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Saturday, November 12, 2011
Final: Michigan State 37, Iowa 21

By Adam Rittenberg


IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Kinnick Stadium is no longer a haunted house for Michigan State, which has taken total control in the Legends Division.

The Spartans survived a brief Iowa surge to win here for the first time since 1989, ending a seven-game slide that included last year's 37-6 beatdown. They remain in control of their own fate in the Legends Division and could clinch the title next week against Indiana.

Credit the Spartans' offense for showing up in a big way after a lifeless effort at Nebraska. Michigan State offensive coordinator Dan Roushar called an excellent game and got a bunch of players involved, including tight end Brian Linthicum (5 catches, 71 yards). Quarterback Kirk Cousins tossed three touchdowns and received plenty of help from his receivers, his backs and his blockers, who controlled the line of scrimmage for most of the game.

The Spartans have to feel a lot better about their run game after today, as Le'Veon Bell (19 carries, 107 yards, TD) turned in an excellent performance and Edwin Baker also contributed. After scoring 26 points in its first three road games, the Spartans ignited today.

Michigan State's defense fought through some injuries and weathered the storm in the second half. The Spartans seemed to rattle James Vandenberg in the fourth quarter and did a very good job against Marcus Coker, the Big Ten's leading rusher, who was held to 57 yards on 21 carries. Marvin McNutt had a nice performance (8 catches, 130 yards, TD) in his final home game, but Iowa needed more contributors and far fewer mistakes.

Iowa committed three turnovers and simply made way too many errors in this game.

The Hawkeyes now must try to improve their bowl position in the final two weeks, while Michigan State has much bigger goals.