeyes fell at home on a final-play touchdown against nationally-ranked Penn State, while the Spartans were blown out by long-time rival Notre Dame.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz is certainly looking for a better defensive performance this week after his team allowed 579 yards of total offense to the Nittany Lions last weekend. Offensively, the Hawkeyes struggled to move the ball, managing just 82 yards on the ground and 191 through the air, 70 of which came on a Nate Stanley touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter. The Spartans outgained the Irish by more than 140 yards but were hurt by three turnovers and nine penalties for almost 100 yards. Quarterback Brian Lewerke continues to impress with both his arm (751 yards, six TDs) and his legs (team-best 206 yards, two TDs), though the Michigan State coaches would certainly prefer if he wasn’t the team’s top ground gainer.
TV: 4 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Michigan State -3.5
ABOUT IOWA (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten): Despite having a hot quarterback like Stanley (conference-best 12 passing touchdowns), for Iowa to get back into the win column, it must get its running game going. Since the start of the 2015 campaign, Iowa is 23-1 when it rushes for 100 yards and 0-7 when it doesn‘t, which means Ferentz will need to keep feeding running back Akrum Wadley the ball and hope he gets hot. Wadley is averaging 4.3 yards a carry and has gained 338 yards this season, but he must be more consistent to give Ferentz confidence to keep the ball on the ground more.
ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (2-1, 0-0): Turnovers have been a big focus for the Michigan State coaches this week, and more than just the ones that have cost the offense the ball eight times so far this season. Running back LJ Scott has two fumbles inside the 5-yard line this season and Lewerke has given it away three times, but the defense hasn’t responded by creating turnovers of its own. The Spartans are tied for 125th in the FBS in turnover margin at minus-6, and the team’s defensive coaches have been preaching more and more that creating miscues by the opposition is a must for the team to be successful.
1. Iowa LB Josey Jewell leads the Big Ten in tackles with 44 and he’s tied for fifth in the conference with four pass breakups.
2. Lewerke had 396 yards of total offense (340 passing, 56 rushing) against Notre Dame, the fourth-highest single-game total in school history.
3. After ranking No. 1 in the nation in third-down conversion defense entering last weekend (3-of-28), the Spartans allowed the Irish to convert 8-of-14 third downs.
PREDICTION: Michigan State 27, Iowa 20