Michigan State wins defensive battle vs. Iowa
Brian Lewerke completed 18 of 28 pass attempts for 212 yards and two touchdowns, helping Michigan State defeat Iowa 17-10 on Saturday in its Big Ten Conference opener at East Lansing, Mich.
The last time the two teams met was the 2015 Big Ten championship, when the Spartans narrowly defeated the Hawkeyes 16-13 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Felton Davis III led the Spartans’ aerial attack, accounting for half the team’s receptions with nine grabs for 114 yards and two touchdowns.
Lewerke entered the game leading the team in total offense and paced the ground attack by carrying the ball 12 times for 42 yards.
Michigan State (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) looked the more physically dominant team, controlling the line of scrimmage and penetrating Iowa’s backfield seemingly every series, particularly in the second half. The Spartans held Iowa to 19 rushing yards on 25 carries, amounting to 0.8 yards per carry.
The Hawkeyes (3-2, 0-2) struggled to establish any rhythm offensively in the face of Michigan State’s stifling defense, and turnovers ultimately proved to be the difference. The Spartans had their first turnover-free game of the season, while Iowa’s turnovers cost resulted in significant swings in points and momentum.
Iowa’s only touchdown came on a 9-yard carry by Akrum Wadley after Michigan State had jumped out to an early 14-0 lead. Wadley finished with 17 carries for 30 yards in addition to the lone score.
Spartans linebacker Joe Bachie recovered a fumble by Iowa quarterback Nathan Stanley at the Michigan State 5-yard line after a 12 play, 62-yard drive that took 5:14. Stanley finished 16 of 31 for 197 yards, but never found the end zone despite entering the game as the Big Ten’s leading touchdown passer.
The ensuing drive ended with a turnover on downs after Michigan State, which had originally lined up in formation to kick a 53-yard field goal, attempted a short fourth-down conversion following a delay-of-game penalty on the Hawkeyes’ defense. Iowa stuffed Spartans running back LJ Scott at the line of scrimmage for no gain. Scott had 14 carries for 28 yards.
Any momentum from that stop was halted, however, when Hawkeyes wide receiver Brandon Smith fumbled at the end of a three-yard completion on a screen pass. Michigan State cornerback Josiah Scott forced the fumble and linebacker Chris Frey recovered and returned it 11 yards to the Spartan 41-yard line.
Iowa frantically attempted to muster a game-tying drive in the final minute following a 41-yard punt by Jake Harthbarger that pinned the Hawkeyes deep in their own territory. Facing fourth down with seconds remaining, Iowa was whistled for a false start that ended the game following a 10-second runoff.