I've seen similar things done on other blogs and I thought it was a good idea. Plus, I think we are getting far enough along in the season where you can look at statistics and they start to mean something. The idea here is pretty simple...I looked at items like Iowa's averaging rushing yards gained per game versus Michigan State's average rushing yards given up per game. Then looked at the national FBS rank to see who had the advantage.

Rank Differential: Advantage
0-9: Push
10-29: H
30-49: HH
50-79: HHH
80-99: HHHH

S: Spartans
H: Hawkeyes

Iowa Offense vs. Michigan State Defense

CategoryIowa OffenseMichigan State DefenseAdvantage
Rushing Yards120.86939919SSSS
Passing Yards230.7147235.8685HH
Passing Efficiency
Total Yards351.5779334.8644SS
3rd Down Conversion42.864142.4390HH
Red Zone PPT*4.9555.53106HHH

This is a very intriguing match-up because Iowa has such a big advantage in the pass game, but Michigan State has a big advantage against the run. Michigan State has a very strong front 7 led by linebacker Greg Jones. The Spartans give up less than 100 yards a game and just 3.0 yards per carry. Obviously this is an area where Iowa has struggle a little, but I think the offensive line and Robinson are just starting to come together. Still, if Iowa gets more than about 25 yards on the ground I'd be very pleased.

If Ricky Stanzi plays like he did last weekend, he should have a huge game against the weak Spartan secondary. Michigan State has one of the worst pass defenses in the country. The key will really be the pass protection something Iowa has not been doing well. The Spartans really like to bring a lot of pressure out of their 4-3 base defense and average 3 sacks a game.

Some other good news is that Iowa has a decided advantage on 3rd downs and in the red zone. Michigan State also doesn't create many turnovers. Hopefully that will lead to long drive that end with touchdowns. MSU's red zone defense has been particularly poor. Of the 19 times a team has gotten inside the 20, they have 13 TDs and 5 field goals.

Overall Advantage: Push...Too close to call. Run game - MSU; Pass game - Iowa.

Iowa Defense vs. Michigan State Offense

CategoryIowa DefenseMichigan State OffenseAdvantage
Rushing Yards127.5753136.4371H
Passing Yards16716280.4317-
Passing Efficiency
Total Yards294.5722416.8632H
3rd Down Conversion364841.9446-
Red Zone PPT*4.93554.585HH

The Iowa defensive against the Michigan State offense is a little bit easier to figure out who has the advantage. Pretty much across the board, Iowa has been better statistically. Starting out with the run game, Iowa has been somewhat weak this year. However, MSU no longer has Ringer and is relying primarily on a couple of freshman to carry the load (sound familiar?). They have yet to have a 100-yard rusher in a game, but Larry Caper has been decent averaging 4.4 yards per carry and just under 50 yards per game. MSU's other top running back Glenn Winston injured his knee against Illinois and is out for the year.

Passing, the Spartans have been very good, rotating QBs Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol. Cousins has been the primary guy, though, and he is leading the Big Ten in pass efficiency. The good news is, though, that the QB tandem will be facing an Iowa defense that has completely rattle opposing quarterbacks this year and is leading the country in interceptions.

The other good news, is the Michigan State hasn't been great a finishing off drives. The give the ball up almost 2 times a game and haven't been great on 3rd downs. They have also had some problems in the red zone, and have had to settle for field goals a lot of the time. This should play right into Norm Parker's hands.

Overall Advantage: Iowa, by a long shot

Iowa Special Teams vs. Michigan State Special Teams

CategoryIowa Special TeamsMichigan State Special TeamsAdvantage
Kick Returns20.648324.4828SSS
Punting Returns9.65010.6740S
Net Punting38.661537.5726H
Field Goal %73.36190.913SS

Iowa special teams have been very good thus far this year. Murray has been on the last couple of games (and hit a career long 48 yard FG last week), and Donahue has been solid all year. Michigan State, though, has actually been better. Their kicker is 10/11 on the for field goals, and their punting is comparable to Iowa's. The also average 4 more yards per kickoff return, which will help the field position battle.

Overall Advantage: Michigan State

Prediction: Ricky Stanzi has his second straight good game and leads Iowa's offense to a couple of big second-half touchdown drives. The defense limits Cousins to his worst performance of the year.

Iowa 27 - MSU 16