Title-game players note similarities


Peter Kim

Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard talks to the media at the Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015. The Hawkeyes defeated Purdue, 40-20. (The Daily Iowan/Peter Kim)

By Ryan Rodriguez

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Players from both Michigan State and Iowa spoke to members of the media to discuss their teams’ impending showdown in the Big Ten title game on Saturday.

Iowa’s C.J. Beathard, Austin Blythe, and Cole Fisher spoke, while Connor Cook, Jack Allen, and Shilique Calhoun represented the Spartans.

Offensive similarities    

The Iowa quarterback was asked if he noticed any similarities between him and Michigan State quarterback Cook, but for Beathard, it’s the team that is the point, not the player.

“I don’t like to really compare myself to other quarterbacks, but he’s a great quarterback,” Beathard said. “I have noticed that they do run a pro-style offense, which is a lot like our offense and the things we like to run, but I’ve got a great respect for him.”

Beathard and Cook have been two of the Big Ten’s best quarterbacks this season, both ranking in the top-five in pass efficiency.

Calhoun wary of Iowa offensive line

Michigan State defensive back Calhoun has enjoyed another strong season for the Spartans, recording team-high 8 sacks. Calhoun will face a stiff test Saturday as he tries to navigate Iowa’s formidable offensive line and get to quarterback Beathard.

“Their offensive line is really big, big guys, big maulers that can really push you off the ball and keep you moving,” Calhoun said. “And their backs, you have to get them down. But we pride ourselves on being able to stop the run, and we know that stopping the run game is something we’re going to have to do to win.”

He also noted his team’s similarities to Iowa.

“In a sense, yeah [they’re similar],” Calhoun said. “I think they do a good job of running the ball at you and wanting to pound the ball with the run game. I think our offense does the same thing, wanting to pound you with the run game to open up the passing game.”

Cook recalls Iowa debut

Cook should be a name most Hawkeye fans are familiar with. Then a redshirt sophomore, Cook had what Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz called his coming-out party in 2013, helping Sparty to down the Hawkeyes, 28-14.

Cook remembers his last meeting with the Hawkeyes well.

“I just remember having to be extremely focused,” Cook said. “Having to go in and play at Iowa is obviously a very hostile environment, it’s a hard place to play and a very hard place to win. I just remember it being my first Big Ten road game of my career, and just wanting and needing to make smart declensions with the ball.

Cook looks forward to facing the Hawks again in a much more neutral and receptive Lucas Oil Stadium.

“It was a little bit ago, but I remember being extremely nervous for that game,” Cook said. “That atmosphere was great, and they’re a great team.”

Follow @Ryanarod for Iowa football news, updates, and analysis.

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