Michigan State vs. Iowa Hawkeyes Scouting Report and Prediction

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Brett Swenson and Aaron Bates are Critical for a Big Win Under the Lights on Saturday.  Photo Courtesy of Bill Marklevits.

Brett Swenson and Aaron Bates are Critical for a Big Win Under the Lights on Saturday. Photo Courtesy of Bill Marklevits.



A look at this week’s opponent…

The Hawkeyes came into the season with some question marks. They have addressed them. I said prior to the season that I thought MSU and Iowa were so close (same as Wisconsin) that I gave the edge to the home team. After watching the Hawkeyes progress this season, you have to take a closer look.


The Hawks come in rated in the top ten of all major polls, and they sit squarely at number six in the BCS.


When MSU has the ball…

The Hawkeyes defense is good, but they are not the Steel Curtain whose colors they copied. The Spartans should be able to run, but there is one big difference. When you watched their game against the Badgers, because of the play action and tight end threat, RB Clay was able to make some yards.


I think the Spartans can learn from them. Blair White must get his touches, but I am convinced for the Spartans to have success against the Hawks, we need to see more from the TE. 


Last week Don Treadwell did a great job of lulling the Wildcats to sleep with Blair White. They used him often in the short and intermediate passing routes. Once the Cats started “jumping” (trying to prematurely cut him off), Treadwell went long with White. It was a great scheme and will work again this week.


The Hawkeyes have a good defense, but they also run essentially the same base as the Spartans. All of the work the Spartans did this spring and early in camp will benefit them.


The Spartans have to run the ball, and fortunately it is the core value of their team. I also believe that they can’t afford a slow start like they had against Northwestern or a letdown late (Michigan), as this is by far the best team they have played this year.


You have heard it said before (OSU 05’) that MSU “has to play perfect to win.” That is not the case Saturday. They have to play good, but perfection is not necessary for a victory. If they played this game ten times, I think both would win five.


When MSU is on defense…

The Spartans have to account for the Hawkeyes tremendous TE. They are also a power football team that will try to run the ball down the throat of the Spartans. You can’t stop the Hawkeyes running attack. Simply said, they are a lot like MSU and will keep doing it enough to gain yards. What you can hope to do is play with extra men in the box with a commitment to stop the run and punish their QB when he does throw.


Iowa will take their shots down the field, and when they do, MSU has to get to the QB and hit him. The Hawkeyes will get rushing yards, but the Spartans can’t let them grind out the big runs that sustain drives. Three-yard gains don’t bother me at all, it is when the first initial Spartan doesn’t make the tackle and guys get 5-7 yards.


They have to make the tackle at the point of attack, and against the Hawks short range passing game, keep the play in front of them. Simply stated, if the Spartans play sound technique true football, they will win.


The Spartans tackling will tell the story. If you see the Hawkeyes breaking tackles and the Spartans struggling at the point of attack, the Spartans will lose.



Will the Spartan fans show up? It will be cold and wet, but last week when it was sunny and noon over 4,000 (according to sources at MSU) didn’t show up. The Hawks have played in big time environments and I don’t think this Spartan Stadium can intimidate them. 


I also know that a packed and loud Spartan Stadium will do wonders for the emotions of our team. Sadly, the Spartan Nation had 2,000 tickets still available mid-week, and with a boatload of recruits in house, a less than packed stadium or booing from the crowd could be negatives. I know of one recruit who last week left shocked at the MSU fans booing their team. Love or hate the play, Spartans need to actually use their head and ask who is listening to that boo and what does it make them think of the Spartan Nation?


The Spartans need to get in the game early emotionally and keep their foot on the gas. Iowa is not going to play a perfect game and neither will MSU. Early success and not letting up will keep the Spartans in the game.


I fully expect a close heavyweight fight.



This will be the ninth night game in the history of Spartan Stadium. When those lights come on at the high cathedral of the Spartan Nation: Spartan Stadium the magic comes alive. The Spartans have a 7-1 record under those lights. The Spartans had a good week of practice and both QBs are healthy enough to play.


The staff is ready for this game and the mood of this team is ready for a heavyweight bout.  I waited to check the mood and temperature of the team and I truly believe if they played 10 of these games they both would win five.


Having said that, under the lights and gauging the mood of this team, I see Brett Swenson coming on the field and nailing a 46-yard field goal as time expires for a 23- 21 win.