As those of you who listened to today's podcast (or even read the little blurb) know, I basically crushed that whole thing with probably my finest musical performance: a recitation of "Shoop" by influential rap group Salt-N-Pepa. It's better than anything you'e ever done, probably. Anyhoo, I'm still thinking about that song--how could I not?--and here's the deal. You know at the very beginning when Salt (or maybe it's Pepa) (or maybe it's Uppercase N) is all, "girls, what's my weakness?" and the other girls shout "men!" You remember that? Okay, what if she asked that question, but the group was really terrible at rehearsing, so they didn't know how to answer her?
Salt: "Hey girls, what's my weakness?"
Pepa: "Uh... fire?"
Pepa: "Gunshot wounds?"
N: "Lactose intolerance?"
Pepa: "A karate chop to the throat?"
Salt: "No, you fools, men!"
N: "Really? More than fire and snakes?"
Salt: "No, I'm just trying to tell people that I enjoy sex like crazy."
Pepa: "I'm just sayin', that's a bad way to phrase it."
N: "I hate this band. I'm going back to my old one."
Salt: "Guns N Roses is a stupid band name and you know it!"
So anyway, onto the preview.
News, notes, and news
Here's the two-deep. Obviously, the big news is that Jeff Tarpinian continues to be out; at MLB, Troy Johnson is listed as the starter with James Morris at backup. We'll probably be seeing plenty of Morris, in other words, and the fact that Jeremiha Hunter's listed at starting WLB doesn't mean he's 100%. Don't be surprised if Lance Tillison gets a substantial amount of playing time this weekend too.
Meanwhile, Michigan State gets the bonus of seeing Chris Rucker travel with the team; Rucker, you'll recall, violated probation by driving drunk--he wasn't even supposed to be drinking at all--and spent eight days in jail. As soon as Rucker was released from jail, he was reinstated to the team. Mark Dantonio has been mildly criticized for the decision. At any rate, Rucker won't start, so that means he'll play. It's a major boost for the Michigan State secondary and completely indefensible team management by Dantonio.
Keys to the Game
Well, Bob, I think the team that scores more points is going to take this game. Iowa has a distinct advantage in the trenches on defense, and if Troy Johnson can put in four quarters at MLB, the rush defense should be set. Kirk Cousins is a great passer, though, and his WR corps is one of the best in the nation, so if the Spartans get their offense clicking, it'll probably be through the air first. It's pretty safe to say Micah Hyde and Shaun Prater will be tested on Saturday, and so far this season, their results have been mixed. Not bad, but certainly at a lower level than Iowa's pass defense on the edges demonstrated last season with Spievey and Prater.
Similarly, Iowa's offensive line is going to have its hands full with Michigan State's front seven; the defensive line is disruptive but inconsistent, and the MSU linebackers are some of the best in the nation. If the Spartan secondary proves competent enough that MSU's linebackers can spend the entire game moving downhill at the Iowa line, we're going to see a few 3-and-outs from the Hawkeyes. Three or four scoring drives for Iowa in the whole game? Don't be surprised.
I think this one'll be a close affair. MIchigan State really isn't a top 5 team at this point; they're undefeated, but there are a lot of teams who'd have gone undefeated against that schedule. Iowa might be one of them. At Kinnick Stadium and with a suspect-at-times offensive line, Michigan State's rushing attack should be somewhat subdued (shut down, of course, is an impossibility). I still think Michigan State gets into the end zone a couple of times, but it probably won't be enough. I'm calling Iowa 20, MSU 17.