Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, December 5, 2015

Earlier I posted my four keys to success for the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Football Championship. Now, here are my four keys to success for the Michigan State Spartans.

1. Go deep. Look, Connor Cook is the best quarterback in the Big Ten. No one is gonna argue that. Heck, he?s one of the best in the nation. That?s why the Spartans need to chuck it deep vs. an Iowa secondary that is good-but not great. Desmond King is a ball hawk, but he isn?t Charles Woodson. And there isn?t a ton of athletic ability in the Iowa secondary to deal with uber wideout Aaron Burbridge. On top of all that, the Hawkeyes don?t have a fierce pass rush. What?s it mean? The Iowa secondary may struggle to keep pace with an athletic fleet of Spartan pass catchers, as Cook works unfettered in the pocket.

2. Get after the quarterback. The Spartan defensive line looks like it could play on Sundays. Guys like Lawrence Thomas, Shilique Calhoun, Malik McDowell and Joel Heath are big, fast, physical and nasty. In fact, this may be the best d-line in the United States of America. It is vital for these guys to get after C.J. Beathard. Hit him. Smack him around. Don?t let him be comfortable. Make him worry about his safety and not chucking passes down field. Not QB works well while harassed.

3. Be physical. I?m talking about the Michigan State offensive line. The unit has been battered with injuries this season but still managed to keep things together and finally is healthy. Tough guy center Jack Allen needs to set the tone by getting a push up front vs. an Iowa defensive line that is good-but not great, especially with end Drew Ott out with injury. Without Ott, the Hawkeye pass rush has sagged. And MSU left tackle Jack Conklin, a future first-round selection, needs to seal his edge so the Spartan backs can get outside on occasion.

4. Don?t get burned. I?m looking at you, Spartan secondary. The unit has talent. But it?s a unit dominated by youth, as injuries have taken a toll. The unit is ninth in the Big Ten vs. the pass (231.0 ypg) and has been scorched on occasion. MSU plays a defensive scheme that likes to leave the cornerbacks on an island, as the defense commits to stopping the run. That can leave some juicy man-to-man opportunities for opposing wideouts to exploit vs. some neophyte cover men.

More coverage: Championship game scoreboard | Video highlights on Twitter | Instagram photos from BTN and The Journey | BTN Vine videos10 memorable title game videos | Compare and contrast the offenses | Compare and contrast the defenses | 88 guest predictions | Iowa's three defining games | Michigan State's three defining games | Coaches scouting report on Spartans, Hawkeyes | What time is the game again on Saturday? | Playoff Championship Committee rankings | All of our 2015 championship coverage


Email Tom Dienhart using the form below.

And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.