Michigan State and Iowa entered the game with bruising reputations and most felt this game would be decided by the defenses and which offenses stayed out of the way the most.
In the end, the Spartans lived up to their defensive billing, the Iowa offense looked like it did in 2012 and the Hawkeyes lost the game in convincing fashion 26-14.
The Iowa offense looked lost for 55 of the 60 minutes. It didn’t gain a first down until there were less than six minutes left in the first half and then the Hawks went on back to back scoring drives, primarily via the air and led 14-10 at the break.
MSU came out and scored a touchdown to start the second half and the Iowa offense didn’t make it out of the locker room. Well, they did literally make it out of the locker room, but had they not, they would have scored the same number of second half points; zero. Iowa had 161 yards in the first half thanks to those two late drives and when they got the ball back with under five minutes to play in the game, they had gained just 210.
The defense struggled on this day, allowing Michigan State QB Connor Cook to get off for nearly 300 yards, but the Hawks were still within shouting distance when the game moved into the fourth quarter. The Spartans were just past the Iowa 40 yard line and were lined up to punt. They snapped it and took off with the fake; nothing fancy, just the punter running for the longest rush of the day for either team. You know, the stuff that happens to Iowa a lot. How many fake punt conversions is that against Iowa in recent years?
@marcmorehouse Yeah I just went through and confirmed them by hand. 6/6 have succeed. EIU '10, WISC '10, PSU '11, MSU '11, NIU '13, MSU '13
— Hawkeye Gamefilm (@hawkeyegamefilm) October 5, 2013
Today’s fake punt conversion would be the 7th attempt and 7th successful conversion on Iowa since the start of the 2010 season. Repeat: Seven attempted fake punts, seven successful fake punts on Iowa in the last three and a half seasons. I would hazard a guess that many coaches don’t have seven successful fake punt conversions against them in a career, much less three and a half years.
That fake was as backbreaker as it led to a field goal, which extended Michigan State’s lead to two possessions. Iowa’s offense didn’t have any answers and that was your ball game.
Here are some quick takeaways from this one:
THE OFFENSE: Not as good as we thought it was but I am not ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater here. They played against one of the Top Ten defenses in the nation and the defense that came into this game number one in the country against the run AND pass. Jake Rudock threw the ball 46 times, which will likely be his career high. This happened because Iowa could not run the ball; they managed 23 yards on 16 attempts. Michigan State will make a lot of teams look silly this year so I am not yet ready to give up on this offense.
THE DEFENSE: They were on the field a lot in this game as the offense didn’t gain a first down until nearly halftime. That said, they didn’t get any real pass rush with just the front four. They had to dial up blitzes and those didn’t get home and Cook looked great, which he had yet to look in his career. This group is going to be stout against the run, which you have to have. However their troubles against the pass could help to contribute to a bowl-less 2013 season, too.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Just a fail on the fake punt. Seven fake punt attempts that have been converted in three and a half years is squarely on the shoulders of Kirk Ferentz. Something is broken and he doesn’t know how to fix it. If he did, he would have done it by now. Iowa’s scheme appears broken; it’s a failure. Regarding the fake, Ferentz said the following on the radio after the game when asked about the fake punt by Ed Podolak:
“We may never return another punt. It’s just one of those things. That cost us three points and time off the clock. ”
With all due respect, it’s not just one of those things. Not when it’s the seventh time it’s happened to you in three and a half years without your team stopping it once.
HEALTH: At some point in this game Iowa had lost Brandon Scherff, Mark Weisman, Carl Davis, Kevonte Martin-Manley and Dominic Alvis to injury. Weisman barely played, KMM never saw the field in the second half and Alvis disappeared, too. Christian Kirksey also limped off the field late in garbage time. Iowa needs the bye week as this was a physical contest. Their games against Michigan State have exacted a heavy physical toll dating back to 2009 when Colin Sandeman and Dace Richardson were knocked out, among others. Ferentz said in the post game that he feels they dodged a bullet with Kirksey.
There will be plenty of time this bye week for midseason report cards and we’ll do that with every positional grouping. We learned a lot about this team on Saturday and most of it is concerning; they are not out of the woods yet and the second half of the season sees Iowa play four of six games against teams who are currently ranked. Michigan State was not a ranked team and neither is Wisconsin, who is also on Iowa’s schedule.
Here we go again? I’m not ready to write that yet but with a bye week and Iowa’s next game looking at The Shoe, it’s tough to find shreds of optimism.
Game Notes Provided by Iowa Sports Information:
QB Jake Rudock completed touchdown passes to Damon Bullock (47 yards) and C.J. Fiedorowicz (10 yards). He has eight touchdown passes this season, five of which have been for 20-plus yards.
After starting the game 1-4 for 5 yards, QB Jake Rudock finished the half completing 11 straight passes for 138 yards.
RB Damon Bullock’s 47-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter is the longest play Michigan State has allowed this season. It is also the longest reception of Bullock’s career.
Three Hawkeyes finished the game matching or setting career highs in receptions and yards. WR Tevaun Smith caught a career-best six passes for a career-high 59 yards. Smith’s 36-yard reception in the second quarter was a career long. RB Damon Bullock matched his career high with five catches for a career-high 71 yards. WR Matt Vandeberg caught a career-best four receptions for a career-high 36 yards.
LB James Morris and LB Anthony Hitchens led Iowa with a game-high 12 tackles. Senior LBs Anthony Hitchens and Christian Kirksey rank third and 11th, respectively, among Big Ten leading tacklers. Morris has been credited with double-digit tackle games 16 times in his career, while Hitchens has 11 double-digit tackle games. Morris moves into 13th place on Iowa career tackles list. He has 336 career stops, trailing Melvin Foster (337), Aaron Kampman (342), and Dave Haight (346) for a spot inside the top 10.
K Mike Meyer made two PAT attempts, increasing his streak to 102 consecutive PATs, which is the fourth-longest active streak in the nation and ranks fifth best all-time in the Big Ten.
LB James Morris recorded his third interception of the season today. The Hawkeyes have recorded nine interceptions through six games. Iowa has 92 interceptions since the start of 2008. Entering today, the Hawkeyes’ 91 interceptions over that period rank seventh in the nation.
TE C.J. Fiedorowicz caught three passes today to extend his streak of consecutive games with a reception to 24. WR Kevonte Martin-Manley saw his similar streak end at 23 games. Martin-Manley left the game in the second quarter with a right leg injury and did not return. Fiedorowicz has 70 catches for 666 yards over the last 24 games, and has caught all six career touchdowns during the streak.
CB Desmond King and SS John Lowdermilk both recorded career highs in tackles. King made 11 stops, and Lowdermilk finished with nine tackles.
Iowa held its opponent scoreless in the first quarter for the fifth straight game.
Iowa outscored Michigan State 14-10 in the second quarter. The Hawkeyes have outscored their opponents 86-20 in the second quarter this season.
Iowa lost the turnover battle for just the second time this season. The Hawkeyes are 0-2 in those games (Northern Illinois (Northern Illinois, -2; Michigan State, -1). Iowa is 4-0 when winning turnover margin.
The Hawkeyes have converted on 103 consecutive PATs without a miss or block, and 36 consecutive games without a missed or blocked PAT, the seventh-longest streak of any school in the nation.
Michigan State won the toss and elected to defer to the second half. Iowa has started the game on offense in 146-of-180 games under Kirk Ferentz, including three times this season. The Hawkeyes started on offense against Northern Illinois (L, 30-27), at Minnesota (W, 23-7), and against Michigan State (L, 26-14).
Iowa will be idle next Saturday before returning to action at Ohio State on Oct. 19 (2:30 p.m. CT). The contest in Columbus, Ohio, will be televised by ABC.