EAST LANSING — Saturday’s game against the Iowa Hawkeyes (3-2, 1-0) may be the Spartans (4-2, 1-1) biggest game of the season thus far.
Yes, you read that right. The BIGGEST game of the year so far.
Wait, before you switch back to your Twitter tab just hear me out.
Michigan State will be facing an Iowa team this Saturday that has underachieved even to their own standards. With losses to Central Michigan and Iowa State, Iowa isn’t going to be the Spartans toughest competition by any means.
However, one thing Iowa can offer the Spartans is confidence, and that’s something that will be vital for MSU going forward.
After Saturday’s game, the Spartans will be entering their toughest stretch of the season as they face Michigan (away), Wisconsin (away), and Nebraska (home).
The Michigan State offense needs to continue where they left off last week against Indiana so that they continue to build confidence heading into this tough stretch of the season.
Andrew Maxwell and the receivers are still trying to build chemistry halfway through the season.
Last week, MSU freshman wide receiver Aaron Burbridge jumped on the scene with an impressive eight catches for 134 yards against the Hoosiers.
The emergence of Burbridge against Indiana could be huge for a Spartans offense that has struggled immensely at the receiver position.
Burbridge and the rest of the receiving corps will have another opportunity to prove themselves this week as tight end Dion Sims, Spartans leading receiver, is out with an ankle injury.
Quarterback Andrew Maxwell is looking for a receiver that he can trust and it seems as if he found one in Burbridge, but this game will give the passing game one more chance to get in sync before the schedule gets tough.
In his first year as a starter, Maxwell has improved little by little every game.
The junior quarterback hasn’t thrown an interception since week 1 against Boise State, and in his last three games he has completed nearly 56 percent of his passes and has thrown four touchdowns.
I’m sure that Maxwell’s success as of late has come because of opposing defenses game plan to focus on MSU’s star running back Le’Veon Bell.
Bell is coming into Saturday’s game with a total of 776 yards rushing and 7 touchdowns. 419 of those 776 yards have come in the last three weeks as Bell has carried the Spartans for the majority of the season.
On the other side of the ball, the Spartans defense has struggled as of late, and just like the offense, the defense can use this game against an underachieving Hawkeyes offense to build some confidence.
The player that may need the most confidence of the Spartans defense is senior corner Johnny Adams.
Adams has given up at least one big play in the Spartans last four games and could really use an interception or two to get back where he needs to be mentally.
Confidence is key for any team, but especially a MSU team that has lacked it at times this season. A game against an Iowa team that the Spartans should dominate could be exactly what the offense and defense need to head into the final stretch of the season on top of their game.
The Hawkeyes are coming off a big win against Minnesota in their Big Ten season opener, and are looking to rain on Michigan State’s homecoming parade.
Kick-off is at 12:00 pm.