By Ashley Scoby

Lions head coach Jim Caldwell may live and work in Detroit, but he’s not cheering for the state of Michigan this weekend.

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When 11-1 Michigan State plays in the Big Ten championship game Saturday, the Spartans will do so against Caldwell’s alma mater, Iowa. At 12-0, the Hawkeyes are undefeated this season. The winner of Saturday’s championship game will all but certainly go to the College Football Playoff.

“I think most guys that have played our game and been involved in it, their alma mater is a special place,” Caldwell said when asked if he would have to quietly root for Iowa since they’re playing the relatively-local Spartans. “Let’s not get that twisted. But we have some great teams in this state as well. It’s similar teams actually when you look at them (Michigan State and Iowa) – similar programs, similar ways they go about winning, tough teams, hard-nosed football. It should be a lot of fun to watch.”

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Caldwell was a defensive back for Iowa from 1973-76, and served as a graduate assistant for the program in 1977.

He also occasionally communicates via text message with Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz.

Saturday’s game will be in Caldwell’s old stomping grounds, at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium. But Caldwell doesn’t plan on attending, saying there is too much work to be done with his current team. He still plans on watching on TV, and cheering unabashedly for his alma mater.

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“This is quite special,” Caldwell said. “They’ve put together a program that you rarely hear any bad things about them in terms of the student athletes that they have there on the campus. They handle themselves the right way, they win the right way and right now, it’s a great national stage that they’re on and they’re deserving of it. But great, great group of coaches too, great group of men, and I’m happy for them.”