Michigan State and Iowa will lock horns in next weekend's Big Ten championship game with a trip to the College Football Playoff likely on the line.

And on the surface, the matchup looks like a meeting between two solid programs that don't play each other all too often anymore. But it's far more bitter than that.

Here are a few reasons why.

  • Dantonio Versus Ferentz

    Iowa is one of just three Big Ten schools that Mark Dantonio has a losing record against during his tenure in East Lansing. (The other two are Ohio State and Nebraska.)

    MSU has gone 3-4 versus Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes since 2007.

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  • Iowa has broken the Spartans' hearts several times

    The Hawkeyes' four wins over MSU in the Dantonio era have been particularly excruciating for the Spartans.

    • 2007: Iowa erased a late-game deficit at home to send the game into overtime. The Hawkeyes eventually won in double-overtime, giving MSU its fourth loss in five games and knocking the Spartans down to 5-4, jeopardizing their postseason hopes.
    • 2009: The Hawkeyes stayed perfect, moving to 8-0 by scoring a touchdown with no time left and undoing what would have been a game-winning MSU drive that included a thrilling hook-and-ladder. The gut-wrenching loss at home under the lights at Spartan Stadium dropped State to 4-4.
    • 2010: Michigan State was 8-0 and ranked No. 5 in the nation when the Spartans traveled to Iowa City in Week 9 of 2010. But Iowa upended MSU's perfect run in crushing fashion, blowing out the Spartans 37-6. The loss ultimately kept MSU out of the Rose Bowl and another BCS bowl--they had to watch Wisconsin (a team they beat) and Ohio State take those spots, respectively.
    • 2012: The Spartans' offense was struggling when the Hawkeyes came to East Lansing for homecoming in 2012, and the woes didn't go away that day. Iowa scored late to send the game to overtime, where the Hawkeyes eventually emerged victorious 19-16 after two extra sessions in cold and rainy conditions. That dropped MSU to 4-3 and was the beginning of a stretch where the Spartans lost four out of five games.
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  • The Hawkeyes are money in close games versus MSU

    Iowa holds a 3-1 record against Dantonio's MSU teams in games decided by 7 points or less.

    The average score in the seven meetings between Ferentz and Dantonio is pretty close with Iowa holding a narrow edge 21.9 to 20.1.

    In games won by MSU, the average score is 26.3 to 11.7. In games won by Iowa, the average score is 26.25 to 15.5.

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  • Bad blood between MSU and Iowa staffs has reportedly surfaced on the recruiting trail


    What's rhabdo, you may ask?

    In March 2014, 13 Iowa players were admitted to the hospital after reportedly intense offseason workouts. They all suffered from rhabdomyolysis, which, according to WebMD, is "a serious syndrome due to a direct or indirect muscle injury. It results from the death of muscle fibers and release of their contents into the bloodstream. This can lead to complications such as renal (kidney) failure. This occurs when the kidneys cannot remove waste and concentrated urine. In rare cases, rhabdomyolysis can even cause death."

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