Big 10 Preview: Michigan battles Michigan St. for state pride

Also, No. 13 Iowa looks to remain unbeaten against Arkansas St.

by Austin Cumblad

When Michigan and Michigan State met a year ago, they were headed toward vastly different seasons; the Wolverines to their worst season in program history (3-9), the Spartans to a 9-3 regular season record and the Capital One Bowl. Michigan State snapped a six-game losing streak to Michigan, 35-21, its first win at Michigan Stadium since 1990. This year, the arcs of the teamsâÄô seasons are reversed. The Wolverines are 4-0 and ranked 22nd in the country while the Spartans (1-3 overall, 0-1 Big Ten) have lost three straight by a combined 13 points. They meet Saturday at Spartan Stadium with the Paul Bunyan Trophy on the line. Michigan (4-0, 1-0) will be playing on the road for the first time in 2009 and will learn quickly how true freshman quarterback Tate Forcier handles a hostile environment. HeâÄôs already showed the poise of a veteran, leading the Wolverines to comeback wins against Notre Dame in week two and Indiana last Saturday. Meanwhile, Michigan StateâÄôs quarterback tandem of Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol will helm the offense fresh off of combining for 396 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions through the air against Wisconsin. But it is the run game that typically decides this storied rivalry. The team with more rushing yards has won 36 of the last 39 meetings. No. 13 Iowa vs. Arkansas State Suddenly a Big Ten contender after a 21-10 upset of then-No. 5 Penn State, No. 13 Iowa plays its final nonconference game this weekend before finishing the season with seven straight conference games. It should be slightly easier fare for the Hawkeyes (4-0, 1-0) on Saturday when they host the Sun Belt ConferenceâÄôs Arkansas State at Kinnick Stadium with kickoff scheduled for 11 a.m. Iowa is on an eight-game win streak dating back to 2008 and was the only Big Ten team to win its bowl game a season ago. It has been truly dominant at home in recent years; the Hawkeyes have won 40 of their last 48 games at Kinnick Stadium dating back to 2002. No. 15 Penn State at Illinois Prior to the 2009 season, it looked like the Big Ten would be two teams and nine pretenders. Penn State and Ohio State would claw for the conference crown while everyone else just sat and watched. Not anymore. After opening Big Ten play with their second loss to Iowa in as many meetings, the Nittany Lions (3-1, 0-1) dropped from No. 5 to No. 15 in the AP Top 25 and must rebound quickly against a reeling Illinois (1-2, 0-1) team to keep their conference title hopes alive. The Illini dropped their Big Ten opener as well, 30-0, at the hands of Ohio State. Quarterback Juice Williams has struggled in the pocket this season; he has yet to complete a touchdown and has thrown three interceptions. Penn State quarterback Darryl Clark has had turnover problems of his own, tossing six interceptions but offsets that with 958 yards and nine touchdowns. No. 9 Ohio State at Indiana Indiana (3-1, 0-1) surprised many by jumping off to a 3-0 start and giving Michigan all it could handle a week ago in a 36-33 loss, but it faces its second straight top-25 test when it hosts 9th-ranked Ohio State at Memorial Stadium at 6 p.m. The Buckeyes have dominated the matchup, 65-12-5, and have a 15-game Big Ten road winning streak.