No. 13 Michigan State Beats Iowa 37-21
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa's late-season resurgence ended just a week after it began.
Kirk Cousins threw for 260 yards and three touchdowns and 13th-ranked Michigan State beat the Hawkeyes 37-21 on Saturday to take control of the Big Ten's Legends Division.
B.J. Cunningham caught a pair of TD passes for the Spartans, who snapped a seven-game losing streak at Iowa dating back to 1989 and knocked the Hawkeyes out of contention for a spot in the league title game.
Michigan State (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) took a commanding 31-7 lead with two touchdowns in a 36-second stretch late in the second quarter. Cunningham followed Le'Veon Bell's 25-yard TD run with a 22-yard touchdown catch to put Michigan State up by 24 at the break.
In just 30 minutes, Iowa's 24-16 win over Michigan last week was forgotten.
"You're playing a good team like Michigan State, it's not realistic to think you're going to have a chance to compete against them if you're not playing well," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.
James Vandenberg threw for 262 yards and two touchdowns for Iowa (6-4, 3-3), which lost its first home game of the season.
The loss overshadowed a record-setting day from Marvin McNutt, whose 130 yards receiving put him first on Iowa's career list with 2,635.
Save for a brief flash of life out of Iowa late in the third quarter, the Spartans coasted to a payback win over the Hawkeyes after getting pounded 37-6 last season in Iowa City.
Iowa quickly cut a 34-7 deficit to 13 points on McNutt's 3-yard TD catch and a 2-yard touchdown run by Marcus Coker. But Iowa got too cute trying a hurry-up sneak on 4th-and-1 and was called for a false start, and Vandenberg's next pass fell incomplete with 10:16 left.
Dan Conroy hit a 48-yard field goal with 5:11 left, and Tony Lippett's fumble recovery with 2:53 to go sealed the win for the Spartans — whose first-half performance put Iowa in a hole too deep to climb out of.
"Outside of that one drive, I can't remember anything in the first half that was encouraging or gave you much to be encouraged about," Ferentz said.
Michigan State never got going in last year's loss to Iowa. The Spartans had been unbeaten until that game.
It took less than six minutes for Michigan State to top that terrible performance.
Cousins found Cunningham alone in the middle of the end zone for a 6-yard TD pass, putting the Spartans ahead 7-0 after their first drive.
Cousins then followed a pick by Johnny Adams with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Edwin Baker to give Michigan State a 14-0 lead with 7:37 left in the first quarter.
In less than half a quarter, the Spartans had more points than they had scored in each of their previous three road games.
"We've got to play better as an offense and that starts with me. That turnover was a big deal and led to a quick touchdown and we're down 14-0," Vandenberg said. "Learn from this, make sure nobody's hanging their head and we'll just push forward."
Iowa's answer came seven seconds into the second, as Vandenberg found sophomore C.J. Fiedorowicz for his first career TD grab from eight yards out. But safety Tanner Miller went for an interception of Cousins and missed, allowing Keshawn Martin to go 67 yards and set up a 22-yard field goal from Conroy.
That put the Spartans ahead 17-7 — and they weren't through yet.
Bell, who ran for 112 yards, went straight up the middle of Iowa's defense for a 25-yard touchdown run with 1:57 left in the second quarter, and Jordan Bernstine fumbled the kickoff right back to Michigan State.
That set the stage for a leaping touchdown grab by Cunningham, giving Michigan State a 31-7 lead.
Iowa only got 57 yards rushing from Coker, the Big Ten's leading rusher entering the game.
"They did a great job of taking (the run) away from us and never letting us get Coker into the flow. And obviously we shot ourselves in the foot with some of the penalties and that takes away our run game as well. They definitely did a good job of that," Vandenberg said.
The Spartans can now earn a spot in the Big Ten title game with wins over Indiana and Northwestern in the next two weeks.
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