Michigan State at Iowa

Michigan State hands Iowa first home loss

CBSSports.com wire reports

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 13th-ranked Michigan State 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.

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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.

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.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
QB Kirk Cousins reaches 8,000 career passing yards at Iowa as the No. 13 Spartans roll. (Getty Images)
QB Kirk Cousins reaches 8,000 career passing yards at Iowa as the No. 13 Spartans roll. (Getty Images)

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Scoring Summary
MISTB.J. Cunningham 6 yd pass from Kirk Cousins (Dan Conroy kick)
MISTEdwin Baker 17 yd pass from Kirk Cousins (Dan Conroy kick)
IAC.J. Fiedorowicz 8 yd pass from James Vandenberg (Mike Meyer kick)
MISTDan Conroy 22 yd FG
MISTLe'Veon Bell 25 yd run (Dan Conroy kick)
MISTB.J. Cunningham 22 yd pass from Kirk Cousins (Dan Conroy kick)
MISTDan Conroy 31 yd FG
IAMarvin McNutt 3 yd pass from James Vandenberg (Mike Meyer kick)
IAMarcus Coker 2 yd run (Mike Meyer kick)
MISTDan Conroy 48 yd FG
Team Stats
First Downs1920
Third Down Efficiency4-166-17
Fourth Down Efficiency1-11-2
Plays-Net Yards72-44377-349
Passing Yds288262
Kick Return Yds83132
Punt Return Yds188
Time of Poss.33:2426:36
Individual Stats
MIST: Le'Veon Bell 20-112, Edwin Baker 13-51, Brad Sonntag 1-5, Team 2--6, Kirk Cousins 4--7
IA: Marcus Coker 21-57, Marvin McNutt 2-27, Brad Rogers 1-2, James Vandenberg 6-1
MIST: Kirk Cousins 18-31-260-0, Keshawn Martin 1-1-28-0
IA: James Vandenberg 22-47-262-1
MIST: Brian Linthicum 5-71, Keshawn Martin 4-87, B.J. Cunningham 4-46, Le'Veon Bell 2-49, Keith Nichol 2-13, Edwin Baker 1-17, Todd Anderson 1-5
IA: Marvin McNutt 8-130, Steven Staggs 3-36, Zach Derby 3-31, Marcus Coker 3-24, Keenan Davis 2-18, C.J. Fiedorowicz 2-10, Kevonte Martin-Manley 1-13

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