#5 Michigan State-#18 Iowa: Brutally Honest Game Preview

msu-football

One thing I have always wanted to see in my lifetime is a season where Michigan State football is REALLY good. Not 1999's 10-2, Citrus Bowl winning good, but actually a player on the national scene. Like they are in basketball. I also haven't fulfilled my lifetime dream of singing a duet with a Muppet, but that's another story.

Biggie "somehow your words just hypnotize me" Munn and Duffy Daugherty
coached the East Lansing school to five national titles during a 15
year span (1951-1966). So they have history. Especially that 1966 team
with their "KILL BUBBA KILL" chant, glorifying all-world defensive
lineman Bubba Smith; probably the most iconic player in Spartan football history.

And this Saturday, State will play in the de facto 2010 Big Ten
Championship game. Because if they win at Iowa, the undefeated season is
there for the taking. Sure, they could get caught napping at home
versus Purdue in a couple weeks, but it's not likely. Basically, win and
they're eventually in. Time for MSU to "Push it to the limit. Limit!"

With the mess of the BCS b.s. on top of them, #5 Michigan State gets to the title game by running the table.

msu-dance-team-sparty

Michigan State synopsis: Head Coach Mark Dantonio, who returned to the sidelines last week with a newly found sense of comedic styling and timing, if this team's star.

This matchup features two great defensive lines. As good as the DLs
are at Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin and Illinois, I think these two
teams have the best units in the conference. State had 8 sacks of Dan
Persa last week and "he's quite wily, keeps escaping (meant to be said
in Dr. Evil voice)" Against a more straight-drop and stand-up passer,
Jerel Worthy, Tyler Hoover and company would have had 12 or 13 sacks.
They bring more pressure than a Glengary salesman and that's a big
reason that MSU is 18th in pass efficiency defense (108.28), despite
having a mediocre at best secondary.

iowa cheerleaders

Iowa Synopsis:Vegas
has the Hawkeyes as a 6.5 point favorite even though they're ranked 13
spots lower than the Spartans. I guess they believe the Hawkeyes are
going to have a huge chip on their shoulder this week after adding
"utilize terrible clock management to blow a key game that derails your
high expectations season" to their bucket list.

On the offensive side, QB Ricky Stanzi is second (174.88) and MSU QB Kirk Cousins
is 12th (161.7) in the nation in passer rating. Both were named to the
16 deep Davey O'Brien Award semifinal list; honoring the nation's top
collegiate quarterback. Here are some stats to show you how close this
game really is:

Iowa is fifth nationally in turnover margin (+1.29) and Michigan State is ninth (+1.13).

Iowa ranks 11th in scoring defense (15.7) and Michigan State is 18th (17.9).

Iowa is third in passing efficiency (172.93) and Michigan State is 11th (162.89)

Iowa ranks 18th in kickoff returns (25.0) and Michigan State is 14th
in punt returns (14.5). In the Big Ten, MSU is first in punt returns and
Iowa is second.

Iowa also ranks eighth in rushing defense (92.1) and 13th in total defense (297.1)

Guys you'll see Saturday eventually playing on Sundays:

For State, Greg Jones
could be the first inside linebacker taken next April. Of course, no
one knows these days where ILBs will go in the NFL. I also like the
potential of WRs Mark Dell and both the tailbacks. Maybe. Defensive Tackle Jerel Worthy could be a top 5 pick in 2012.

Iowa- I've seen scouts high on Stanzi. DE Adrian Clayborn should be a top 5-10 pick. DT Karl Klug could be a mid round pick, likewise for lineman Cristian Ballard, safeties Tyler Sash and Brett Greenwood
Wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and yes even the punter Ryan
Donahue look NFL quality as well. Iowa running backs always seem to end
up at the next level so Adam Robinson should be no exception.

Prediction to be taken with a grain of salt (actually make that a whole truckload of salt):

Iowa 21, MSU 19 (Banks' 2010 record 11-3)

I predicted Michigan State would be the Big Ten sleeper team back in
the preseason. Last weekend,  I predicted State would beat Northwestern
28-27, and with less than a minute to play that prediction was exactly
true to the number (before Edwin Baker inexplicably scored an
unnecessary touchdown). Therefore, I need to go with my gut here again.
Actually I lost my gut, a casualty of my 2010 weight loss partially
inspired by my failed engagement (hey, if you're going back on the
market why not do it with less 35 pounds!) so I'll just have to go with
my head.

The heads brings up how Iowa has not lost at home to MSU since 1989, and they've taken three out of the last four in the series.

Remember the movie "American Pie," the high school state choir competition taking place at MSU?

"Do you believe in magic?..scooby dooby do bah." Actually I don't.

I believe Iowa will be really angry at themselves for blowing it last
week at home versus Wisconsin. I believe they won't let it happen
again, and I believe State is going to have a lot of trouble running
against that ferocious Iowa front. Sorry Spartans, magical season or
not, I guess no one from the Big Ten is playing for a national title
this year.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest webzine. He is also a regular contributor to the Tribune's Chicago Now network, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank

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