The Hawkeyes, who were unable to get their offense untracked all season, exploded for 464 total yards on offense including quarterback Drew Tate, who threw for a season high 340 yards and two touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the Spartans were fallling into a disturbing pattern that has followed them for seasons, dropping passes, committing penalities and in some cases, showing a lack of effort. All of which incensed Spartans head coach John L. Smith.
"I thought we grew this week, I thought we practiced harder, I thought that was a good deal for us, said Smith following the loss.
"But when we take the field out here, we're going to have to go execute [the way we practiced]. You have to give Iowa some credit, they're a good football team, they're more physical than we are. They pounded us. They got after us a little bit and I think we might have been a little intimidated at times."
Smith said the lack of execution and desire will force the coaching staff to look at simplifying the game plan and making roster changes.
"We're going to have to get some things in [the game plan] that the kids can handle. Right now, as I take a look at it, yes Iowa is a good football team, yes they got after us pretty good, but I look at us as coaches and say 'we'd better take a look in the mirror and see if we can analyze things and make us better.'"
Michigan State appears to have lost its identity of a tough, physical team that played hard even if it lost football games. Yesterday, missed tackles and dropped passes doomed the Spartans to defeat.
Even after supposedly being demoted to third on the depth chart, there was tight end Eric Knott in the ball game on a key possession in the red zone. Knott dropped what would have been a touchdown pass in the end zone from quarterback Drew Stanton.
The starter, Jason Randall, who was five yards ahead of the closest Iowa defender and inside the Iowa 20-yard line also dropped the football for what would have been a sure Spartan touchdown.
Additionally, twice the Spartans caught the ball just outside the end line. Matt Trannon had the ball briefly with one foot in bounds, but bobbled it rather than catching it cleanly, forcing the officials to rule it an incomplete pass. On the other play, officials ruled that Kyle Brown's catch was just outside the end line.
"Maybe we're asking the wrong people to make plays if you can't catch the ball. Let's get somebody in there and ask them to make a play."
"Some of those will happen from time-to-time but dog-gone it! [But ]We all have to make plays," said a clearly frustrated Smith.
A silver lining in yesterday's performance was the play of Terry Love. Smith indicated that the redshirt freshman Love would get extended playing time. The Illinois native came off the bench and led the Spartans with nine catches for 109 yards receiving.
"Terry Love had a great day and it was really good to see him go do that. We're going to use him a lot more as time goes on. He came in and did a good job so he's going to start to break into the alignment more."
Michigan State tackled poorly, particularly in the second half when the Iowa offensive line began to sense the Spartans were wilting. Instead of making a play and getting off the field, the Spartans seemed to lack the desire and intestinal fortitude to make the necessary play.
"It's just like the first touchdown run (47 yard by Jermelle Lewis), how many tackles did he break, three?," asked Smith. "You're there to make a play, you have to make a play or maybe we're asking too much of that individual if he can't make the play. So I think we'd better take a look at that."
But it was two of the better Spartans players who missed on the play. While senior walk-on Marshall Campbell had gained time due to some great special teams play, strong safety Eric Smith missed the tackle and Lewis beat linebacker Ronald Stanley to the corner.
With Iowa ahead 24-6 in the third quarter, Tate completed a crossing route to Calvin Davis. It appeared a couple of Spartans players who should have been pursuing on the play, gave up on it. Smith observations appeared to particularly come through in the second half when Iowa pounded the Spartans defense in the run game setting up play action passing.
On one particular play, when the Hawkeye executed a crossing route a couple of Spartans players appeeared to slow down instead of pursuing for the tackle.
Smith observations appeared to particularly come through in the second half when Iowa pounded the Spartans defense in the run game setting up play action passing.
On one particular play, when the Hawkeye executed a crossing route a couple of Spartans players appeeared to slow down instead of pursuing for the tackle. Those are the kinds of things that happened late in the Bobby Williams regime and are indicative of a lack of desire.
Smith and his staff must take the blame for two poor decisions. First, they called a time out when the Spartans were driving with :48 remaining in the half on 3rd down. Stanton pass to Trannon was incomplete, MSU then kicked a field goal, leaving :38 on the clock for Iowa.
Second, the Spartans ordered a squibbed kick, which Iowa's Champ Davis returned 32-yards, setting up a last second Iowa field goal, taking away the momentum from MSU who had dominated the second quarter.
"We should not have played as poorly as we did and all I can do is look in the mirror as a coach and say 'that's coaching'.
As coach Smith stated, it is time for the Michigan State coaching staff to look in the mirror.
They have to more than just give lip service to talk of roster changes and simplifying the game plan. They've said this before yet the same plays are being called and same players are making key mistakes.
The Spartans have a lot of work to do before hosting Illinois next Saturday.