The Michigan State football team rolled into Iowa City Saturday with only one thought in mind, their destiny was in their own hands. After a convincing defeat of the Hawkeyes that fact stayed the same with two regular season games remaining on their 2011 schedule.
MSU came out firing on all cylinders early, posting a 14-0 lead before the midway point of the first quarter. Senior quarterback Kirk Cousins first found his top WR B.J. Cunningham in the back of the end zone, and then RB Edwin Baker for his second scoring throw following an impressive interception by Johnny Adams which set up good field position for the Spartan offense.
Iowa was able to get into the scoring column on the first play of the second quarter on an eight-yard pass play, but quickly handed over any momentum gained allowing the Spartans to tally 17 more before the first half was through. Up and coming halfback LeVeon Bell broke a few tackles on a simple draw play to take it in from 25 yards out late in the second quarter.
Iowa return man Jordan Bernstine subsequently fumbled the ensuing kickoff over to Sparty who capitalized on the mistake when Cousins threw his third TD pass, again to Cunningham, to take a 31-7 lead. Iowa drove down the field in the final couple minutes of the half, aided in large part by a bogus unnecessary roughness call while QB James Vandenberg appeared to be headed out of bounds but had yet to actually exit the field of play.
Due to the questionable call the Hawks were able to get within field goal range with just a few seconds left in the half, but it was all for naught as Spartan defensive behemoth Jerel Worthy elevated to get a hand on the kick and knock it to the ground as time in the half expired with the scoreboard remaining at 31-7.
State came out with no holds barred in the second half featuring a flea-flicker pass by wideout Keshawn Martin and a fake field goal conversion on a fourth down play on the way to three points on their second possession of the third quarter.
The Hawkeyes, however, refused to die, answering with a touchdown on a risky fourth down pass play inside the 5-yard line to WR Marvin McNutt. Following a forced three and out of the MSU offense on the next posession Iowa came out and drove 80 yards to put in their second TD of the quarter, and bring the deflated crowd back to life.
After a missed field goal by Spartan kicker Dan Conroy early in the fourth quarter Iowa looked to capitalize on the momentum they built in the third, but turned the ball over on downs after a somewhat controversial false start call turned 4th & 1 to 4th & 6, and a Vandenberg pass fell harmlessly to the turf.
Michigan State squandered the opportunity to put the game out of reach with another three and out, failing to convert on third down for the sixth time in the half. A forced punt on the Hawks next possession, however, led to a 48 yard Field Goal by Conroy to put the Spartans up 16.
A red zone fumble by Iowa inside the three-minute mark sealed the deal for the Spartans as they secured their eighth victory of the season 37-21.
Michigan State heads back to East Lansing to host the Indiana Hoosiers next Saturday after taking another huge step in their quest to represent the Legends division in the first Big Ten Championship game at the end of the season. They are in control of their own destiny, and have put themselves in great position to have a chance at a Rose Bowl birth come season's end.