Iowa Falls at Michigan State, 17-10 Loss Puts Hawkeyes in B1G Hole
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By John Patchett (email@example.com)
The Iowa Hawkeyes dropped their first Big Ten opening road game in the last six seasons, losing 17-10 in yet another low-scoring close contest to the Michigan State Spartans. Iowa’s Defense played well enough to give the Hawkeyes a shot at the victory – but the Offense was stymied for most of the afternoon. Iowa’s punting went from mediocre to poor, leaving the Hawkeyes with bad field position more often than not. The loss puts Iowa in a big 0-2 hole in terms of contending for the Big Ten West Division Title.
The other major factor was the turnovers. The Spartans entered this game with a minus-six turnover margin, they had three costly mistakes last Saturday vs. Notre Dame but had none today. Iowa was sitting at net zero: seven gained, seven lost. But the Hawkeyes fumbled twice inside MSU territory which likely cost them the chance for a win: Quarterback Nate Stanley fumbled on the Spartans’ seven yard line and Wide Receiver Brandon Smith did so just across midfield.
Stanley was able to compete 16 passes on 31 attempts but remained stuck at 12 passing TDs. He also took a physical beating as the Spartans blitzed early, often, and relentlessly applied pressure all game long. Iowa is going to see every team left on its schedule do the same thing until Offensive Coordinator Brian Ferentz figures out how to make those teams pay more consistently for doing so.
Michigan State’s Defense was very good once again, holding Iowa to just 231 yards on 57 plays including only 19 net rushing yards. Running Back Akrum Wadley only mustered 30 yards on 17 carries – he did score the Hawkeyes only touchdown on a nine yard run early in the third quarter. It was his third of the season and 21st of his career.
Iowa’s Defense was led, as usual, by Linebacker Josey Jewell who finished with 16 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and a .5 sack. Those numbers should allow him to retain his Big Ten lead. Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, that total was more than the other starting linebackers combined. That’s an uncharacteristic stat for this veteran group.
Starting Punter Colton Rastetter continues to struggle and the Iowa coaching staff needs to seriously – and realistically – consider a change there and go to True Freshman Ryan Gersonde who appears to have a stronger leg. All too often in this game, Rastetter left Iowa’s Defense in horrible field position. His first three punts averaged just 35 yards with a net of a miserable 28.7 yards.
Place Kicker Miguel Recinos hit a 43 yard field goal with 9:08 left in the game and brought Iowa within seven points – but those were the last the Hawkeyes could muster.
This was the fourth straight game decided by seven points or less in games played between these two teams in East Lansing. Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz drops to 7-8 overall vs. the Spartans and 4-5 when facing off against MSU Head Coach Mark Dantonio. Michigan State has now won four of the last five games against the Hawkeyes, including the 2015 Big Ten Championship Game. Michigan State has played all four of its games at Spartan Stadium.
This was an early pivotal conference game for Iowa and it failed the final exam. Perhaps the best medicine for Iowa at this point in the season – especially the Offense – is the fact that Illinois comes into Kinnick Stadium next Saturday for the Homecoming. But the Offense has become so inconsistent – and the running game even more so – that Iowa can’t take anything for granted.
Iowa (3-2, 0-2) returns to Iowa City for its annual Homecoming Game – facing off against hapless Illinois (2-2, 0-1) at Kinnick Stadium. Michigan State (3-1, 1-0) goes on the road for the first time this season, traveling to Michigan in what will be the first ever night game in that in-state series.
Post-Game Notes – From Iowa Athletic Communications
Iowa at Michigan State Postgame Notes
Sept. 30, 2017
Michigan State (3-1, 1-0) defeated Iowa (3-2, 0-2), 17-10, at Spartan Stadium on Saturday.
Iowa’s last four trips to East Lansing have ended in one-possession games (2-2).
For the second week in a row, LB Josey Jewell tied career highs with 16 tackles and 3 tackles-for-loss. Jewell has 361 career tackles, tying Tom Rusk for eighth all-time. He passed Dave Haight (346), Bob Sanders (348), Matt Hughes (354) on Iowa’s all-time list. Jewell has 16 career games with double-digit tackles.
QB Nate Stanley was 16-for-31 for 197 yards. He has attempted 133 consecutive passes without throwing an interception.
RB Akrum Wadley had one rushing touchdown (9 yards) to raise his career total to 21, 10th all-time. Wadley has 27 career touchdowns and 162 career points, tying Ladell Betts for 16th all-time in scoring Wadley had 17 carries for 30 yards. He has 380 career carries for 2,131 yards, 13th all-time.
WR Matt VandeBerg had three receptions for 31 yards. He has at least one reception on 24 consecutive games played. He has 119 career receptions, 11th all-time. He passed Scott Chandler (117) and Clinton Solomon (118) on Iowa’s all-time receptions list.
TE T.J. Hockenson had three receptions, tying a career high. He had a career-high 46 yards receiving. Hockenson has eight receptions this year (1 touchdown, 7 first downs).
DT Nathan Bazata (8), DL A.J. Epenesa (3), and DB Michael Ojemudia (8) set career highs in tackles. LB Josey Jewell (16) and DE Anthony Nelson (6) tied career highs in tackles. Nelson added a sack, his team-high fourth of the season.
Nine different Hawkeyes caught a pass, including DE A.J. Epenesa, who caught a 15-yard pass from P Colten Rastetter. The completion and reception were career firsts for both.
Iowa won the toss and deferred to the second half. The Hawkeyes have played 232 games under head coach Kirk Ferentz. Iowa has opened the game on offense 179 times (109-70). The Hawkeyes have opened the game on defense 53 times (29-24).
Instant replay was used two times today:
- Nate Stanley fumble recovered by MSU (confirmed)
- MSU runner short of line-to-gain (confirmed)
The Hawkeyes host Illinois on Saturday, Oct. 7 at 11 a.m. (CT). The annual Homecoming contest will be televised on BTN.