Five Things We Learned: Iowa-Michigan State

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The Iowa football team fell to Michigan State, 16-13 on Dec. 5.

By Charlie Green
charles-j-green@uiowa.edu

Spartans are physically superior

Both Iowa and Michigan State are programs that like to pride themselves on a physical style of play. On Dec. 5, however, the Spartans proved to be the better team in that facet.

In both depth and athleticism, their front seven stifled Iowa’s rush game, holding the Hawks to 52 yards on the ground. It was a long night for them in pass protection too, as tackle Boone Myers was repeatedly beaten off the edge by standout defensive end Shalique Calhoun.

Starting in the third quarter, Michigan State began holding onto the ball for long swathes of time, not scoring a ton but flipping field position and slowly wearing down Iowa’s defense.

Iowa’s offense couldn’t replicate that, and as a result its defense was gassed by the fourth quarter. All of this foreshadowed a back-breaking nine-minute touchdown drive by the Spartans that put the Hawkeyes away for good.

Iowa’s third-down offense needs (lots of) work in Bowl prep

In its last two games, Iowa’s offense went 3-for-21 on third down. And especially in the third quarter when it needed to most, the unit just couldn’t come up with plays to keep drives alive.

It turned out to be okay against Nebraska thanks to Tommy Armstrong’s four interceptions. Against the No. 5 team in the country, it proved fatal.

Even with the loss, a statement was made to nation

A lot of people have questioned whether this Iowa team belongs so high in the rankings. But even with Saturday’s loss, the Hawks played well enough to earn the respect of the College Football Playoff committee, so much so that they made the Rose Bowl for the first time in 25 years.

It was a heartbreaking loss no doubt, but players were slightly revived on the news they’ll be heading to Pasadena. Their performance on national television in the conference championship validated their worth to the country.

Poor punting hurts

Punting doesn’t get a lot of attention because, well, it’s punting.

But Iowa’s Dillon Kidd has been especially awful of late, and poor kicks against the Spartans gave up valuable ground in field position — which was one of if not the story of the game for Michigan State.

It’s definitely something to watch for when the Hawkeyes play a similarly physical-minded team in Stanford on New Years Day.

Players have much needed time away after long stretch

Thirteen-game seasons of a physically demanding game will take their toll on even the greatest of athletes. But now, Iowa football players get some time to rest and take their mind off of football before preparing for Stanford.

With finals coming up, the team gets much needed time to focus on school. And for running back Jordan Canzeri and defensive tackle Nathan Bazata, the extended break also means abundant time to heal up from injuries sustained against the Spartans.

Follow @CharlsGreen on Twitter for Iowa football news, udpates, and analysis.

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