The Capital One Bowl Game of the Week is a preview of a pivotal matchup featuring teams from the Big Ten and/or SEC that could impact the bowl picture.
#5 Michigan State (8-0, 4-0 Big Ten) at #18 Iowa (5-2, 2-1 SEC)
Saturday, Oct. 30 ï¿½- 3:30 p.m.
Kinnick Stadium — Iowa City, Iowa (ESPN)
Iowa leads the series, 21-18-2
Last Meeting: Oct. 24, 2009 (Iowa 15, Michigan State13)
Michigan State Outlook
Michigan State is the only remaining undefeated team in the Big Ten. Last weekendï¿½s contest against Northwestern was the Spartansï¿½ first out-of-state road game this season and they had to rally back from a 17-7 deficit at the half. Michigan State has had five comeback wins this year ï¿½ four of which were conference games. In two of those rallies, the Spartans utilized trick plays, including a fake field goal in overtime against Notre Dame and a fake punt to push them past the Wildcats last week.
Oï¿½Brien Award semifinalist Kirk Cousins leads an offense that averages 34.5 points and 448.8 yards per game. Cousins has passed for 1,948 yards and 14 touchdowns, nine of which have gone to his big play receiving corps of B.J. Cunningham and Mark Dell. Michigan State completes its dynamic offense with the running duo of Edwin Baker and Leï¿½Veon Bell who have combined for 1,353 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground. The Spartans have had at least one player earned the conferenceï¿½s Player of the Week honor every week this season including three following the contest against Northwestern. Bell has been named Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice this season.
Quarterback Ricky Stanzi, another Oï¿½Brien semifinalist, has posted impressive passing numbers this season with 1,732 yards, 16 touchdowns and just two interceptions while his 263.1 red zone efficiency is the highest in the country. Wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos has caught eight of those touchdown passes and has totaled 497 yards this season. Against Michigan, he broke Iowaï¿½s career record for receiving yards with 2,274 (now 2,437 yards) and is one reception away from owning the record for receptions (156). Adam Robinson has emerged from an injury-plagued platoon of backs to be a work horse, rushing for 737 yards and nine touchdowns.
Iowa is allowing just 15.7 points and 297.1 yards per game, and its run defense is eighth in the nation giving up only 92.1 yards per game. In the early weeks of the season, Iowa held opponents to 227.5 yards per game. Through three conference games, however, the Hawkeyes have given up 390.0 yards per game (including 522 yards against Michigan), and 28+ points in their last two contests (28 in the win over Michigan and 31 in the loss to Wisconsin.)
Impact on Bowl Picture
A Michigan State win over Iowa could lead to a Big Ten title and a possible Rose Bowl berth but the Spartans finish the season by hosting Minnesota and Purdue before traveling to Penn State, where they have not won since 1965. An Iowa victory could force a three-way tie for the conference lead with Michigan State, Wisconsin and the winner of the Nov. 20 Ohio State at Iowa game.
These two teams have switched roles since the 2009 season. Iowa entered last yearï¿½s contest without a loss and were projected to win the Big Ten but suffered two back-to-back losses late in the year to Northwestern and Ohio State. This year, the Spartans enter as the conference frontrunner in late October and are hoping to avoid the same fate as the 2009 Hawkeyes.