Oct. 11, 2012
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IOWA CITY, Iowa – As the University of Iowa football team completes preparations for Saturday’s Big Ten Conference clash at Michigan State, coordinators Greg Davis and Phil Parker know they will have their hands full as the Hawkeyes play their first conference road game of the season.
Michigan State (4-2 overall, 1-1 Big Ten) ranks as one of the top defensive teams in the nation, returning most of its key players from a squad that played in the first-ever Big Ten Conference championship game last season. The Spartans rank among national leaders in several defensive categories, including eighth in total defense and 10th in rushing defense.
Davis, in his first year as Iowa’s offensive coordinator, has never attended a football game at Spartan Stadium; Parker is returning to his alma mater. After completing his playing career as a defensive back for the Spartans, Parker also began his coaching career as a graduate assistant on the Michigan State staff in 1987.
“We had a good bye week,” said Davis. “And actually, you can have a bad off week, so it was good for us. Our last time out (31-13 win over Minnesota) we made improvements; continued to get better in the red zone among those improvements. One of the first things you notice about Michigan State is it returns eight starters from a team that played in the championship game.”
The Spartan offense is led by veteran Le’Veon Bell (6-foot-2, 244 pounds), one of the most physical running backs in the country. Bell has rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown in two career games against the Hawkeyes.
“The open week gave us a chance to get some guys a little rest and get a little healthier,” said Parker. “But we worked hard and are ready to go. Obviously, you have to stop the run first with Michigan State. He (Bell) is a heck of a back and they have won a lot of games when he gets going.”
Game time Saturday at Spartan Stadium is 11:01 a.m., CT (ESPN).