Undefeated Iowa Gets Timeless Victory
The Hawkeyes beat the Spartans 15-13 on a seven-yard, last-second touchdown pass from Ricky Stanzi to Marvin McNutt.
Michigan State went up 13-9 on a Kirk Cousins-to-Blair White pass that went right down the middle for 30 yards. The pass came just two plays after an unbelievable hook-and-ladder involving White and tight end Brian Linthicum.
After the kickoff Iowa had just 1:32 to find the end zone.
Iowa quickly drove to MSU's 15 when Chris L. Rucker appeared to intercept Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi. However, Rucker was flagged for holding on the play, giving Iowa first-and-goal at the Spartan 7-yard-line. Stanzi threw three incomplete passes, leaving Iowa with fourth-and-goal and only two seconds remaining. Following a Hawkeye timeout, Stanzi hit McNutt in rush-hour traffic, silencing the Spartan Stadium crowd. They've seen this sort of situation unfold too many times before.
Once again Stanzi was far from wonderful, completing just 40 percent of his pass attempts. The Hawkeye quarterback is often hard to watch. He holds on to the ball too long. He throws across his body into double coverage. This is fine if you're Brett Favre, but Stanzi is not. However, at least tonight all of his completions were to Hawkeyes.
The game was played without a single turnover.
For Michigan State, this was its fourth loss overall and second in conference play. The Spartans' hopes of winning the Big Ten essentially died Saturday night. They officially die next Saturday if Iowa beats the doddering Indiana Hoosiers in Iowa City and MSU loses at Minnesota.
The Hawkeyes moved to 8-0, the best start in school history. They are beginning to take on the aura of a team of destiny, though such teams usually have at least a token offense. Then again, for all the complaining about Stanzi and the rest of the offense, they did move the ball 70 yards in 90 seconds. Stanzi's final pass into double coverage was exactly on target as well; McNutt was the only player with a chance at the ball.
For now, the Hawkeyes share control of the Big Ten with Ohio State, a team they face in Columbus in three weeks. However, a single Ohio State conference loss at any point before the end of the season would render that game moot. The Hawks could lose against the Buckeyes and still win the title as long as they didn't lose any other games.
Then again, every time this year it looked like Iowa was finally beaten, something incredible has happened to keep the dream season alive. Why assume that's going to stop now?