Iowa Suffers Heartbreak in Big Ten Title Game

Iowa gave it everything they had but fall short to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Iowa was perfect all year and they played well enough to be crowned Big Ten champions on Saturday night but were unable to hold off Michigan State in the final drive. The Spartans were tested all game, and especially at the goal line where it took five physical runs from L.J. Scott to finally push the ball across the goal line for the game winning score. Scott's touchdown rush gave Michigan State a 16-13 lead that they were able to hold.

Iowa's defense was stout all game, holding the Spartans to just 365 total yards. However, Michigan State used a final drive that lasted over 9 minutes and covered 82 yards on 22 plays to finally put the Hawkeyes away. 

The Iowa defense was responsible for keeping the team in it the entire game. They came up with stop after stop but couldn't get the final one to finish off the win. Josey Jewell played another great ball game, finishing the contest with eight tackles, four of them solo, and an interception as well. He also had two hits on the quarterback including one that had Spartan quarterback Connor Cook reeling for a moment.

Jaleel Johnson also did a spectacular job at controlling the line of scrimmage, along with Nate Meier, Parker Hesse, Matt Nelson, and Nathan Bazata. They won the matchup against the Michigan State offensive line which is no small feat. Jordan Lomax added 10 tackles while Cole Fisher recorded 9. 

Connor Cook was held in check as well. He only completed 50 percent of his passes for 191 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception. C.J. Beathard actually outplayed Cook. He was 18-26 for 216 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. The Hawkeye rushing attack could never get going which was a reason for the offensive issues and the scuffle as a whole. They only ran for 52 yards. Derrick Mitchell was the leading rusher with 24 yards. 

Wideout Tevaun Smith was the headliner with 5 catches for 110 yards and a touchdown. His 85 yard touchdown reception put Iowa ahead 13-9 late in the game. 

It was the Spartans' offense late that was the difference. Receiver Aaron Burbridge broke free a couple times to give the passing attack some life, along with the running game of L.J. Scott and Madre London. Scott tallied 73 yards while London collected 60. The Spartan offensive line did not have a dominant performance by any stretch, but they came through in the clutch at the end in a heck of a battle with the Iowa defensive line. 

It was a game of inches, and the Spartans grabbed that last inch for the win.


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