2011 Michigan State Spartans Football

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Michigan State Spartans @ Iowa Hawkeyes Football Preview



Getting back at an opponent is one thing; getting a piece of hardware is another. The Michigan State Spartans (7-2) may have revenge on their minds when they visit the Iowa Hawkeyes (6-3) on Saturday. They'll also have visions of a Big Ten Legends Division crown, which is what they really need to focus on.

Iowa handed Michigan State its only regular-season loss last year, a 37-6 pasting in Iowa City. The Spartans were ranked fifth in the nation at the time. Quarterback Kirk Cousins threw three interceptions in the loss. It's obvious that head coach Mark Dantonio will want to get things right this year in Iowa City. Sparty has benefited from the fact that it hosted Wisconsin two straight years under the Big Ten's realigned scheduling model, brought about by the switch from non-divisional to divisional competiton. The flip side of that benefit, however, is that MSU must go to Kinnick Stadium two years running. Championship teams need to pass tough tests, and so it stands that the Spartans' season might very well hinge on how it handles this mid-November crucible in the Heartland. Michigan State will reach the Big Ten championship game if it wins its final three games. The Spartans will also face Indiana and Northwestern, making this the stiffest November challenge for Sparty. Michigan State has not won at Iowa since 1989, meaning that MSU's path to Indianapolis (the site of the Big Ten title tilt) will be earned, not conceded.

Michigan State merchandise Last week, the Spartans needed a fourth-quarter comeback to overcome Minnesota, 31-24, in East Lansing. The Michigan State defense shut out the Gophers for the final 24:40 of the game, allowing the offense to bring the Spartans back. A 35-yard touchdown run by Le’Veon Bell with 10:58 to play was the game-winner.

The Hawkeyes, who lost to Minnesota two weeks ago, bounced back with a 24-16 win over 15th-ranked Michigan in Iowa City. The Iowa defense held off a furious comeback attempt in the final minute, aided by a couple of controversial calls by replay officials, to hand the Wolverines their second loss of the season. Iowa is still in the mix for the Legends title. A win would lift the Hawkeyes into a tie with Sparty, and if Michigan and Nebraska were to lose on Saturday, coach Kirk Ferentz's club would take the lead in the division.

Marcus Coker ran for 132 yards and two touchdowns in his team's win over Michigan a week ago. Coker, who surpassed the 1000-yard mark for the season, has run for more than 100 yards and two touchdowns in four straight games, and has scored 12 touchdowns this season. Marvin McNutt had his third straight 100-yard receiving game, catching nine passes for 101 yards against Michigan.

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By Matt Zemek
DFN Sports Senior Staff Writer


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