Michigan State football started out this season with four straight games in the friendly confines of Spartan Stadium. Now, in week five, the team will get its first test away from home at Kinnick Stadium when the Spartans kick-off against the Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday evening.
This will be the first time the Spartans face off against the Hawkeyes since the 2020 COVID season, and veterans on the team such as redshirt senior offensive lineman J.D. Duplain know the vibe will be much different with fans in the stands this time around.
“It's gonna be a good environment,” Duplain said. “It’s gonna be fun to play there. I know they have a great tradition there, so we're all excited to hit the road for the first time. Get out there and play somewhere different. I played there a couple years ago. So a little different environment, as there was no one there when I played, but everyone's just excited for this week.”
For freshman starters such as linebacker Jordan Hall and defensive back Chance Rucker, who have been filling in for injured upperclassmen, this will be their first time experiencing a road game in the Big Ten. Acting head coach Harlon Barnett knows those guys have to be extra focused in order for them to execute correctly.
“That's what I'm gonna keep saying ... because it's gonna be a night game up there,” Barnett said. “They have a great fan base. They do a great job of the crowd noise and all that kind of stuff. They just need to focus on 11 on 11. I know it will be a lot of first time experiences going in, but you can look around a little bit. Regardless, you got to be locked in and go get the job done.”
Senior wide receiver Montorie Foster Jr. was also one of the players who made the trip to Iowa City when barely any people were in attendance. He agreed that the buzz in the stadium will certainly be a lot more to handle this time around, but he said the team just has to stay disciplined in order to come out of this two game losing skid, especially against a strong opponent like Iowa.
“We gotta do our job,” Foster said. “We know they’re gonna be disciplined on their side of the ball. So it basically comes down to us making the right calls, making the right reads and making plays.”
The bout is set to kick-off at 7:30 p.m. on NBC. This game will be Michigan State’s second night game this fall, with at least two more coming on the road at No. 4 Ohio State and on neutral turf at Ford Field Detroit against No. 6 Penn State to close the season. The Spartans aren’t set to return home for a month, with a bye week and a trip to Rutgers before they welcome rival No. 2 Wolverines on Oct. 21.