By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The last time Iowa and Michigan State met on the football field is old news to University of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz. So is last weekend’s loss to No. 4 Penn State.
Ferentz says the Hawkeyes must move forward as they head to East Lansing, Michigan, on Saturday for its first Big Ten Conference road game at Michigan State. Game time is set for 3:12 p.m. (CT) from Spartan Stadium.
The last time the teams met, Michigan State’s L.J. Scott capped a 9-minute, 4-second, 22-play, 82-yard fourth-quarter drive with a 1-yard touchdown run that allowed Michigan State to win the Big Ten title.
On Saturday, it was a last-second, 7-yard touchdown pass that gave the Nittany Lions a 21-19 walkoff victory inside Kinnick Stadium, handing the Hawkeyes their first loss of the season.
“It feels like the (2015 game) was 10 years ago,” Ferentz said Tuesday at his news conference inside the Stew and LeNore Hansen Football Performance Center. “It’s so far back; it’s ancient history. Saturday night is the same way at this point.
“We have to move on and worry about what is in front of us. It’s a big challenge.”
Iowa and Michigan State’s rosters look different from the teams that met in the 2015 Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis. While the players have changed, the team characteristics are much the same.
“Michigan State has an identity and it has worked well for them,” said Ferentz. “My guess is when they threw our stuff on, it probably didn’t look a lot different and vice versa.
“The players have changed, there aren’t many guys left from the last time we played on either side of the ball for either team, but we kind of look like each other.”
Both teams enter Saturday’s contest coming off their first losses of the season. Michigan State fell to Notre Dame, 38-18, in East Lansing in a game where the Spartans out-gained the Fighting Irish, 496-355, but committed three first-half turnovers.
Michigan State’s offense averages 472.7 yards with quarterback Brian Lewerke leading the team in both rushing and passing. He has 206 rushing yards on 26 attempts and is 66-of-105 for 751 yards and six touchdowns through the air.
Defensively, the Spartans are fourth in the Big Ten, surrendering an average of 254 yards — 121 rushing and 132 passing. The passing defense is tops in the conference.
“They’re a physical football team,” said Ferentz. “They are very aggressive on defense and the same thing offensively, they’re doing a good job. They have physical players and it’s going to be a big challenge from that standpoint.
“Traveling and playing in the Big Ten on the road is another challenge. We’re going to have to have a great week of practice, go up to East Lansing and be ready to compete at game time.”
Iowa has been strong as a road team the past four seasons, winning 16 of 20 games. It is the Hawkeyes’ first trip to Spartan Stadium since 2012 — a 19-16 Iowa victory in double overtime.
On a personnel note, Ferentz said junior safety Brandon Snyder will make his way back to the field during the regular season. Snyder is sidelined, recovering from an ACL injury suffered during spring practices.
Ferentz also said it is possible that sophomore running back Toks Akinribade and sophomore kicker Keith Duncan will redshirt in 2017. Both saw action last season as true freshmen.
Saturday’s game will be televised on FOX with Aaron Goldsmith, Brady Quinn, and Bruce Feldman on the call.