Iowa at MSU Preview
East Lansing, MI - Iowa is hardly playing like a perfect team. Its record book, however, won't pass judgment.
The seventh-ranked Hawkeyes look to win eight straight games in a single season for the first time in their 120-year history as they visit Michigan State in a Big Ten matchup Saturday night.
Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made Michigan State -1 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 81% of bets for this game have been placed on Michigan State -1 (View College Football bet percentages).
Placing sixth in the first BCS standings, Iowa (7-0, 3-0) is in the driver's seat for the conference title and a BCS bowl berth.
The Hawkeyes have won their first seven games for the first time since 1985, when they went 10-1 before a loss in the Rose Bowl. Iowa has never won eight straight in a season, but it did win all seven of its contests in 1921 and 1922.
With 11 consecutive victories dating back to last year, the Hawkeyes have the second-longest winning streak in the nation after Florida's 16 in a row.
But Iowa's success hasn't come easy, needing gritty efforts to win each of its last three games. The Hawkeyes were in a tie game going into the fourth quarter at Wisconsin last Saturday before winning 20-10.
Iowa won its previous two games by a total margin of five points.
"We've been down before," tight end Tony Moeaki said. "We've overcome some things."
The Hawkeyes have used a stout defense and a plus-11 turnover margin to overcome several significant injuries, holding six of their seven opponents under 18 points. They don't have a dominant running attack or a flashy passing game, ranking ninth in the Big Ten in total offense
"We're certainly not the prettiest car in the lot," Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz said. "But that's OK. We're having a lot of fun."
Moeaki has stepped up recently to give quarterback Ricky Stanzi a big target.
He caught the game-tying score early in the third quarter versus the Badgers and made another impressive grab to set up a field goal in the fourth. The senior has nine catches for 160 yards and three TDs in his last two games, and has scored four times on the season.
Michigan State (4-3, 3-1) has given up 15 touchdown passes this year, but it has a total of 12 sacks in winning its last three games. The Spartans have bounced back from a three-game skid that made them appear unlikely to have a chance in the Big Ten race.
Instead, they can grab at least a share of the conference lead with a win Saturday.
"We've battled back from a 1-3 start, and that's not easy to do," Spartans coach Mark Dantonio said. "We've kept our head up and persevered through things. If there's any lesson there, that's the lesson that you learn - stay the course and keep a positive attitude and things will turn out."
Michigan State's run includes a 32-17 win over then-No. 22 Michigan on Oct. 3, but a matchup with the Hawkeyes will be its toughest test yet.
"Iowa right now is playing as the best team in the Big Ten," Spartans quarterback Kirk Cousins said. "They're going to come here and have to go through us, obviously. We expect a great game from them. We're going to have to play better than we've played any week this season in order to have an opportunity to beat them."
Cousins completed 21 of 31 passes for 281 yards in a 24-14 win over Northwestern last Saturday.
Blair White caught both of Cousins' TD passes in the third quarter, and finished with career highs of 12 catches and 186 yards. He has been a big-play threat all season, making 45 receptions for 635 yards and six TDs.
White was held to three catches for 38 yards against Iowa on Oct. 4, 2008, but Michigan State won 16-13.
The Hawkeyes lead the series 20-18-2 but have lost four straight in East Lansing since a 21-7 win in 1995.
Posted: 10/20/09 4:45PM ET