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Monday, October 19, 2009

Last Week/This Week

Last Week = W/24-14 over Northwestern

Beating a solid NU team at home is just what the doctor ordered for the Spartans confidence heading into a big matchup with Iowa. Allowing Michigan to take them to overtime, and beating a clearly awful Illinois team, was probably not doing enough to boost this team's expectations. Beating a Wildcats team whose QB, Mike Kafka, had 291 passing, and had looked good in their last Big Ten game in West Lafayette, certainly did what the two prior wins could not.

In what was clearly a battle of two halves, MSU's passing game is what took center stage in the latter. After going down 7-0 in the first half, two long touchdown passes to Blair White, one of 22 yards, and the other of 47, really got MSU going in the third quarter. MSU's running game also looked a lot better this week, as neither of the team's primary rushers, true freshmen Larry Caper and Edwin Baker, fumbled the ball. Each of those two also averaged 3.9 and 3.8 yards per carry respectively, helping open things up for Kirk Cousins in that decisive second half.

This Week = vs. Iowa, @ 7pm - Big Ten Network

It certainly didn't look like it was a possibility at the beginning of the season, but MSU has now set themselves up with the chance to make a Big Ten title run. That run will hinge on a victory every week, but the huge test as to whether the Spartans are even worthy of that discussion is going to take place this Saturday in East Lansing.

Iowa comes in having some impressive victories, but some mind-boggling struggles as well. Great road wins at Wisconsin and Penn State are slightly marred by home struggles against FCS member Northern Iowa and Sun Belt team Arkansas State. To say the Hawkeyes are tough to figure out is an understatement, but the leadership of quarterback Ricky Stanzi cannot be questioned. His sub-60% completion percentage, and 11-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio isn't perfect, but he doesn't make the killer mistakes that cost his team the game in crunchtime. Adam Robinson has also looked good as a true freshman, getting playing time due to the injuries of a few ahead of him on the depth chart at the beginning of the year.

If MSU is to win this game, it'll have to be in the air. Iowa's defense is more stout than others, but Kirk Cousins has the weapons at wide receiver and tight end to confuse the Hawkeye secondary. Players like Tony Moeaki might give Greg Jones and the MSU defense fits, but Chris L. Rucker's inspired play recently will certainly help on the defensive end of things. The night crowd will probably be pretty pumped as well, so there will definitely be no lack of adrenaline on the Spartan sidelines.

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