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Michigan State vs. Iowa Big 10 Football Pick with Betting Line Analysis

11/12/11

Kirk Ferentz's (6-3) Iowa Hawkeyes started off slow, but find themselves with a chance to play in the inaugural Big Ten Title game this late in the season. They were last seen easily dispatching a good Michigan team. Now they will be tasked with defeating (7-2) Michigan State. The Spartans are at the top of the Legends division. They are a slight 2.5 point favorite to win this game with a total of 46.5. at betonline.

The Hawkeyes have played a relatively soft schedule so far this year. Their only tough game early on was against Penn State and they were defeated 13-3. They did take down Michigan, but still have questions to answer. This game should prove whether or not they can hang with a truly top team.

Sophomore Marcus Coker leads the offense. He had his coming out party in last year's bowl game and has been nothing short of phenomenal since then. His 2011 stats stand at 1,101 yards and 12 TDs on 211 attempts. WR Marvin McNutt is always dangerous. He's got 57 catches for 959 yards and 9 TDs. The QB, James Vanderberg, has done a great job of minimizing mistakes in the last few games.

Michigan State controls its own destiny. If they win this game they will almost certainly have locked up a spot in the Big Ten Title Game. They need another big performance from stud QB Kirk Cousins. He's not putting up huge numbers this year, but he is a great leader and can definitely play well. He scorched Nebraska for 3 TDs when they met.

We're going to find out if Michigan State is the real deal as well this week. At one point this year they looked like a monster. But they have come back down to earth the last couple of weeks. This team has proven it can win a shoot out type game, as they did against Wisconsin, as well as a defensive battle, such as their 10-7 win over the Buckeyes. But they really haven't proven themselves on the road. Yeah, they beat Ohio State, but lost their other two big tests at Notre Dame and Nebraska. They are coming into this one off of that Nebraska loss and last week's win over Minnesota, one of the worst teams in college football this year and they were matched yard for yard by the Gophers in that one.

Yards per point numbers actually favor Iowa here. The numbers are close to even, but giving Iowa 3 for home field would make them a 3 point home fav here. But when you consider Michigan State has played a schedule about 6 points more difficult, you'd end up with a final line of Michigan State -3. Likewise, our model predicts a 22-19 Michigan State win.

That being said, we like Michigan State here. Revenge can be a big motivating factor in college football. Last year Michigan State was rolling along at 8-0 with talks of the Rose Bowl and even a National title whirling about. Then they played Iowa and were spanked to the tune of 37-6, in what was the worst game of Kirk Cousins career. It's payback time and we think this Spartan team is plenty capable. They also catch Iowa coming off a huge win which can lead to a letdown along with the Spartans coming off 2 consecutive bad games, albeit, one a win. From an emotional handicapping standpoint, it's almost a perfect storm and sets up nicely for the Spartans. Michigan State -2.5

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