Oct. 10, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa senior Steve Bigach and his defensive teammates know they have a big challenge ahead Saturday when the Hawkeyes travel to Michigan State for their first "true" road game of the season.
Iowa is 3-2 on the season, including a 31-13 home win over Minnesota to open conference play. The Hawkeyes now have seven straight Big Ten games in front of them after an open date in the schedule last weekend. On tap this week is a trip to Michigan State for a date with the defending division champions.
"We're trying to improve each week, and that was the goal with the bye week," said Bigach. "We had a chance to rest our legs a bit and also move forward as a team. We're a young football team, so it was good to have the extra time to focus on Michigan State. They're a really good football team, and they are very strong up front. They like to run the football, so defensively it's going to be a good challenge for us."
Bigach, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, has played both end and tackle this season. One of the big challenges on Saturday will be tackling Michigan State running back Le'Veon Bell (6-foot-2, 237 pounds), who leads the Spartan ground game.
"As a defensive lineman, the top concern is always the guys up front with the offensive line, and (MSU) is good up front," said Bigach. "When you get past that, Le'Veon is a tough tackle. He is a tough runner, he runs hard and puts his shoulder down. We have to make sure we're fundamentally sound and are in good tackling form."
Bigach feels the extra week without a game, and the confidence of a solid defensive effort in the win over Minnesota, can help the Hawkeye defense.
"It was great to put it all together; offense, defense and special teams clicked," said Bigach. "That was good, because we have been here and there throughout the season and haven't put it together. It was good to have all three phases moving in the right direction. It doesn't mean anything if you don't build on that, and these past two weeks have given us the chance to do that. It's important to keep building, because `what have you done for me lately' is the name of the game."
Iowa hasn't played in East Lansing since the 2009 season when the Hawkeyes scored a touchdown on the final play of the game to earn a 15-13 win that was played in primetime in front of a national television audience. Even though he didn't play in the game, Bigach remembers the game and hasn't forgotten how tough it is to win on the road.
"I was there in 2009, but I didn't see the field," Bigach said. "It was an awesome experience. It's (Spartan Stadium) a great atmosphere for a football game. Anytime you go into an away stadium, you have to pull together because it's kind of just your team against 80,000 or something like that. It's an opportunity to really pull together as a unit. It's important to focus on yourself, your fundamentals and performing the way we know we are capable of. It's important to take another step forward like we did two weeks ago, and if we do that hopefully it will be enough to get the win."
Game time Saturday at Michigan State is 11:01 a.m., CT (ESPN).