While all of that makes for a great pregame video, that’s not quite what Iowa did on the road against a Michigan State team that didn’t also lose last week; but were utterly embarrassed by Notre Dame. No matter what you thought of the final stand against Penn State, or what that would mean this week, I think most of us felt like we’d see an inspired Iowa team that would come out and show us that they belonged in the upper echelon of the Big Ten West.
That they didn’t believe in HANGOVERS.
Instead, all we got was STU... missing tooth and all:
From the opening drive, you cold tell that Iowa was going to be in for a long, long game in East Lansing. Brian Lewerke immediately noticed that Michael Ojemudia was getting the start over Manny Rugamba at the cornerback position and force fed Felton Davis over and over and over again.
It worked like a charm. The Spartans drove down the field for a 75-yard score; 67 of those yards coming at the expense of Ojemudia. Maybe a little rust? Surely, they won’t be able to do that all game... right? More on that later.
On offense, Iowa picked right back up from where they left off during their miserable stretches last week by losing the field position battle on their first two drives of the game. One of Iowa’s first eight plays went for a positive gain. ONE. I don’t understand anything anymore.
While that’s not always necessarily the end all be all for this Iowa team, they too usually have a solid special team unit that theoretically should be able to flip the field when their offense sputters.
I’m not sure if you all have noticed it before (let’s face it, you all noticed it, you’re Iowa fans) but Colten Rastetter is NOT getting the job done. I know he’s a “rugby” punter. I know that he’s most effective when he can get the ball to hit the ground and run. But with the tape that the Big Ten coaches have on his style and with Iowa punting out of their own endzone, all these teams have to do is run under the 30-ish yard punt and fair catch for AMAZING field position.
That’s exactly what the Spartans did.
On the next drive, Iowa held Michigan State to a 4th and short situation that of course got converted. Bo Bower got flagged for a facemask, Ojemudia got called for pass interference in the endzone and then got TORCHED on a fade route by his buddy, Mr. Davis, where he was all alone and didn’t even turn around:
14-0 in East Lansing. pic.twitter.com/UCEqw8GOfI— The Only Colors (@TheOnlyColors) September 30, 2017
If Iowa was going to stay in this game, they desperately needed a drive. Somehow, I figured they’d put one together. There is just something about this team that when they have needed to score, they’ve delivered (at least in their first four games). Even when it had to come against a defense that was loading up the box, pinning their ears back and launching their linebackers at the line of scrimmage, Brian Ferentz and Nate Stanley and Akrum Wadley figure it out.
And they would again.
After struggling on first and second down, Nate Stanley found everyone’s favorite freshman wideout of all time, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, on a beautiful back door throw to move the chains. Great adjustment by the kid. A few plays later, the Iowa offensive line finally figured out how to build a human wall again (they just had to pull the right guard) and Akrum Wadley scored on a 9-yard draw:
Much was the same for the rest of the quarter. Iowa couldn’t get ahead of the chains, were forced to punt from their own endzone way too much and the defense held strong. Rinse, wash, repeat.
With a few minutes left before Tom Polasek (probably) lost his shit in the locker room, the Spartans kicked a field goal to take a ten point lead in one of the most sluggish halves of Iowa football you’ll ever see (or so I thought).
While it was ugly, it was nice to see the Iowa defense shake off that early rust to continue their “bend but don’t break” ways. The Iowa offense hasn’t done them any favors in six quarters of football and yet these guys refuse to give up. The Outlaw wont let them.
Starting the third quarter, it looked like someone on offensive staff lit the team up (POLASEK!) before Iowa came out of the tunnel. For the second time all game, Iowa moved the ball on the ground and in the air to get into Spartan territory... only to spin their wheels once again.
Iowa needed some juice and Kirk Ferentz gave them the juice:
WHAAAAAAA? That’s the type of thing that always seems to happen to KF, not something KF does to other coaches. Stunning.
Like I mentioned earlier, when Iowa needs to put points on the board they alwa... UGH:
I mean, that was kind of awesome. MSU takes over after an Iowa red zone turnover. pic.twitter.com/NMUC92EP9y— The Only Colors (@TheOnlyColors) September 30, 2017
For some reason I feel like that was inevitable after the stunt KF and BF just pulled on Dantonio.
After the turnover, Michigan State makes a whole bunch of different decisions on an eventual fourth down that ultimately gets stuffed by the Iowa defense. The Hawkeyes (once again) drive down the field and give us all the (false) belief that they can pull this off... only to have freshman Brandon Smith fumble away the football and our dreams.
Ball security is job security. See you in 2019, B.Smith.
For the eighth straight quarter, the Hawkeyes depend on their defense to hold firm and keep this game in distance. Go (expletive) figure, the most tired unit in all of football (I’m talking NFL, college and high school) DO JUST THAT. Somehow, someway, they force the Spartans into taking a 48-yard field goal that Matt Coghlin misses wide right.
17-7, Sparty with 14:04 left in the 4th. Dreams are coming back into memory. Stanley and Wadley heroics begin to dance in my head.
Yes, I’m an idiot.
After a weird drive that consisted of some decent plays, some ugly plays, some mental football between the Spartans linebackers and Stanley who kept audibling to run plays that those same LB’s welcomed with open arms, Iowa was forced to kick a 43-yard field goal.
17-10, Sparty with 9:08 left in the 4th. Need a turnover. #NEEDATURNOVER. NEED A TURNOVER.
Thatttttttt didn’t happen. BUT, after Lewerke scrambled for some yards and Davis caught another pass (9 receptions for 114 yards at that point in the game) the Spartans once again were stifled and forced to punt.
Don’t worry though, this is the September 30th version of Iowa. Therefore they would eventually return the favor and punt back to Michigan State after a Nick Easley drop (one of a few by him today) that could’ve easily gone for a first down.
You know what happened next, right? Lewerke picks up a huge first down on third and long after Iowa burned two of their timeouts, the Iowa defense of course holds firm, forces the Spartans to punt (and punt again) to give this motorless offense ONE LAST CHANCE with :45 seconds and 84 yards.
17-10, Spartans win.
Just like last week, Iowa’s defense held true to their bargain. They held Michigan State to 17 points despite having to overcome multiple turnovers and shitty field position all game.
And just like last week, Iowa’s offense was well below par. The offensive line couldn’t force holes on a slanted Michigan State defensive line. The wideouts couldn’t catch balls that hit their hands. Nate Stanley couldn’t hit open receivers down field (weird). And Brian Ferentz laid another egg with his play calling.
This was all fine last week because of the environment, the point spread, the national exposure and, of course, the elite level with which this defense played against one of the most potent offenses in all of college football.
This week? It wasn’t cute anymore. It was annoying. It was the same old Iowa football that got people to start clamoring for Kirk Ferentz (and Greg Davis) to be fired before the Rose Bowl season. Being stubborn is fine when you win, but when you lose a game in which you score 10-points a week after scoring 19 against a superior Penn State defense?
That’s just inexcusable.
The tape has been out on how to beat Iowa for a week now. Too bad the coaching staff didn’t realize that other teams would copy it.
For eight quarters, the Iowa defense has done PLENTY to help this team stay undefeated. For eight quarters the offense revved their engines only to flood the entire thing.
And all of this in a week where Wisconsin looked beatable, Minnesota lost to a back-up’s back-up and Nebraska played Illinois.
I’m in a bad place. I’m sorry. But this offense has shown that it has way too many weapons and possible mismatches to be that poor two consecutive weeks in a row. This team is too good for me to be shaking my head at this: