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Get to Know the Opponent: Iowa

MSU faces the Hawkeyes for the first time in three years.

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan State Spartans look to carry the momentum from last week’s rivalry win into a Week Three matchup against Iowa Hawkeyes. Michigan State hasn’t played the Hawkeyes since 2017, and it is the Spartans’ first trip to Kinnick Stadium since 2013. So let’s get a little refresher on Iowa.

School: University of Iowa

Nickname: Hawkeyes

Conference: Big Ten (West Division)

Location: Iowa City, Iowa

Head Coach: Kirk Ferentz (21st season)

Record: 0-2

All-Time Series: Iowa leads 23-22-2 since 1953 (MSU has won three in a row and four of last five)

Kirk Ferentz is 162-106 at Iowa and is 97-77 in Big Ten games. He has led the Hawkeyes to seven-straight bowl games and is coming off a 10-3 season last year. He is 7-8 all-time against the Spartans. Iowa has gotten off to a rough start, losing its first two games to Purdue and Northwestern. Both games were close, with Iowa falling by a total of five points in the two games.

Team Stats

We start on the offensive side of the ball, where Iowa is averaging an even 20 points per game, having scored that amount in each of the first two games of the season.

Iowa is averaging 376.5 total yards per game and just over five yards per play through their first two games.

The Hawkeyes are averaging 136 yards per game on the ground, at 4.61 yards per carry, with three rushing touchdowns.

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Through the air the Hawkeyes are averaging 240.5 yards per game and 5.3 yards per attempt. They have thrown one touchdown and been picked off three times.

Iowa’s offense is converting just 33.33 percent of their third down opportunities.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Hawkeyes are allowing 22.5 points per game, having allowed 24 and 21 points in their two games this season.

They are allowing 329.5 total yards of offense and 4.25 yards per play. Both those numbers are pretty solid.

The rushing defense has been very strong through two games. Iowa has given up 123.5 yards per game on the ground, but just 2.84 yards per carry. The Hawkeyes have allowed three rushing touchdowns.

They have also been solid against the pass, allowing 206 yards per game, on 6.1 yards per attempt. They have picked off three passes and given up three touchdowns.

The Hawkeyes are allowing teams to covert third downs nearly 46 percent of the time, which is currently 85th in the country.

Players to Watch

Sophomore quarterback Spencer Petras has been at the helm for Iowa the first two games of the season. Petras has 481 yards on 5.4 yards per attempt with one touchdown and three interceptions. His quarterback rating is 96.29, which is why Iowa ranks fourth from the bottom in QBR nationally.

Petras isn’t really a running threat either, with eight carries for 14 yards and a touchdown on the season. So the dual threat isn’t an issue for MSU this week.

Tyler Goodson is the leading rusher so far for Iowa, with 120 yards and a touchdown on the season. He is averaging 4.14 yards per carry. Goodson led the Hawkeyes a year ago with 638 yards and five scores on 4.76 yards per carry. He can also catch the ball out of the backfield, with seven receptions for 67 yards through the first two games.

Senior Mekhi Sargent has 15 carries for 91 yards, an average of 6.07 yards per carry as the other rushing threat.

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

On the receiving end, sophomore tight end Sam LaPorta is the leading pass catcher with 11 receptions for 117 yards, an average of 10.64 yards per catch.

Two other receivers have each caught seven passes. Ihmir Smith-Marsette has 84 yards on those seven receptions, and Nico Ragaini has 77 yards. Smith-Marsette will be missing this weekend’s game due to suspension. The lone touchdown pass was caught by Brandon Smith, who has six catches for 53 yards.

On defense, Daviyon Nixon has two sacks already, nearly matching his total of three from last year. Nixon also has a team high 5.5 tackles for loss and is tied for the team lead with 18 total tackles.

Barrington Wade and Joe Evans have added a sack each as well.

Defensive back Jack Koerner has 18 tackles and an interception from the secondary.

Senior place kicker Keith Duncan had made all four of his field goal attempts, and has made all four extra point attempts, so far this season.

Freshman punter Tory Taylor is averaging 46.10 yards per punt.