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November 12, 2011

Cousins Gets Redemption, Game Ball in Iowa City



IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Kirk Cousins threw for 260 yards and three touchdowns and 13th-ranked Michigan State beat Iowa 37-21 to take control of the Big Ten's Legends Division.

B.J. Cunningham caught a pair of TD passes for the Spartans, who snapped a seven-game losing streak at Iowa dating back to 1989. The win also made MSU's senior class the winningest senior class in school history with 34 victories.

Michigan State (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) took a commanding 31-7 lead with two touchdowns in a 36-second stretch late in the second quarter. Cunningham followed Le'Veon Bell's 25-yard TD run with a 22-yard touchdown catch to put Michigan State up by 24 at the break.

The Spartans can now earn a spot in the Big Ten title game with wins over Indiana and Northwestern in the next two weeks.

James Vandenberg threw for 262 yards and two touchdowns for Iowa (6-4, 3-3), which lost its first home game of the season.

Save for a brief flash of life out of Iowa late in the third quarter, the Spartans coasted to a payback win over the Hawkeyes after getting pounded 37-6 last season in Iowa City.

Iowa quickly cut a 34-7 deficit to 13 points on McNutt's 3-yard TD catch and a 2-yard touchdown run by Marcus Coker. But Iowa got too cute trying a hurry-up sneak on 4th-and-1 and was called for a false start, and Vandenberg's next pass fell incomplete with 10:16 left.

Dan Conroy hit a 48-yard field goal with 5:11 left, and Tony Lippett's fumble recovery with 2:53 to go sealed the win for the Spartans.

Michigan State never got going in last year's loss to Iowa. The Spartans had been unbeaten until that game.

It took less than six minutes for Michigan State to top that terrible performance.

Cousins found Cunningham alone in the middle of the end zone for a 6-yard TD pass, putting the Spartans ahead 7-0 after their first drive.

Cousins then followed a pick by Johnny Adams with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Edwin Baker to give Michigan State a 14-0 lead with 7:37 left in the first quarter.

In less than half of a quarter, the Spartans had more points than they had scored in each of their previous three road games.

Iowa's answer came seven seconds into the second, as Vandenberg found sophomore C.J. Fiedorowicz for his first career TD grab from eight yards out. But safety Tanner Miller went for an interception of Cousins and missed, allowing Keshawn Martin to go 67 yards and set up a 22-yard field goal from Conroy.

That put the Spartans ahead 17-7 - and they weren't through yet.

Bell, who ran for 112 yards, went straight up the middle of Iowa's defense for a 25-yard touchdown run with 1:57 left in the second quarter, and Jordan Bernstine fumbled the kickoff right back to Michigan State.

That set the stage for a leaping touchdown grab by Cunningham, giving Michigan State a 31-7 lead.

It was a complete role reversal from last season's game, which Iowa led 30-0 at halftime, and ended Iowa's slim hopes of landing in the inaugural Big Ten title game.

The misery didn't stop there for the Hawkeyes either, as Michigan State successfully converted a fake field goal in the third quarter with a 24-point lead.

Iowa only got 57 yards rushing from Coker, the Big Ten's leading rusher entering the game.


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