The ninth-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes open the Big Ten race tomorrow at Michigan State. Michigan State is 3-1 under first-year coach John L. Smith after last week’s victory at Notre Dame. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz says the Spartan defense has led the way and it’s typical of Michigan State. He says they’ve forced a lot of turnovers, while not giving up a lot of points.Ferentz says the Spartan defense has made big plays without having to gamble.He says they use a four-man rush just like his team and don’t do a lot of blitzing. The Iowa State Cyclones play their first road game at 22nd-rated Northern Illinois. The Huskies have been the early surprise of the college football season with wins over Maryland and Alabama. Cyclone coach Dan McCarney says Michael Turner is one of the top running backs in the country, as evidenced by the 156 yards he rushed for against ‘Bama. Northern Illinois’ defense is yielding less than 15-points per game, and McCarney says they’re very aggressive and make lots of big plays. With a tough Big-12 schedule starting next week McCarney says this would be a big one for the Cyclones to win so they would be 3-1 going into the conference race. He says they need to show they’ve made progress in the areas where they struggled early.