Michigan State Vs. Iowa Big Ten Championship: 5 Key Stats to Know
On Saturday night in Indianapolis, a Big Ten title is on the line and with it, seemingly, a College Football Playoff berth. The undefeated Iowa Hawkeyes take on the Michigan State Spartans in the 2015 edition of the Big Ten championship game.
The Hawkeyes come in to the game ranked 4th, the Spartans 5th. In what is sure to be one of the most exciting Big Ten championship games in the contest's infantile history we take a look at some stats and numbers of note that may impact the 5th installment of the Big Ten Championship.
This game features two quarterbacks who, if they aren't already, could be labeled as their respective school's best ever quarterbacks.
Earlier this year, Connor Cook became the winningest quarterback in Michigan State history and also broke the school record for career passing touchdowns. His college record in games he has appeared in is 36-4.
C.J. Beathard has never thrown for 300+ yards in a college game. On the other hand, in his first year as a full time starter he has led Iowa to it's first ever undefeated regular season, and first ever 12 win season. His remarkable efficiency is highlighted by his TD-Int ratio which coming into this game stands at 14-3.
On the surface these two teams find themselves neck and neck in a number of different statistical categories. The output on the field from these two is strikingly similar on both sides of the ball.
On the topic of scoring, MSU has scored 401 points in 2015. Iowa has scored 404 points. A field goal is the difference in offensive output over 12 games. The averages come out to 33.67 to 33.42 in favor of the Hawkeyes.
By offensive yardage Iowa comes out on top, but again not by much. 404.3 yards per game to 399.4 yard per game favoring Iowa. That's a total difference of less than 60 yards. The Hawkeyes split is around 200 yards passing to 203 yards rushing. MSU is at about 240 yards passing to 160 yards rushing.
Defensively the Hawkeyes have allowed 18.7 points, though their last 4 opponents have all scored 20 or more points on them.
Michigan State on the other hand, has allowed 21.1 points per game on the year and they have kept their last three opponents underneath that mark.
Both teams boast a +14 turnover margin, good to be in the top 10 nationally.
And in the coaching department these head coaches are very close percentage wise with their school records. Mark Dantonio is 3-4 lifetime against Iowa, Kirk Ferentz is 7-6 against the Spartans all-time.
According to rivals.com, Michigan State holds an advantage in the athleticism of the players they bring to the school.
Over the last four years (recruiting classes 2012-2015) Michigan State has secured one five-star recruit and nineteen four-stars, compared with Iowa's seven four-stars and 0 five-stars in the same span.
Malik McDowell (class of 2014 recruit) is the five star prospect Michigan State landed.
This stat speaks highly of both coaches as they've been able to mold their players into great teams on the field, it might speak a little more highly of Big Ten coach of the year Kirk Ferentz though given the lack of four and five star recruits being brought in.
The Iowa Hawkeyes have controlled games they have played in extremely well. Across 12 games and a possible 12 hours of regulation football, Iowa has trailed less than an hour. Trailing for just 55 minutes and 15 seconds on the season.
That's 7.67% of the entire season Iowa has found themselves behind on the scoreboard.
The Hawkeyes trailed twice in the game against Iowa State, and then in the Big Ten schedule Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin all led for brief times before ultimately losing to Iowa in the midst of their current undefeated run.
The Iowa at Indiana game on November 7th was the last time Iowa trailed in a football game, meaning that when they take the field Saturday it will be close to a month since Iowa has been behind on the scoreboard.
In games where both teams are ranked inside the AP top 10, Mark Dantonio's Spartans are 5-1 during his tenure.
Michigan State picked up two wins to add to that record this year with wins over Oregon at home week two, and two weeks ago on the road over Ohio State.
Those wins add to the list that includes the 2013 Big Ten championship game, the 2014 Rose Bowl and the 2015 Cotton Bowl. Meaning all these top 10 v. top 10 games have come during the recent past of Dantonio's time so far in East Lansing.
MSU's only top 10 loss came last year in Eugene, Oregon.
Iowa is 1-2 under Kirk Ferentz in AP top 10 vs AP top 10 games. A win over Georgia Tech in the 2010 Orange Bowl and losses to Ohio State week seven in 2003 and a loss in the 2003 Orange Bowl to USC.