Michigan State advances to Big Ten Playoffs

On Saturday, Dec. 5, the No. 4 Iowa Hawkeyes played the No. 5 Michigan State Spartans for the Big Ten Championship. The winner of this game would go on to the second annual College Playoffs. This was the first time that these two teams have met since Oct. 5, 2013, where Michigan State won 26-14.

Iowa came into the game with an undefeated record of 12-0 while Michigan was 11-1 on the season. Iowa was led on the the offensive side of the ball by junior quarterback C.J. Beathard and junior running back LeShun Daniels Jr while Michigan State was led by Big Ten Quarterback of the Year Connor Cook and true freshman L.J. Scott.

Iowa started the game off with the ball but fumbled on the second play of the game, allowing Michigan State to recover and march down the field and kick a field goal with 11:11 remaining in the first quarter.

Later in the first quarter Connor Cook throws an interception right into the hands of Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell. The Hawkeyes then marched down the field to Michigan State’s 8 yard line but couldn’t punch it in. They settled with a field goal leaving the game tied 3-3 with 5:08 left in the first quarter.

A minute and a half into the second quarter Iowa had a nice 9-play 42-yard drive which helped lead them to another field goal to take the lead 6-3. Michigan had the chance to tie the game with a 52-yard field goal attempt but it is missed off the crossbar.

Iowa again got the ball back and put together a great 9-play 60-yard drive all the way down to Michigan State’s 5-yard line, but defensive back Demetrious Cox had a circus interception off his teammate’s back, to prevent Iowa from scoring their first touchdown of the game.

A great defensive battle occurred among the two teams as the next five possessions ended in punts going back and forth among the two teams. Michigan State finally ended their scoreless streak with a 29-yard field goal to tie the game 6-6 with 4:23 remaining in the third.

After the field goal, Iowa went three and out, giving the Spartans another chance to score. Michigan State started a big drive against Iowa, getting themselves to the Iowa 27, but a crucial 15-yard pass interference call sent them back to Iowa’s 42-yard line. This resulted in once again, a Michigan State field goal, giving them the lead of 9-6 in the final minute of the third quarter.

Iowa got the ball back in the final seconds of the third quarter. The first play of the fourth quarter Iowa scored on an 85-yard bomb to Tevaun Smith to score the first touchdown of the game and give themselves the lead of 13-9 with 14:49 remaining in the game.

With 9:31 remaining in the fourth quarter the score is 13-9 Hawkeyes with Michigan State’s ball on their own 24. Michigan State then put together a classic 9:04, 22-play 82-yard drive in the final 10 minutes of the game.. L.J. Scott ran 14 times for 40 yards on the final drive and lunged into the endzone with one hand over an Iowa defender to score on the one yard run and give Michigan State the lead of 16-13 with 27 seconds remaining.

Iowa got the ball one final time and fumbled on the third play of the drive to seal the win for Michigan State, sending them to the college football playoffs and becoming the Big Ten Division Champions. Michigan State Senior Quarterback Connor Cook won the honor of being the game’s MVP.

Iowa will play Stanford in the 2016 Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, their first one in 25 years. Michigan State plays Alabama in the 2016 Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1. The winner of that game will go to the 2016 College Championship.