Before this college football season began, I don't think anyone would have predicted the Big 10 Championship game to go down between Michigan State and Iowa.

Most would have predicted Ohio State going up against the likes of Nebraska or Wisconsin. Then again, this whole college football season has been crazy, just like every season is.

On Saturday, the Spartans will take on the Hawkeyes in Lucas Oil Stadium, both of them gunning for a berth in the coveted College Football Playoff. Who will take home the Big 10 title?

Both of these teams play pretty similarly, and have played very well and consistent this season and through the Big 10 schedule. Iowa is 12-0 and 8-0 in the Big 10, while Michigan State is 11-1 and 7-0, respectively.

Both teams have played great defense, ran the ball well, and have avoided turnovers, leading to their success this season. Michigan State, of course, had a key win over the defending champion Ohio State Buckeyes this year, handing them their first loss.

Iowa, on the other hand, have also been impressive, though many people think their schedule is weak and average compared to others. However, Iowa is not a team to take lightly.

Thanks to their terrific offensive line, the Hawkeyes have created a lethal rushing attack this season led by running back Jordan Canzeri, who has 964 rushing (5.5 yards per carry) and 12 touchdowns. The team as a whole has been averaging 203 rushing yards per game.

Iowa has also been able to play very mistake-free, and quarterback C.J. Beathard has done a solid job at that. The QB currently has a 14-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio on the season.

While Iowa's passing attack isn't as noted much, keep an eye out for Matt VandeBerg, who is the team's most consistent wideout. He currently has 59 catches for 625 yards and three touchdowns on the year.

Iowa's defense isn't that bad itself, as they led the Big 10 this season in interceptions, and were tied for third in the whole nation for points scored off of them. That could help when they face star quarterback Connor Cook on Saturday night.

The senior recorded an impressive season this year, having 2,730 yards with 24 touchdowns and just four picks. While he was out for the team's win over OSU, he played well in the team's finale over Penn State with a 248-yard performance and three touchdowns (no picks).

Aaron Burnbridge has been the standout wide receiver for MSU, catching 75 passes for 1,158 yards and seven touchdowns. He also has the ability to make the tough catches, something the Spartans will need against this tough Iowa defense.

Don't sleep on their rushing attack either. The one-two punch of LJ Scott and Gerald Homes had 18 rushing touchdowns this season, as well as recording over 1,000 yards.

Like Iowa, Michigan State's defense is overly-dominant, but they are very good. It all comes down if they can stop the Hawkeyes' consistent rushing attack. That right there is a huge key in this game.

So, who do I think is going to win this one? Currently, Michigan State is favored to win by nearly four points, and for good reason.

Iowa hasn't faced a team as tough and as battle-tested as the Spartans this season. In addition to that, Michigan State has more big-game experience and has gone against tougher competition, I believe.

I think they will do enough on defense to get past Iowa's stout o-line and stopping their rushing attack. I also believe they will approach a more conservative style of offense to get past the Hawkeyes and their solid pass defense.

With that said, I do believe the game will be close. It won't be flashy, though the oddsmakers believe both teams will combine for over 52 points, according to SB Nation. It will be a good, gritty game to watch, but I believe Spartans take home the Big 10 title and clinch a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Michigan State 21, Iowa 17


By Josh Dhani

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