By Brendan Stiles
To get you all ready for Saturday’s game between Iowa and Michigan State, I put together a list of things you ought to know before these two face off at Spartan Stadium.
At the end, I’ll provide what I think are three keys to an Iowa victory.
Iowa Hawkeyes (3-2, 1-0) at Michigan State Spartans (4-2, 1-1)
Spartan Stadium; East Lansing, Mich.
Oct. 13, 2012
11 a.m. Central
TV: ESPN (Dave Pasch, Brian Griese, Jenn Brown)
Radio: Hawkeye Radio Network (Gary Dolphin, Ed Podolak, Rob Brooks)
Weather: 58 degrees, thunderstorms
Brendan’s Three Keys to the Game:
1. Short passing on first and second down
If Iowa’s going to have any chance of moving the ball successfully on Michigan State’s defense, it needs to be able to pick up positive yardage on first and second down so it can avoid third-and-longs. One thing that might prove effective here is the short passing game. For one, it could allow quarterback James Vandenberg to get into a rhythm and two, the Spartans were susceptible to screens early on against Indiana last weekend. Add in the fact that rain is expected in the forecast, and short passing could essentially be a second layer of a running game for the Hawkeyes.
2. No long runs from Bell
Le’Veon Bell is going to get a boatload of carries Saturday. Michigan State is going to want to run the football and have success doing so. If Iowa’s defense can limit the number of long runs Bell breaks off and hold him to say a 2-3 yard average per carry, then pressure will be placed on Michigan State’s passing game, which is missing a key piece this week in tight end Dion Sims. Limit Bell’s production and Iowa has a chance. Allow him to break off multiple 15-20 yard runs or longer, and the Hawkeyes are going to be in trouble.
3. Come out sharp from the start
To the Hawkeyes’ credit, they have scored on their opening possession in every game thus far in 2012. That needs to continue Saturday if they’re going to leave East Lansing victorious. Last year, Michigan State came out swinging at the start and Iowa wasn’t able to counter. With this being Iowa’s first true road game this season, the Hawkeyes can’t afford to fall behind early on, or what’s going to happen is the offense will be limited in what it does, which would also lead to the defense wearing out late in the game. Iowa has to be able to come out swinging from the start and be consistent with whatever does work for it early on.