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Spartans hoping for faster start against Iowa

Associated Press Modified: October 12, 2012 at 6:33 pm •  Published: October 12, 2012

Spartans running back Le'Veon Bell has run for 776 yards on 171 attempts — he's just 11 carries shy of last season's total.

"He's a very big guy and a powerful guy, yet he's mentally talented," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "If you break down at all and somebody misses a gap to break down that kind of thing, he can really hurt you, and he can run with some speed too."

Iowa may have found its own impressive running back in Mark Weisman, whose 217-yard performance was overshadowed in the loss to Central Michigan. He ran for 156 yards in the first half alone against Minnesota, and he'll have some help on Saturday since the starter he replaced, Damon Bullock, is back after missing nearly three games with a head injury.

Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg has completed 58.5 percent of his passes.

The Spartans are expected to be without tight end Dion Sims because of a sprained ankle, and Michigan State's receivers have struggled at times.

"It's no secret that injuries happen. It's no secret that sometimes people lose their spots and people get shuffled around," quarterback Andrew Maxwell said. "You never hope for these things to happen or plan on these things happening, but everybody has been a part of the season where these things have happened and you have to adjust."

Michigan State freshman Aaron Burbridge caught eight passes for 134 yards against Indiana in an increased role.

"Just like they got outplayed in the first half, they flipped it around in the second half and did what they needed to do to be successful," Ferentz said. "And the other scary element of the deal is they had a freshman receiver step up and do some good things. Got to be a good feeling for them, I think."