What we learned Saturday

Things we learned in Iowa’s 37-6 victory over Michigan State on Saturday:

– There’s a very good chance that the fourth best team in the Big Ten will end up in the Rose Bowl. Michigan State is still in the driver’s seat because it would win almost every three-way tiebreaker, but the Spartans were exposed Saturday as a less-than-championship quality team. They appear to be no better than the fourth best team in the Big Ten, but are going to benefit from not having to play Ohio State this season.

– Iowa has tremendous depth at linebacker and has few worries about the future at that position despite having four senior linebackers on the roster. James Morris and Shane DiBona made their first career starts Saturday and didn’t look at all like freshmen. Both will be major contenders for starting jobs next season.

– Adam Robinson is not the best running back in the Big Ten, but he might be the most versatile. In addition to rushing for 69 tough yards and a touchdown Saturday, he also caught a 32-yard touchdown pass. And when Ricky Stanzi scrambled to his left in the first quarter, Robinson leveled maybe the best linebacker in the country, Greg Jones, with a ferocious blindside block. There doesn’t seem to be anything he can’t do.

– The Hawkeyes’ secondary is getting better. It may have played its best game of the season Saturday. Three of the four starters had an interception and the fourth guy, Micah Hyde, took a lateral from Tyler Sash and turned it into a 66-yard touchdown return. Michigan State spent much of the day trying to pick on Shaun Prater but the junior cornerback responded to the challenge with a timely interception and a team-high 10 tackles.

– Coach Kirk Ferentz is gaining confidence in freshman running back Marcus Coker. After not using him in any of the past three games, Coker got the ball 16 times in the second half.

– Ferentz isn’t completely adverse to using trick plays. Some of us have been waiting for two years to see ex-quarterback Marvin McNutt throw a pass off a reverse and they finally did it Saturday although the timing was odd. They called the play in the fourth quarter, long after the outcome had been decided.

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