East Lansing, Mich. – For nearly four quarters, the Iowa offense just kept spinning its wheels in the East Lansing mud.
Despite 7 of its first 11 drives ending with a three-and-out, the Hawkeyes never lost the faith.
“That’s football, that’s playing in the Big Ten, that’s playing at Michigan State in a downpour,” Iowa senior quarterback James Vandenberg said. “Keep pushing, keep going … we’re going to get a break.”
It finally happened on the final drive in regulation. Iowa tied the game and went on to win 19-16 in double overtime Saturday in Spartan Stadium.
It was the 100th win at Iowa for coach Kirk Ferentz and moved the Hawkeyes to 4-2 overall and 2-0 in the Big Ten.
“You have to have some mental toughness to do that, because everything is not going to go the way you want,” Ferentz said. “Today was a great illustration of that.”
Things went south early for the Hawkeyes. Vandenberg had his third pass of the day tipped and intercepted.
Four plays later, big Michigan State back Le’Veon Bell rolled over and around the defense for a 14-yard touchdown run.
“We knew we kind of blew a gasket,” Iowa junior linebacker James Morris said. “We had two guys that were unblocked who missed tackles. You can’t do that.”
On a cool, rainy day between two of the Big Ten’s best defenses, points were hard to come by.
At the half, Iowa had three first downs and 65 offensive yards. The Hawkeyes had five three-and-outs on seven first-half drives.
“You learn from them, you talk about them,” senior receiver Keenan Davis said. “You don’t get mad that it happened and you don’t pout.
“You go to the bench and talk about what happened. Let’s fix it, let’s run it again.”
Iowa finally put together a 13-play, 76-yard drive at the end of the third quarter. It ended with a Mike Meyer field goal to make it 10-6. Michigan State (4-3, 1-2) matched it, forcing Iowa to get seven.
Something that they had not been able to all game.
“You have games like this where yards are hard to come by,” said Ferentz, who became a grandpa this week. “You just have to believe in what you do, who your are, and hopefully someone steps up and does something.”
The Iowa defense got Iowa the ball back with 5:47 to play. A clipping call moved the ball back and made Iowa start 1st-and-24.
One play later, Vandenberg connected with Davis for a 35-yard gain on a fly route along the right sideline. Vandenberg’s previous long on the day was for 11 yards.
“Huge play,” Ferentz said. “It wasn’t like we were clipping out a lot of first downs today. It was hard making a first down for a long time.”
Because of that, offensive coordinator Greg Davis wasn’t afraid to try a run on 3rd-and-6 from the MSU 45. Weisman, who had just 20 yards at half, uncorked a 37 yard run.
“They have a tough defense; they have guys out there that hit hard,” Weisman said. “Just keep going, keep going. You can’t quit out there. Keep on fighting, eventually good things will happen.”
Weisman — who finished with his fourth straight 100-yard game (26-116) — ended the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run to make it 13-13.
In overtime, the two teams traded field goals. Iowa started the second OT and only gained a yard, but Meyer bailed the offense out with a 42-yard field goal.
Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell then had his 31st pass deflected at the line by Louis Trinca-Pasat, it bounced off the hands of MSU receiver Keith Mumphery, and into the waiting hands of senior cornerback Greg Castillo.
“When you’re on the sidelines it’s very difficult to handle, and you’re just sort of stunned,” MSU coach Mark Dantonio said.
Maxwell finished 12-of-31 for 179 yards. Bell had 140 yards on 29 carries.
Vandenberg had 134 yards on 19-of-36 passing. Davis and Kevonte Martin-Manley each had six catches.
Iowa returns to action at 7 p.m. Saturday back in Kinnick Stadium against Penn State (4-2, 2-0).
“Whether it was the 100th or 10th (win), this is a game I’ll remember for a while just because of the way the guys battled and stuck with it,” Ferentz said.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football