12:00 PM ET, November 12, 2011
Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Michigan State wiped away 22 years of frustration at Iowa with a resounding win Saturday over the Hawkeyes.
The Spartans also took a big step toward a much more important milestone -- a spot in the Big Ten's first title game.
Kirk Cousins threw for 260 yards and three touchdowns and Michigan State (No. 17 BCS, No. 13 AP) beat Iowa 37-21 to take control of the Big Ten's Legends Division race.
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.
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.
The Spartans can now earn a spot in the Big Ten title game with wins over Indiana and Northwestern in the next two weeks.
"We came here with an idea that we were going to have to weather the storm or be the storm," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio 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.
"They were a lot more ready to play then we were, and certainly did a great job in that first half and made it a real challenge for us," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.
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.
Sparty Learns How to Score
Michigan State scored 14 points in the first eight minutes against Iowa. The Spartans hadn't scored more than 13 points in any of their three previous road games this season.
|Sept. 17||at Notre Dame||13|
|Oct.1||at Ohio State||10|
|Oct. 29||at Nebraska||3|
|Nov. 12||at Iowa||37|
Iowa quickly cut a 34-7 deficit to 13 points on Marvin 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.
"We've been the hunted the last two years. We are a program that people are hunting down. Last year we were undefeated when we walked in here," Dantonio said. "To be able to push through the discouragement last year is a sign of progress and a sign of maturity."
McNutt was stellar in his final home game for the Hawkeyes with eight catches for 130 yards, becoming the program's leader in career receiving yards with 2,635.
But Iowa only got 57 yards rushing from Coker, the Big Ten's leading rusher entering the game.
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 of a quarter, the Spartans had more points than they had scored in each of their previous three road games.
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.
It was a complete role reversal from last season's game, which Iowa led 30-0 at halftime, and ended Iowa's slim hopes of landing in the inaugural Big Ten title game.
"We didn't look ready. We left the door open way too many times in all three phases," Ferentz said.
The misery didn't stop there for the Hawkeyes either, as Michigan State successfully converted a fake field goal in the third quarter with a 24-point lead.
Iowa is out of the Legends Division title picture, which is now Michigan State's to lose.
"We're right where we want to be with two weeks to go in the regular season," Cousins said.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... MSU weathered a comeback flurry before putting the screws on Iowa in the fourth.
Gameball goes to... Kirk Cousins. He helped put MSU in the driver's seat in its division with three TD passes.
Stat of the game... 1989. Iowa City hadn't been kind to the Spartans. They ended a seven-game skid there.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||4-16||6-17|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||1-2|
|TD||09:17||B.J. Cunningham 6 Yd Pass From Kirk Cousins (Dan Conroy Kick)||7||0|
|TD||07:37||Edwin Baker 17 Yd Pass From Kirk Cousins (Dan Conroy Kick)||14||0|
|TD||14:53||C.J. Fiedorowicz 8 Yd Pass From James Vandenberg (Mike Meyer Kick)||14||7|
|FG||07:37||Dan Conroy 22 Yd||17||7|
|TD||01:57||Le'Veon Bell 25 Yd Run (Dan Conroy Kick)||24||7|
|TD||01:21||B.J. Cunningham 22 Yd Pass From Kirk Cousins (Dan Conroy Kick)||31||7|
|FG||08:31||Dan Conroy 31 Yd||34||7|
|TD||05:39||Marvin McNutt 3 Yd Pass From James Vandenberg (Mike Meyer Kick)||34||14|
|TD||00:49||Marcus Coker 2 Yd Run (Mike Meyer Kick)||34||21|
|FG||05:11||Dan Conroy 48 Yd||37||21|