Michigan State Football: Spartans Will Exact Revenge on Iowa
Last year, the Iowa Hawkeyes blew out the No. 5 Michigan State Spartans 37-6. This year, No. 17 Michigan State will exact their revenge on the Hawkeyes. It would be perfect if the Spartans could blow out Iowa at the Kinnick Stadium, where they lost their chance at the Rose Bowl last year due to that loss.
This year, the Spartans have struggled on the road and they need to prove that they can play well in other stadiums, especially against Iowa who is playing their last home game and who beat out No. 15 Michigan last week.
Michigan State are now in the driver's seat in the Legends Division. There are five steps the Spartans need to perform in order to avenge last year's blowout loss and continue their path to Indy.
Stop Iowa's Points for
The Hawkeyes have scored an average of 31.7 points this season. The Spartans defense need to step up against the Hawkeyes. While the defense is ninth in the nation overall in points against, in the last three games they've allowed an average of 26.3 points a game.
To prevent another blowout like last year, the defense needs to help their offense in limiting the points scored by the Hawkeyes. Iowa has a balanced rushing and passing game. Last week, Michigan State allowed three passing touchdowns, the most passing TDs they've allowed this season.
Luckily on the road, the defense has only allowed three passing touchdowns and four rushing touchdowns this season. All of those rushing touchdowns and two of the passing touchdowns happened in their two losses, both on the road.
If the defense can limit their points for, even if it's just down to field goals, it would truly aid the offense in the game.
Run It, Run It, Run It
The Hawkeyes have allowed six rushing touchdowns at home, where the Spartans have yet to score a rushing touchdown on the road.
The Spartans have yet to find an efficient rushing game especially on the road where they averaged 67 yards a game. To help out Kirk Cousins and to spark up the offense, the running backs need to rise up. Iowa defense has allowed an average of 138.83 yards a game at home.
If the running backs can find a way to break through the defensive line and create explosive plays, the field position may help the Spartans drive to rack up the scoreboard.
It would also be great for Michigan State to finally score a rushing touchdown on the road. The Spartans need to push to find a running game in this matchup. It will help spark up the offense.
Stay Alert Kirk Cousins
On the road, Kirk Cousins only threw two passing touchdowns, an average of 221.7 passing yards and four interceptions. Iowa has allowed nine touchdowns, an average of 244.8 passing yards and caught six interceptions at home this season.
Cousins need to stay alert and not create any turnovers for the Hawkeyes, this goes for all offensive players. While Cousins struggled to get the offense going, especially in the end zone on the road, he needs to step up his game against Iowa.
Last year, Cousins threw for 198 yards in Kinnick Stadium and one touchdown. He also entered the game with four interceptions and ended up throwing three, one that was returned for a touchdown and another that became a short scoring drive.
Cousins need to keep his cool against Iowa if he doesn't want to end up committing the same mistakes as last year.
No Ill-Timed Penalties
Penalties happen. It is a rare for a team to perform none in a game. Michigan State accomplished that task against Wisconsin earlier this year. They have the discipline to limit the amount of penalties performed.
Last year, these ill-timed penalties is what killed them during the game against Iowa. A defensive player committed unnecessary roughness on a third down that took Iowa from Iowa 44-yard line to MSU 41-yard line. On offense, a holding penalty and two false starts were committed on first down.
One holding penalty was committed on a second down which sent the Spartans from being two and ten at Iowa 41 to being two and twenty at MSU 49. One penalty can greatly change a field position and can change a possible field goal range.
The Spartans need to limit the ill-timed penalties or at least try to perform what they've already done before: no penalties. These Spartans know from their losses that mistakes often kill success.
Special Teams Step It Up
Against Minnesota, the special teams is what saved the game for Michigan State. Spartan punter, Mike Sadler placed four of his five punts inside the 20-yard line. The coverage on Minnesota on the punt was well done.
The returners for the Spartans gave their offense great field position. They returned five kickoff returns for 115 yards and one punt return for 11 yards.
The special teams need to step up and limit Iowa's returns. It will give the defense strong confidence the further Iowa is down the field. They also need to give spectacular returns on their own to help the offense move down the field and hopefully have a scoring drive.
Michigan State has struggled on the road and this will be a true test to see if the Spartans has what it takes. Beating Iowa at home will be a great confidence booster and will get them another step closer to playing in the Big Ten Championship in Indy.