That feeling you get when you battle then break a big play to take the lead in the fourth quarter, only to have the opponent grind out a win in the final moments. You just need one stop but can’t get it. The game of inches is literally decided by an inch. It’s a feeling the Hawkeyes experienced on Saturday in an oh-so-close loss to Penn State.  

Many players compared that loss to Penn State to the 2015 loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game. (Full disclosure — so did I.) That game was followed by the high of a Rose Bowl and the low of the final score in Pasadena. This team still has most of its future in front of it. How will Iowa respond? Let’s go to the experts:

Featured predictions
Steve Batterson: Iowa 16, Michigan State 14
This one won’t be much to look at – when has an Iowa-Michigan State game ever been much to look at – but it will be the Hawkeyes’ biggest physical test so far this season. The turnover-prone Spartans may give Iowa an extra opportunity or two and that could prove to be the difference in a game when the first team to rush for 200 yards will earn the win.

Hawkeye Headquarters
Adam Rossow: Iowa 20, Michigan State 18
Dan Vasko: Iowa 24, Michigan State 17

National predictions
Sports Illustrated
Andy Staples: Iowa 
Chris Johnson: Michigan State  
Joan Niesen: Iowa 
Eric Single: Iowa 
Molly Geary: Iowa
Scooby Axson: Iowa 

Bill Connelly: Michigan State 27, Iowa 23 

Athlon Sports
Steven Lassan: Iowa
Mitch Light: Iowa
Bryan Fischer: Iowa

Dan Murphy: Iowa 31, Michigan State 17 
Mitch Sherman: Iowa 27, Michigan State 20 
Tom VanHaaren: Iowa 20, Michigan State 17 

Hawkeye State predictions
Land of 10

Scott Dochterman: Iowa 16, Michigan State 13 
Bobby La Gesse: Iowa 17, Michigan State 13 

The Gazette
Marc Morehouse: Michigan State 20, Iowa 19

Hawk Central
Chad Leistikow: Michigan State 20, Iowa 17 (OT) 

Go Iowa Awesome
Mark Hasty: Iowa 31, Michigan State 27

Pat Harty: Michigan State 22, Iowa 20
Tyler Devine: Iowa 7, Michigan State 6 
Dylan Burn: Iowa 27 Michigan State 20 

Hawkeye Nation
Rob Howe: Iowa 
Jon Miller: Iowa 
Sean Neugent: Iowa 34, Michigan State 16
David Schwartz: Iowa
Mitch Smith: Iowa 

Hawkeye Report
Mike Zierath: Michigan State 
Tom Kakert: Iowa 24, Michigan State 21
Blair Sanderson: Iowa 24, Michigan State 21
Torbee: Michigan State 28, Iowa 24 
Lyle Hammas: Michigan State 27, Iowa 24  
RDietz: Iowa 30, Michigan State 27 
John Kerth: Iowa 24, Michigan State 20 

Max Brekke: Iowa 31, Michigan State 17 
BoilerHawk: Iowa 20, Michigan State 17 
JP Scott: Iowa 28, Michigan State 13 
JPinIC: Iowa 31, Michigan State 20 
Hello Jerry: Iowa 31, Michigan State 13 
Matt Cabel: Michigan State 31, Iowa 24 
Benjamin Ross: Iowa 
Jordan Hansen: Michigan State 
Rob Danielson: Iowa 24, Michigan State 17

#IowaSim17 simulation
Cody Hills: Iowa 31, Penn State 21

Irrelevant prediction
And finally, the totally irrelevant prediction based on playing EA Sports’ NCAA Football 2004 on a PS2, as is the tradition since 2015:

Ryan Jaster: Michigan State 24, Hawkeyes 21. Costly turnovers and untimely penalties — including a 1st and goal from the 2 to the 22 in the final seconds on consecutive calls — and a hold negating an electric Ed Hinkel kickoff return for a TD. As cringeworthy as it is to see a 3-point loss to the Spartans, this matchup is no #B1GFCG (which, by the way, the irrelevant prediction had at 59-7 Iowa — oops). Again, that kind of pain was last week. It can’t possibly be topped this week. Can it?

Prognosis: Surprisingly good. It’s the first Big Ten road test for the 2017 Hawkeyes as well as the first test of their resolve coming off a loss. Teams with high expectations sometimes fold up shop after that first setback, especially such a devastating one, but these Hawkeyes’ expectations seem to be rising every week. Coming off that entry into the L column, that’s pretty good. However, the threat of a bad loss lurks. Would it have been one at the start of the season? Probably not. Is it now? Looks like yes. The prediction is the kind of pain that hits you in the stomach during those close games. But most think the chaser will be relief this time.

For more Hawkeye football coverage, follow @AdamJRossow and @HawkeyeHQ on Twitter — and now Facebook — and Hawkeye Headquarters on all season.