The Iowa Hawkeyes faced a new challenge in week four as they opened Big Ten play with a road trip to Happy Valley and the Penn State Nittany Lions. They did not rise to the occasion. Instead, the Hawkeyes seemed to sleepwalk their way right through the buzzsaw. They came out of Happy Valley a splattering of remains against a wall.
Now the coaching staff looks to pick up the pieces and try to put something back together as the Hawkeyes play host to the Michigan State Spartans in week five. The Spartans come into the week riding a two-game losing streak after starting the year with a pair of wins against Central Michigan and FCS Richmond.
That really has been the story of the two seasons for MSU this year. In those first two games, the Spartans averaged 38 points per game while giving up just under 11 points per game. In the two matchups with power five opponents, the story has been flipped with Michigan State averaging just 8 points per game while giving up 36 points per game.
Which team will arrive in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday? It’s hard to know for sure, but based on the trends based on level of competition, it would seem like a good bet it’s the latter. That’s the way Vegas sees things as the Iowa Hawkeyes, despite the miserable showing in Happy Valley, opened as double-digit favorites as they play host to the Spartans on their first road trip of the 2023 season.
Saturday will also mark the first game for the Spartans since head coach Mel Tucker was officially fired this week after a sexual misconduct allegation took him off the sidelines earlier this year. Michigan State will be led by interim head coach Harlon Barnett with help from a familiar face: Mark Dantonio.
Here’s a quick look at the details for Saturday’s matchup.
Date: Saturday, September 30th
Time: 6:30 pm CT
Matchup: Michigan State Spartans (2-2, 0-1) Iowa Hawkeyes (3-1, 0-1)
Location: Kinnick Stadium - Iowa City, IA
Preliminary Weather Forecast: clear skies with temps in the upper-60s, 5% chance of rain
DraftKings Opening Line: Iowa -11.5, O/U 36
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
Saturday will mark the 49th ever meeting between Iowa and Michigan State. The Hawkeyes hold the all-time series lead at 24 wins to 22 for MSU with 2 ties in the series. Despite the storied history, this will be the first time the two programs have met since the 2020 showdown that was played without fans in the stands and will be just the second meeting between the two schools since 2017.
Iowa’s win over the Spartans in 2020 broke a three-game losing streak against Michigan State. It also marked the largest margin of victory for the Hawkeyes in the series at 49-7. That’s the second largest margin of victory in the series overall behind only MSU’s 56-7 win over Iowa in 1966.
Given the relative inactivity in this series of late, the Spartans haven’t won in Iowa City in a decade. Michigan State’s win over Iowa in 2017 came in East Lansing, while their 2015 win of course came in Indianapolis in the Big Ten Championship Game. Prior to that 2013 win in Iowa City, the Spartans win in Kinnick in 2011 broke a 7-game losing streak that dated back to 1989.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz is 8-8 all-time against the Spartans. However, he is 6-2 against Michigan State inside Kinnick Stadium.
Saturday’s matchup is set for a 6:30pm kick, marking the first night game in Kinnick of 2023. Iowa is 14-7 in night games all-time inside Kinnick and 8-3 in night games dating back to 2015. The game will be broadcast on NBC, marking the first time Iowa has been on the network since their 1986 Rose Bowl loss to UCLA. Coincidentally, the first ever Iowa game to be broadcast on national TV was a matchup with Indiana on NBC back in 1953. The Hawkeyes are 10-4-1 all-time on the network.
As we move toward kickoff on Saturday night here’s a look at the preseason predictions for this one.
Staff Prediction: Iowa Win, 80% of the vote
Fan Prediction: Iowa Win, 87% of the vote
BizarroMath Prediction: Iowa 24, MSU 14
Surely last week’s showing won’t change anyone’s views on this matchup, right?
Be sure to check back in throughout the week as all preview and postgame stories will be published to this stream.