Oct. 5, 2013
Outside of a six-minute stretch to close out the first half, it was all Spartans. Michigan State out-gained Iowa, 412-264, in the game, and limited the Hawkeyes to 23 yards rushing on 16 carries. Iowa gained 140 yards during its two scoring drives, but just 124 yards the remainder of the contest.
"I don't think anything surprised us," said UI head coach Kirk Ferentz of Michigan State's defense. "We played them last year, they're physical and good on defense. It's not anything that catches you off guard, but it's quite a challenge to move it and score."
Sophomore Jake Rudock completed 26-of-46 attempts for 241 yards with two touchdowns, but he also had a pair of interceptions. Rudock was also Iowa's top rusher with 11 yards, as the Spartans bottled up Iowa junior Mark Weisman, limiting him to nine yards on seven carries.
Junior Damon Bullock paced the Iowa passing attack, finishing with five catches for 71 yards and a score. Sophomore Tevaun Smith had six grabs for 59 yards, and freshman Matt VandeBerg had four catches for 36 yards. All three totals are career-bests.
Three Hawkeyes finished with double-digit tackle totals. Seniors James Morris and Anthony Hitchens led the team with 12 tackles apiece, while freshman Desmond King had a career-best 11 stops. Morris also collected his second interception of the season.
Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook completed 25-of-44 attempts for 277 yards and two scores. Wide receivers Macgarrett Kings, Jr., and Bennie Fowler combined for 14 catches for 186 yards with two touchdowns, and Jeremy Langford had 43 yards rushing on 14 attempts.
Iowa's offense struggled out of the gates, gaining just 21 yards, zero first downs and committing one turnover over the game's first 24 minutes. On the final two possessions of the half, the Hawkeyes put together 75 and 65 yard scoring drives to take a 14-10 lead into the break.
Iowa picked up its initial first down at the 5:49 mark in the second quarter via an 8-yard completion to VandeBerg. Rudock then followed with consecutive completions to Smith and Weisman to move the ball near midfield.
Two plays later, Iowa caught the Spartans in a corner blitz, and Rudock hooked up with Bullock in the flat, where he scampered 47 yards untouched to make the score 10-7. Rudock was 4-for-4 for 73 yards on the series.
Iowa's defense kept the momentum, forcing a quick Spartan three-and-out, and the Hawkeyes continued where they left off, moving 65 yards over six plays to take a 14-10 lead. Smith opened the series by making a 36-yard reception over Spartan All-American corner back Darqueze Dennard on the MSU sideline to the Iowa 30.
Rudock followed with three-straight completions of 6, 7, and 5 yards to the Spartan 11 before zipping a 10-yard touchdown strike to senior tight end C.J. Fiedorowiz to give Iowa its first lead.
Michigan State regrouped and delivered a counter-punch on its first drive of the second half, covering 75 yards over seven plays to take a 17-14 lead. Cook connected with Kings for a 15-yard gain to move to midfield, and the Spartans found the end zone three plays later when Cook connected with Fowler for a 37-yard scoring strike when he beat B.J. Lowery and got behind the Iowa secondary.
Michigan State pushed its lead to 20-14 on its third drive of the second half. Kings, Jr., returned a Connor Kornbrath punt 30 yards to the Iowa 26. The Spartans moved just eight yards before settling on place picker Michael Geiger's 35-yard field goal.
The Spartans extended the margin to 23-14 on its next possession. The big play on the drive came when Michigan State punter Mike Sadler gained 25 yards on a fake punt on third-and-7 from its own 37 to move to into Iowa territory. The trickery paid off, as Geiger connected on a 49-yard field goal to make it a two-score lead.
"It was a good job on their part," said Ferentz. "We had a return set up, and they hit us where we were weak."
After the Hawkeyes went three-and-out on the ensuing possession, Iowa's defense forced a turnover on the next Spartan possession. On second down, Morris intercepted Cook at the Spartan 34, but Iowa managed a single yard before Mike Meyer's 50-yard field goal missed wide left.
Michigan State followed with a 12-play, 45 yard drive that used nearly six minutes. The Spartans converted two third downs on the series, including an 8-yard completion to Kings to move into field goal range. Geiger connected on his fourth field goal three plays later, pushing the Michigan State advantage to 26-14.
The Spartans scored the game's first points in the second quarter following a 12-play, 48-yard drive. Cook connected with Andre Sims for 20 yards on the drive's first play to move into Iowa territory, and the Spartans moved into the red zone via an 11-yard end-around to Aaron Burbridge. The Hawkeye defense held, stopping Nick Hill on third-and-1 from the 8 for a 2-yard loss. Geiger then connected on a 27-yard field goal, giving Michigan State a 3-0 advantage.
The Spartans pushed their lead to 10-0 on their next drive, moving 75 yards over seven plays. On third-and-6 from the 29, Fowler shed a Kevin Draper tackle to gain 12 yards and move the chains. Cook followed with an 11-yard run into Iowa territory before finding with Kings for a 46-yard touchdown three plays later. Iowa blitzed both of its safeties on the touchdown play, and Kings beat Draper in coverage for the score.
Iowa (4-2, 1-1) returns to action Oct. 19 at No. 3/4 Ohio State. The Hawkeyes have a bye Oct. 12.
"I told our team let's not get too global here," said Ferentz. "We were all happy after the game last week, and we're disappointed now. We'll come back and go to work, see what we need to do better, what we can do to improve and hopefully have a great week of practice and be ready for our next set of games."