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SB Nation's The Only Colors examines Michigan State's BCS prospects following the Spartans' loss to Iowa:
A less decisive loss would have been better for both bowl positioning and the team's psyche.
Still: 8-1. The "1" hurt a lot, killing whatever BCS Title Game hopes the team had. (And, for me, having any nonzero chance of getting to the BCS Title Game past the halfway mark of the season was an exciting experience). The "8," however, means there's still a lot of very meaningful Spartan football to be played this year. No "on to basketball season" this year--even for me. SpartanDan's updated projections have MSU with an 87% shot at taking home at least a share of the Big Ten title and a 42%+ chance of making the trip to Pasadena. MSU no longer controls its own destiny, but the words "Rose Bowl" are still in the mix of those potential destinies. That's quite a bit of something left to play/root for.
SB Nation's Black Heart Gold Pants celebrates junior cornerback Shaun Prater being named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week following the Hawkeyes' resounding upset of Michigan State. Prater had a career day against the Spartans, amassing ten tackles (seven solo) and an interception.
Prater becomes the third different Iowa defender to earn Defensive Player of the Week honors this year (joining Mike Daniels and Adrian Clayborn) and the fifth different Hawkeye to earn Player of the Week honors of any sort (Paki O'Meara got Special Teams Player of The Week honors after the Eastern Illinois game and Ricky Stanzi garnered Offensive Player of the Week plaudits after the Michigan win) this year, which is a pretty impressive collection of honors.
* How Michigan State decided after studying hours of game footage that picking on Prater, and not Hyde, would be the most effective offensive strategy is one of the great mysteries of the weekend.
Iowa City, IA (Sports Network) - Ricky Stanzi threw for 190 yards and three touchdowns, as 18th-ranked Iowa throttled previously unbeaten Michigan State, 37-6, to continue its home dominance over the Spartans at Kinnick Stadium.
The Hawkeyes (6-2, 3-1 Big Ten), looked at as one of the preseason favorites to win the conference, suffered their first Big Ten loss a week ago in a one- point home defeat to Wisconsin. Coming out of the gate with a sense of purpose, Iowa scored 37 points on its home turf before fifth-ranked Michigan State could crack the scoreboard.
The Spartans (8-1, 4-1) came in as the only undefeated team in the conference but instead looked like one of the bottom-feeders. With the loss, the Big Ten standings are a bit jumbled, as four teams have only one loss.
Adam Robinson added two touchdowns -- one rushing and one receiving -- for Iowa, which took full advantage of three turnovers. Its defense also got onto the scoreboard when Micah Hyde took a lateral from Tyler Sash off an interception and went 66 yards for a touchdown.
Kirk Cousins, playing in front of his Iowa season ticket-holding grandparents, couldn't give the Spartans their first win in Iowa City since 1989 after throwing three interceptions. He completed 21-of-29 passes for 198 yards and a touchdown in the loss.
Iowa moved 80 yards down the field on its opening drive to take the lead for good.
Stanzi needed to convert only one third down on the series, finishing the 12- play set on a three-yard toss to Colin Sandeman 6:12 into the contest.
Michigan State went three-and-out on its first touch, and Michael Meyer added a 37-yard field goal for Iowa a short time later. The Hawkeyes then expanded their lead on defense.
Cousins drove the Spartans into Hawkeyes territory before lofting up a soft pass toward the sideline that Sash snagged. Sensing he would be tackled, Sash tossed the ball back to Hyde, who was able to go across the field while avoiding defenders before diving inside the left pylon for a 66-yard touchdown return and a 17-0 lead.
Shaun Prater intercepted another Cousins pass early in the second quarter and returned it 42 yards to the MSU 43. Three plays later, Stanzi hit Robinson from 32 yards away for another touchdown and a 23-point cushion.
Before the end of the half, Robinson added a two-yard touchdown run with about a minute to go for a 30-0 halftime margin.
Iowa kept pouring it on in the second half with Stanzi's 22-yard touchdown pass to Marvin McNutt midway through the third, but Michigan State finally cracked the scoreboard on the first play of the fourth quarter when Cousins hit B.J. Cunningham from six yards out.
Michigan State has lost seven straight times on the road against Iowa...The Spartans had scored at least 26 points in every game this season...The Hawkeyes lead the all-time series, 22-18-2, and have won four of the last five...Sash recorded his 13th career interception for Iowa.
On Saturday, the No. 18 Hawkeyes aren't satisfied with a win over No. 5 Michigan State. They want a blowout. At least, that's the way it seems after another Ricky Stanzi touchdown pass brought Iowa's lead to 37-0.
Spartan quarterback Kirk Cousins threw his third interception of the game, thwarting an early third-quarter drive. A few minutes later, Ricky Stanzi followed up a pair of Adam Robinson runs with a 22-yard touchdown toss to Marvin McNutt. It was the third touchdown pass of the day for Stanzi, who is 10-for-14 with 182 yards.
Robinson, for his part, has helped to run out the clock, averaging 3.6 yards over 18 carries. He also has a 32-yard touchdown reception.
Will Michigan State suffer a shutout? Stay tuned to this StoryStream for updates.
Everything is going right for No. 18 Iowa on Saturday. If the Hawkeyes' 24-0 first-half lead wasn't sufficient evidence, the most recent drive surely is. Ricky Stanzi, who has looked quite sharp today, actually under-threw tight end Brad Herman. The ball was ripe for an interception, but Herman managed to adjust, catch the ball, and gallop for a 56-yard gain.
No. 5 Michigan State then shot itself in the foot by sending too many men on the field, resulting in a penalty, after which Adam Robinson plowed through for a short touchdown. Iowa now leads, 30-0, as the teams approach halftime, and it will take a comeback of historic proportions for the Spartans to preserve their undefeated record. Stay tuned to this StoryStream for updates.
It's only halfway through the second quarter, and No. 18 Iowa is well on its way to a rout of No. 5 Michigan State. Spartans quarterback Kirk Cousins threw his second interception of the first half, as Shaun Prater ran the ball 42 yards to give Iowa the ball in Spartan territory.
Three plays later, Ricky Stanzi connected with running back Adam Robinson for a 32-yard touchdown strike. The extra point was missed, but Iowa now holds a 24-0 lead.
Apart from the interceptions, Cousins has a decent line in the box score, going 10-of-13 for 73 yards. This is a deep hole to dig out of, especially on the road, but it was only earlier today that we saw Miami nearly erase a 24-0 deficit in a ten-minute span.
Michigan State now has the ball with just under six minutes left in the half. Stay tuned to this StoryStream for further updates.
It's difficult to ask for a much more heads-up defensive play than the one pulled off by Iowa's Tyler Sash and Micah Hyde. Late in the first quarter, Sash intercepted a throw from Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins. From there, he and Micah Hyde seemed to immediately transfer into "quarterback/running back" mode, as Sash flipped a lateral to Hyde.
Hyde then weaved all the way to the left side of the field, eventually diving just inside of the pylon for a touchdown. The extra point put No. 18 Iowa ahead of No. 5 Michigan State in the first quarter, 17-0. Stay tuned to this StoryStream for further updates.
No. 18 Iowa added to its first-quarter lead over No. 5 Michigan State with a 37-yard field goal from the foot of Michael Meyer. The drive, which started at the Iowa 19-yard line, was sparked when quarterback Ricky Stanzi scrambled for 26 yards on third down -- the longest run of his college career.
A 15-yard late hit penalty effectively made it a 41-yard play, and a few short gains placed the Hawkeyes in field goal range. Iowa now leads Michigan State late in the first quarter, 10-0. Stay tuned to this StoryStream for updates.
On Saturday in Iowa City, the No. 18 Hawkeyes marched right down the field on their first possession to take a 7-0 lead over No. 5 Michigan State. The Spartans forced Iowa to only one third down throughout the drive, which ended with a short touchdown throw from Ricky Stanzi to Colin Sandeman.
The drive was highlighted by a spectacular over-the-shoulder catch from Marvin McNutt, as he stretched out his arms to grab a floater from Stanzi. The Spartans, who have an undefeated record on the line, now take over early in the first quarter. Stay tuned to this StoryStream for updates.
SB Nation's Black Heart Gold Pants takes its weekly tongue-in-cheek look at all the reasons the Hawkeyes could lose to the Spartans this weekend:
So it turns out Kirk Ferentz is quite the rube. In week one against Eastern Illinois the Hawkeyes had completely shut down the lowly Panthers. It should have come as no surprise that the hapless Panthers would resort to deception out of desperation to get something, anything going. They settled on a fake punt from their own 20 yard line, which led to their only score. Flash forward to this past Saturday. With Iowa proving to be unstoppable offensively in the second half and with Wisconsin's increasingly slim BCS hopes slowly crumbling with each Iowa score, Bret Beliema dialed up the exact same punt fake which led to an eventual Badger victory. Now coming into town is the Big Ten's ultimate grifter, Mark Dantonio. Last year in desperation he ran a hook and ladder play to perfection that almost snatched victory from the jaws of defeat for his Spartans. This past Saturday he hoodwinked Pat Fitzgerald on a fake punt play called "Mouse Trap" and rallied for an improbable 35-27 victory. Earlier in the season the daring Spartans coach called for a fake field goal to beat Notre Dame, in overtime. Expect Dantonio to employ a season's worth of trickery past Ferentz while the Iowa coach blindly whistles through this season's graveyard.
Starting Michigan State cornerback Chris L. Rucker has been reinstated to the Spartans following a suspension for an alcohol-related arrest while on probation (whew). SB Nation's Michigan State community, The Only Colors, ponders Ruckers as-yet undetermined playing status for Saturday's game:
Anyway, I can see both sides of this issue. For those wanting him to play he's already missed two games and practice time, one could argue that's punishment enough. On the other hand, if one of the conditions of your probation stipulates that you can't drink, then DON'T DRINK WHEN YOU'RE ON PROBATION. We'll most likely find out more information soon on Coach Dantonio's radio show tonight.
The lone undefeated team in the Big Ten Conference goes in search of its ninth win of the season this Saturday, as the fifth-ranked Michigan State Spartans pull into Iowa City to take on the 18th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes.
Michigan State is 8-0 for the fifth time in school history, but just the first time since 1966. Coach Mark Dantonio's club looked as if its unblemished record would be no more last week, but 21 fourth-quarter points allowed the Spartans to slip past the Northwestern Wildcats, 35-27.
If MSU wins this game, it's conceivable it could run the table as only bouts with Minnesota, Purdue and Penn State remain -- the first two of which take place at home. The Spartans haven't won the Big Ten title since sharing it back in 1990.
Iowa had a three-game win streak snapped last weekend, falling at home to the Wisconsin Badgers in a 31-30 final. As a result, the Hawkeyes dropped to 5-2 on the year and 2-1 in conference.
Coach Kirk Ferentz hopes his team has what it takes to be in the thick of the Big Ten title chase a month from now, and it will be tested not only by the Spartans here, but also by Ohio State at home on November 20th. There are three other games (Indiana, Northwestern, Minnesota) on the docket for the Hawkeyes, but they all appear winnable.
Iowa holds a narrow lead in the all-time series with Michigan State, 21-18-2, and the Hawkeyes have won three of the last four meetings.
Kirk Cousins threw for 331 yards and three TDs, and the Spartans rallied in the final frame to remain perfect on the season as they won at Northwestern last Saturday, 35-27. Mark Dell was Cousins' favorite target in the game, catching nine balls for 109 yards and two scores, and B.J. Cunningham finished with eight grabs for 113 yards and a TD. RB Edwin Baker churned out 73 yards and a TD on just 10 carries for the Spartans, who piled up 457 total yards and generated 24 first downs.
Coach Dantonio had nothing but praise for Cousins and his ability to lead both on the field and off, "The way you go 8-0 is with players who can lead and when you build a program where there is a ripple effect from top down and where people believe in what is going on. Kirk Cousins is an unbelievable leader. Players follow him. Players make plays."
Tyler Hoover led the MSU defense with nine tackles against the Wildcats, two of which were sacks -- the Spartans credited with a whopping eight sacks on the day. In all, Northwestern was allowed 385 total yards, 170 of which came on the ground and 215 through the air.
For the season, the Spartans rank fourth in the Big Ten in scoring defense (17.9 ppg), second in pass efficiency defense (108.3) and third in turnover margin (+1.12). Greg Jones, one of the 15 semifinalists for the Butkus Award, is the team's leading tackler with 69, and he also has a pair of INTs and three forced fumbles to his credit. Overall, MSU defenders have come up with 13 picks and 18 sacks among their 41 TFLs this year.
Ricky Stanzi threw for 258 yards and three TDs, but it wasn't enough as the Hawkeyes fell at home by a single point to Wisconsin last week. Receivers Marvin McNutt and Derrell Johnson-Koulianos combined for 12 catches, 163 yards and two scores, while RB Adam Robinson powered his way to 114 yards and a TD on 23 carries.
Stanzi, who was recently named a semifinalist for the Davey O'Brien Award, has completed 124-of-182 passes for 1,732 yards and 16 TDs against only two INTs this season. He leads the Big Ten and is second in the nation in pass efficiency (174.9). Johnson-Koulianos, who has 30 receptions for 497 yards and eight TDs this year, is now tied for first place on Iowa's career receptions list, while Robinson has rushed for 100 yards in five of the team's seven games this fall.
The Iowa offense is generating 413 yards and 33.7 points per contest, with the pass (253.9 ypg) being the its most dangerous weapon. The run produces 159.1 ypg and has accounted for 12 TDs.
Tyler Sash logged a game-high 13 tackles, while Tyler Nielsen finished with 10 and Jeremiha Hunter added nine in last week's loss to the Badgers. Overall, the Hawkeyes allowed 347 total yards, 142 of which came via the ground attack, which also accounted for three TDs. Wisconsin converted three fourth-down attempts in the game, one on a fake punt late, to put itself in position for the win.
To this point in the 2010 campaign, the Hawkeyes rank second in the Big Ten in scoring defense (15.7 ppg), rushing defense (92.1 ypg), total defense (297.1 ypg) and turnover margin (+1.29), while coming in first in red-zone defense (.636). A lack of pressure on the QB has resulted in just 12 sacks, but Mike Daniels has three of them and he has combined with Adrian Clayborn to notch 14 of the team's 36 TFLs. Hunter sits atop the team's tackles list with 51, while Sash checks in with 45.
Coach Ferentz, while obviously disappointed with the outcome of last week's game, is optimistic about his team's chances moving forward.
"There's a lot of football left. We have a good team and we have to play better. We'll determine what's going to happen this season (in the coming days). Sure, it's going to hurt and it should, but we have games to play."
Although they've been perfect thus far, at least with respect to their record, the Spartans aren't without their flaws. Can they win this game? Sure. But something says they are on borrowed time and this Iowa club is as good, if not better than any MSU has faced to this point.
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