The "battle of the running backs" turned out to be a defensive battle, as Michigan State (5-1, 2-0 in the Big Ten) topped Iowa (3-3, 0-2 in the Big Ten) in East Lansing on Saturday, 16-13.
Iowa limited the No. 2 running back in the country, Javon Ringer, to just 91 yards rushing—30 of which came on one breakout run in the fourth quarter. The No. 2 running back in the Big Ten, Iowa's Shonn Greene, topped 100 yards but never made it into the end zone.
Turnovers once again plagued the Iowa Hawkeyes, who coughed up two fumbles. Ricky Stanzi, starting his third career game at quarterback, threw one interception and no touchdowns. Part of the reason for his lack of offense was a hard-nosed Michigan State defense that sacked him three times. Two fumbles in the red zone (one by Stanzi) led to seven Michigan State points.
Shonn Greene rushed for 158 yards, his seventh career 100-yard rushing game. The Iowa sophomore showed no signs of lingering damage from the hit that knocked him out of the Northwestern game last weekend.
Keep your eyes on this kid—he's a bulldozer who will be getting a lot of attention the rest of this year. Greene ran through the first tackler a ridiculous 23 of 27 times in the nationally-televised contest.
Hawkeye fans are going to be blowing up the message boards regarding Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz. They had two chances to kick a field goal to put themselves into position to tie the game, and came up empty both times.
On a fourth-and-two early in the fourth quarter, Ferentz elected to go with a passing play instead of hand the ball to Greene. Stanzi's pass was incomplete, and Iowa turned the ball over to Michigan State deep into Spartan territory.
Iowa scored 10 unanswered points in the second half but couldn't finish their final drive for the win. With a chance to send the game into overtime, on a fourth-and-one and with 2:28 to go in the game, Ferentz decided to play for the win and go for a first down. Shonn Greene got the ball this time, and was resoundingly stopped for a two-yard loss by the Michigan State defense.
The No. 2 running back in the country, Javon Ringer, was shut down by the Hawkeyes. Ringer looked relatively human as he ran 25 times for 91 total yards and no touchdowns. He showed some gusto in the fourth quarter against a tired Iowa defense, but failed to break the game open against the Hawkeye defense.
Michigan State's Brian Hoyer went 13-for-24 with 184 passing yards with one touchdown and a fourth quarter interception. It wasn't a memorable performance, but it was enough to win the ballgame.