As the Michigan State Spartans and Iowa Hawkeyes get set to square off in a Big Ten showdown this Saturday, many people are projecting the worst. Not that both teams aren’t talented or capable of putting on an entertaining contest, it’s that mother nature might interfere in a big way.
This matchup features two of the top-rated defensive teams in the country, so many were already counting on a low-scoring affair. But with Saturday’s forecast calling for an 80 percent chance of rain with 15-20 mph winds, things could get sloppy.
The good news for the Hawkeyes is that they rely heavily on their running game. Mark Weisman and Damon Bullock have carried the load all season and set up the passing game for first-year quarterback Jake Rudock. That will again be the formula for success on Saturday from Kinnick Stadium.
Taking care of the ball is important in any contest, but that will be especially true on Saturday. If things play out like most analysts are projecting, this contest isn’t going to light up the scoreboard. That means one turnover could be the difference between a win or a loss. Fumbles from the Iowa backfield will most certainly lead to the team’s second loss of the season.
Rudock and offensive coordinator Greg Davis will need to pick their spots to go the air and keep the Spartans honest, but fans shouldn’t expect much to happen down the field.
Normally, Kirk Ferentz‘s conservative approach drives fans crazy, but I believe that’s the way to go about things on Saturday. Iowa is designed to wins games like the one they’re about play in. Run first, take care of the football and play solid defense. That’s what Ferentz teams are built on and execution of that style should lead to a fifth-consecutive win for the Hawkeyes.