Michigan State took advantage of a panicky James Vandenberg and turned a tip pass into an interception and an eventual touchdown during a 10-3 Michigan State lead in the first half.
Iowa tried to set up a screen, but MSU defensive end Will Gholston used his 6-7 frame to swallow up Vandenberg. Gholston tipped and linebacker Denicos Allen dove for the pick, giving the Spartans first down at Iowa’s 28.
From there, it was all running back Le’Veon Bell. The 6-2, 244-pounder carried all four plays and scored on a 14-yard run with 11:11 left in the first quarter. On the scoing play, he left linebacker Christian Kirksey frozen with a dead-leg move.
With the rain and the slick field, both passing games were hampered. The Spartans’ Andrew Maxwell completed a 38-yard crossing pattern to freshman wide receiver Aaron Burbridge to set up Dan Conroy’s 24-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead with 9:13 left in the first half.
Iowa had some excitement on its next possession.
Jordan Cotton scooped up the ensuing kick and leaked to the outside and broke free for an 80-yard TD. But no, there was a flag and it was an illegal block in the back on tight end Ray Hamilton.
Still, Iowa had first down at MSU’s 47 and was able to squeeze a field goal out of it. Iowa faced a third-and-goal from the Spartans’ 5, but Vandenberg threw low, the ball bounced off a helmet at the line of scrimmage and landed incomplete.
Mike Meyer made it 10-3 with a 23-yard field goal.
Stat of the first half was 13 rushes for 12 yards for the Hawkeyes. With sophomore Damon Bullock back in Iowa City with concussion symptoms, sophomore Mark Weisman was bottled up, rushing 11 times for 20 yards. He had nowhere to go. The Spartans crowded the line of scrimmage with as many as 10 defenders at times.
Michigan State clearly didn’t fear Iowa’s passing game, which went for 53 yards in the first half. Vandenberg was 8 of 16 for 53 yards.
Maxwell was 6 of 10 with 101 yards. Bell had 16 carries for 63 yards and the TD.
Iowa had starting field positions of MSU’s 47, MSU’s 47 and its own 46 and came away with just three points.
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