From Michigan State on Saturday, with 11 a.m. kickoff on ESPN, Iowa @ #24 Michigan State!
Iowa (3-2, 1-0 Legends, Big Ten) and Michigan State (4-2, 1-1 Legends, Big Ten) have faced one common opponent this season, with Central Michigan. Looking at that game will not lead one to believe this game in East Lansing has much promise. Our prediction on Saturday: Iowa 20, Michigan State 19, as the game looks very similar to the 2008 match up in East Lansing. Which offense will click today?
Michigan State (4-2 overall, 1-1 Big Ten) ranks as one of the top defensive teams in the nation, returning most of its key players from a squad that played in the first-ever Big Ten Conference championship game last season. The Spartans rank among national leaders in several defensive categories, including eighth in total defense and 10th in rushing defense.
Davis, in his first year as Iowa's offensive coordinator, has never attended a football game at Spartan Stadium; Parker is returning to his alma mater. After completing his playing career as a defensive back for the Spartans, Parker also began his coaching career as a graduate assistant on the Michigan State staff in 1987.
"We had a good bye week," said Davis. "And actually, you can have a bad off week, so it was good for us. Our last time out (31-13 win over Minnesota) we made improvements; continued to get better in the red zone among those improvements. One of the first things you notice about Michigan State is it returns eight starters from a team that played in the championship game."
The Spartan offense is led by veteran Le'Veon Bell (6-foot-2, 244 pounds), one of the most physical running backs in the country. Bell has rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown in two career games against the Hawkeyes.
"The open week gave us a chance to get some guys a little rest and get a little healthier," said Parker. "But we worked hard and are ready to go. Obviously, you have to stop the run first with Michigan State. He (Bell) is a heck of a back and they have won a lot of games when he gets going."
Game time Saturday at Spartan Stadium is 11:01 a.m., CT (ESPN).
Brian Ferentz Enjoys Busy Week
"It was a pleasant addition and she came at a pretty opportune time," Ferentz joked. "She was about three weeks early, but she must have known we were coming off a bye and I had a little time here. It's exciting and it's nice."
On the football field, Ferentz's young offensive line has steadily improved over the first seven weeks of the season. He is quick to point out that the sport he coaches is a team game, and the offensive unit needs everyone working together.
"Anytime you have some success as an offensive football team, whether it's throwing or running the ball, it's a team game," Ferentz said. "The key is 11 guys doing their job. We've been fortunate enough to be OK up front.
"We still need to improve and we have a long way to go in that regard," Ferentz said. "But if we get 11 guys on the same page, like we've had them, I think we have a chance to have some success."
That success can continue Saturday at Spartan Stadium. Iowa is coming off a bye week after a convincing win over Minnesota to open Big Ten play. Ferentz said the message during the bye week was pretty simple.
"Our focus was improving our football team," Ferentz said. "Getting better at the things we know we are going to be doing all season and for years to come. The key is improvement; working with some younger guys to bring them along, and getting older guys healthy and feeling better."
While the team was improving and working on fundamentals, Ferentz added that the bye week allowed the staff to get a start on preparing for the Spartans.
"You would be remiss if you didn't pick up a few extra days of preparation on your next opponent," Ferentz said. "It's a great chance to get a head start. We are excited to go out there and see the fruits of that labor."