IOWA CITY– The Iowa Hawkeyes overcame slow start to score two touchdowns in the second quarter, but Michigan State stormed back with 16 unanswered points to pull away for a 26-14 victory and ruin homecoming at Kinnick Stadium.
The Hawkeyes came alive late in the half, led by quarterback Jake Rudock. Rudock completed a 47-yard pass to Damon Bullock to pull Iowa to 10-7. Three minutes later Rudock tossed a 10-yard touchdown to tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz to give Iowa the lead. For the quarter, Rudock was 11-for-11 for 138 yards.
That wasn’t nearly enough as Michigan State woke up in the third quarter to grab the lead for good. Connor Cook hit Bennie Fowler on a 37-yard touchdown pass. A fake punt on the next drive allowed Michael Geiger to kick a 49-yard field goal. Geiger had four field goals on the day.
The fake punt was the second time the Hawkeyes have been caught napping this season. Since 2010 the Hawkeyes have allowed six successful fake punts. They also gave up an onside kick to Missouri State earlier this season.
“We may never try to return one again,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It was our thinking to try and get the return, and to their credit they made a good call and it cost us a field goal.”
The Hawkeyes (4-2, 1-1) couldn’t generate a first-down until 6 minutes left in the half, falling behind 10-0. Macgarrett Kings scored on a 46-yard pass from Cook. Geiger added a 27-yard field goal for the Spartans (4-1, 1-0).
Iowa had a chance to pull close to start the fourth quarter when linebacker James Morris intercepted Cook on the MSU 36-yard line. The Hawks gained only 2 yards on three plays before Mike Meyer missed a 50-yard field-goal attempt.
“These guys play good defense,” Ferentz said. “It’s not anything that catches you off guard but it’s a challenge to move the ball and to score.”
Iowa’s offense look anemic at times, and the defense looked unprepared for a Michigan State offense that attempted 44 passes. The Hawkeyes managed only 15 yards of total offense in the first quarter. Iowa’s vaunted rushing attack, led by Weisman, finished with just 23 yards rushing. The Hawkeyes ran 62 plays after averaging nearly 80 in the first five games.
Cook finished 25-of-44 for 277 yards and two touchdowns for the Spartans.
The Hawkeyes lost lineman Dominic Alvis with hip and back injuries. Running back Mark Weisman also left the game with an ankle injury but returned later. Wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley missed much of the game with an undisclosed leg injury.