Holding Back The Hawkeyes

Then-sophomore Denicos Allen tackles Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz in a 2011 game. With the Hawkeyes coming to East Lansing, the Spartans can’t overlook them with the U-M game looming


The MSU football team (4-2 overall, 1-1 Big Ten) is less than 48 hours from squaring off against Iowa (3-2, 1-0) in its Homecoming match.

And at about 4 p.m. Saturday, win or lose, you can bet the Spartans already will have forgotten about the Hawkeyes and turned their attention to the next opponent: in-state rival No. 25 Michigan (3-2 overall, 1-0 Big Ten), who is looming just over the horizon.

But not a second before.

“We’re not looking past Iowa at all,” junior wide receiver Bennie Fowler said. “It’s going to be a tough, physical game, and Iowa is the focus right now.”

In head coach Mark Dantonio’s five seasons with the Spartans, his teams are 2-3 in the games just before Michigan week, including a 34-27 loss in Iowa City, Iowa, in 2007, his first year with the program.

The Spartans then lost to Ohio State in 2008 and Wisconsin in 2009 before getting their revenge on the teams in 2010 and 2011.

Senior linebacker and captain Chris Norman said he hasn’t had to do much to remind his teammates to focus on the task at hand and not look ahead to the Spartans’ hated rival.

“I think, collectively, we’re focused on Iowa because this is a huge game,” he said. “It’s Homecoming, and Iowa definitely is not an easy opponent, so you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

MSU already has come out victorious twice this season in what could be considered “trap games.”

The first came during a 41-7 blowout against Central Michigan in week two, when the Spartans avoided a letdown between matchups against Boise State and No. 7 Notre Dame. The second time, MSU had some trouble putting away a stubborn Eastern Michigan team sandwiched between games against Notre Dame and No. 8 Ohio State.

But as far as Dantonio’s concerned, nearly every game is a trap game.

Dantonio spoke about his team staying focused on the task at hand, and not allowing his team to become complacent with the laurels earned in years past, and to not let praise from the outside get into their heads.

“Sometimes, you have a tendency (to pay attention to the hype), regardless of whether you try to say, ‘We’re going to try to stay even-keeled and not go too far into the distance,” he said. Above it all, the Spartans know they can’t look past the Hawkeyes. In years past, Iowa has made them pay, and the Spartans remember it.

“Iowa’s a pound (it), run it, … constantly pounding it (type of offense),” redshirt freshman safety RJ Williamson said.

“So it will be a pretty physical game.”

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