IOWA CITY — Michigan State linebacker Max Bullough loves playing any kind of football, but there are certain teams he enjoys competing against more than others.
Iowa is one of those teams. Why? Because it’s phone-booth football. Bullough is an old-school middle linebacker at 6-foot-3, 245 pounds and he’d rather hit players head on near the line of scrimmage than chase pass receivers from sideline to sideline.
“I have fun with any of the teams we play,” Bullough said. “But in terms of being able to play a physical football game and not having to run all the field, it’s my kind of game. Whether it’s a team like Iowa or Wisconsin or another team like that, those are the games you really excited for, get really pumped up for, just based on the physicality of them. Those are the games that are the most physical games on the schedule and as a middle linebacker, that’s what I prefer.”
Bullough also has respect for Iowa’s offensive line.
“They’re big guys, they work hard, they can finish the play, they can move, and they know what they’re doing,” Bullough said. “They run a great offense.”
The feeling is mutual, both among Iowa’s offensive linemen and his linebacker colleague, James Morris.
“(Bullough’s) just a physical football player,” Iowa center Austin Blythe said. “I think he does a good job of getting off blocks, taking on blocks and coming downhill and making a play.”
“I’m not going to go into comparing myself to other players,” Morris said. “I’ll just say about Max; he’s a great player he’s been a good player for them for the past three years or two and a half up to this point. Everything that he’s earned, he’s worked hard for and deservedly has received it. I have nothing but great things to say about him as a player.”
Iowa fullback Mark Weisman rushed for 116 yards against the Spartans last year. His tough, physical style of running has earned Bullough’s praise.
“A tough-nosed guy, runs downhill, he’s a physical ballplayer,” Bullough said. “I think he takes pride to being a straight-forward runner, a guy that can run you over, brings a physical edge. He’s a guy that takes pride in that, and I think Iowa takes pride in that, whether it’s the offensive line or the defensive line. So that’s just another challenge for us.”
Iowa and Michigan State have played in each of the last seven years, including the last three as part of the Legends Divisions. But their series goes on hiatus next year when they shift into opposite geographic divisions. The next time they’re slated to play is in 2017 at East Lansing.
Iowa leads the all-time series 23-19-2. In the last six years, twice the teams competed in double overtime and two others the games were decided by a field goal or less.
Iowa has played Michigan State seven times for homecoming and owns a 6-0-1 record on those dates. Iowa had a seven-game home winning streak against the Spartans snapped in 2011 when Michigan State beat the Hawkeyes 37-21. Iowa topped Michigan State on its homecoming 19-16 in double overtime last year.
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