Game Notes: Iowa vs. Michigan State

Nov. 30, 2015

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Iowa was 8-0 in Big Ten play and won the Big Ten West Division for the first time in program history. The Hawkeyes play Big Ten East Division co-champion Michigan State, who is making its third appearance in the title game. The winner earns the Amos Alonzo Stagg Championship Trophy. The four teams in the College Football Playoffs, along with the participants in the other New Year’s Six bowl games, will be announced at 11 a.m. CT on Sunday, Dec. 6. The Big Ten Championship game is in Indianapolis on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium. Kickoff is 7:17 p.m. (CT). The game will be televised nationally on FOX. Iowa will be the home team and wear its black jerseys.

Iowa is 12-0, 8-0, with wins over Illinois State (31-14), at Iowa State (31-17), Pittsburgh (27-24), North Texas (62-16), at Wisconsin (10-6), Illinois (29-20), at Northwestern (40-10), Maryland (31-15), at Indiana (35-27), Minnesota (40-35), Purdue (40-20), and at Nebraska (28-20). Michigan State is 11-1, 7-1, with its only loss coming at Nebraska (39-38). The Spartans have defeated Western Michigan (37-24), Oregon (31-28), Air Force (35-21), Central Michigan (30-10), Purdue (24-21), Rutgers (31-24), Michigan (27-23), Indiana (52-26), Maryland (24-7), Ohio State (17-14), and Penn State (55-16).

Iowa holds a 23-20-2 advantage in the series that began with a 21-7 Michigan State win in 1953. That first meeting, played in Iowa City on Sept. 26, 1953, marked MSU’s first game as a member of the Big Ten Conference. The teams have played two overtime contests, with Iowa winning both in double overtime (34-27 in 2007; 19-16 in 2012). Saturday is the first neutral site game between the schools. The Spartans won the most recent meeting, 26-14, in Iowa City in 2013.

Kirk Ferentz is in his 20th year as a college head coach and his 17th year as Iowa’s head coach. His career record is 139-106 and he is 127-85 at Iowa. He ranks eighth in the Big Ten Conference in overall coaching victories and is tied for seventh in league wins. Mark Dantonio is in his ninth season at Michigan State and his 12th season as a college head coach. His career record is 104-49 and he is 86-32 at Michigan State.

Iowa was ranked No. 4 in the Nov. 24 College Football Playoff poll, up one spot from its No. 5 ranking on Nov. 17. The next poll will be released Dec. 1. The top four teams announced on Sunday, Dec. 6 advance to the CFP semifinals on Dec. 31 at one of two locations: Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas; Capital One Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida. The semifinal winners advance to the National Championship Game on, Jan. 11 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

THREE PHASES OF @HawkeyeFootball
Iowa has its best start in program history (12-0), due to excelling in all three phases of the game.

#4 IOWA vs. #5 Michigan State
Date Nov. 30, 2015 | 7:17 p.m. (CT)
Location Indianapolis | Lucas Oil Stadium (66,700)
Radio Learfield Communications
Online Hawkeye All-Access

? Iowa has a balanced offense. Its 4,851 total yards are divided by 2,444 yards rushing, and 2,407 yards passing.
? Iowa has 35 rushing touchdowns, tying Ohio State for first in the Big Ten and seventh nationally.
? The Hawkeyes scored 30-plus points in five straight Big Ten games for the first time in school history.
? Iowa has six touchdown drives over 90 yards, 18 touchdown drives over 75 yards, and seven touchdown drives of two plays or fewer.
? Limiting turnovers (3 interceptions, 8 fumbles). The three pass interceptions are a school record for fewest in a single-season besting Iowa’s four in 2002.
? Iowa has allowed nine rushing touchdowns; tying Michigan for No. 1 in the conference and seventh nationally.
? Iowa leads the Big Ten in interceptions (17), takeaways (25), and turnover margin (+14).
? Limiting big plays: Iowa has allowed 12 scrimmage plays of 30-plus yards.
? Marshall Koehn’s 57-yard game-winning field goal vs. Pitt is the second longest in school history and the second longest in FBS this season.
? In 2014, Iowa averaged 5.1 yards per punt return, last in the Big Ten. In 2015, the Hawkeyes average 13.1 yards per punt return, third best in the conference.
? Desmond King ranks second in the Big Ten in kickoff returns (25.6 yards) and punt returns (13.3).

Iowa defensive end Parker Hesse was named Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Week for his performance in Iowa’s 28-20 win at Nebraska. The Big Ten honor is the first for Hesse (6-foot-3, 240-pounds), a native of Waukon, Iowa (Waukon HS), who redshirted in 2014. Hesse equaled his career best with six tackles in the win at Nebraska. With the scored tied in the second period, Hesse tipped a Cornhusker pass in the air, grabbed the deflection for his first career interception and ran four yards to the end zone for his first career touchdown. Hesse played in all 12 regular season games, with seven starts after taking over for injured senior Drew Ott. He has recorded 19 solo tackles and 19 assists, including three tackles for loss and two sacks. He also has one pass break-up, one caused fumble and one fumble recovery.

The Hawkeyes were 5-0 on the road with a pair of wins over ranked opponents (#18 Wisconsin; #20 Northwestern). Iowa is one of only five schools with multiple road wins over ranked opponents: Alabama (3), Michigan State (2), Ole Miss (2), and UCLA (2). Iowa won five road games for the fourth time in school history (1982, 1991, 2002). Iowa allows 16.0 points per game on the road, No. 2 in the Big Ten and No. 6 in the country. QB C.J. Beathard is 6-0 in his career on the road. This year he is 5-0 on 67-of-118 passing for 798 yards. He has thrown six touchdowns and two interceptions. He has also rushed 35 times for 134 yards and a touchdown.

? Saturday is the first neutral site meeting between the schools.
? Iowa is making its first appearance in the Big Ten Championship game. Michigan State is making its third appearance in the Big Ten Championship game. The Spartans lost to Wisconsin, 42-39, in the inaugural game in 2011, and defeated Ohio State, 34-10, in 2013.
? Kirk Ferentz is the longest tenured coach in the Big Ten (17 years). Mark Dantonio is third in Big Ten tenure (nine years) behind Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald (10 years). The other 11 conference head coaches have a combined 17 years of experience at their current Big Ten school.
? Iowa and Michigan State share the conference lead with 25 takeaways and turnover margin (+14).
? Iowa leads the Big Ten with 17 interceptions, Michigan State is second with 14. The schools are also 1-2 in interceptions lost. Iowa has thrown only three interceptions, Michigan State has thrown five.
? Michigan State converts 50.6 percent of its third down attempts, best in the Big Ten. Iowa converts 44.2 percent, No. 3 in the conference.
? Iowa averages 33.7 points per game, while Michigan State averages 33.4. Iowa’s 33.7 scoring average currently ranks fifth best in Iowa single-season annals.
? Iowa is 9-6-1 all-time in games played in December, with the only non-bowl game being a win over Hawai’i in 1984.
? Both Iowa and Michigan State offensive lines are finalists for the Joe Moore Award, which honor the top offensive line unit in the country.

Iowa reclaimed possession of all four of its rivalry trophies in 2015. It is the first time in program history (the Heroes Trophy was introduced in 2011) that Iowa has owned all four trophies. The Hawkeyes won trophy games against Iowa State (Cy-Hawk Trophy), Minnesota (Floyd of Rosedale) Wisconsin (Heartland Trophy), and Nebraska (Heroes). Iowa is also first-time owners of the Big Ten West Division Championship Trophy.


The Hawkeyes have outscored their opponents 71-23 in the first quarter, and 44-6 in the final two minutes of the first half. Iowa has trailed just five times this season, never by more than seven points. The Hawkeyes trailed by seven at Iowa State on two occasions, 10-3, 17-10. Iowa trailed 3-0 at Wisconsin, 7-6 against Illinois, and 17-14 at Indiana. The Hawkeyes have not trailed since the 3-minute mark in the second quarter against Indiana (14 quarters ago). In 720 minutes played, Iowa has trailed for 55:15.

Iowa’s offensive line has been named a finalist for the Joe Moore Award, which honors offensive line units that display a high level of toughness, effort, teamwork, physicality, tone setting and finishing. The Joe Moore Award winner will be announced Friday, Dec. 11. Other finalists include Alabama, Arkansas, Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Stanford. The Hawkeyes earned a “Game Ball” from the Joe Moore Award following wins at Iowa State and against Pitt. At Iowa State, Iowa’s offense rushed for 260 yards, averaging 5.8 yards per rushing attempt. Iowa controlled the fourth quarter with 10:55 in possession time, scoring two touchdowns in the final 2:14 to earn the road win. Against Pitt, the Hawkeyes owned more than a five minute advantage in time of possession and allowed just one sack, allowing QB C.J. Beathard to throw for then-career bests in completions (27), attempts (40), and yards (258). Iowa has rushed for over 200 yards in seven games. The Hawkeye offense has six touchdown drives over 90 yards and 18 touchdowns drives over 75 yards. Iowa scored over 30 points in five straight games for the first time ever. Iowa’s offensive line includes center Austin Blythe, tackles Cole Croston, Boone Myers and Ike Boettger, and guards Sean Welsh and Jordan Walsh. Blythe and Walsh are seniors, while Myers, Boettger and Welsh are sophomores. True freshman James Daniels has rotated in at the guard positions, and filled in at right tackle vs. Illinois. The Joe Moore Award is named after Joe Moore, widely regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches in college football history, and is the only major college football award to honor a unit.

Junior C.J. Beathard is one of only three Power 5 Conference quarterbacks to win each of their first 13 career starts since 2010. The others include Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, who led Auburn to the BCS National Championship in 2011 and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, who led Florida State to the 2014 BCS National Championship. Beathard’s record in 13 career starts includes a 6-0 mark on the road, a 7-0 mark at home, and an 8-0 mark in the Big Ten.

QB C.J. Beathard and the Hawkeyes’ rush defense have dominated the fourth quarter in 2015. Iowa’s rush defense, the No. 2 defense in the conference, has yielded 224 total rushing yards in the fourth quarter this season (18.7 yards per game). Beathard is 31-of-47 passing for 436 yards and three touchdowns. He has also rushed 18 times for 46 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter this season. He has engineered two game-winning drives in the fourth quarter (Iowa State and Pitt). He was 4-of-4 for 46 yards and a touchdown against Iowa State, and he rushed for 27 yards on three carries to set up K Marshall Koehn’s 57-yard game winning field goal against Pitt. In Iowa’s last 13 games, including the 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl, Beathard’s fourth quarter numbers include 38-of-54 passing for 531 yards and five touchdowns, and 20 carries for 84 yards and two touchdowns. Beathard did not play in the fourth quarter against North Texas.

Iowa has allowed nine rushing touchdowns this season, tying Michigan for the Big Ten lead and ranking seventh nationally. The Hawkeyes yield an average of 110.0 rushing yards per game, second best in the Big Ten and sixth nationally. Iowa limits its opponents to 3.4 yards per carry — third in the Big Ten and 13th best in the country. The Hawkeyes allowed just one rushing touchdown through the first eight weeks, but surrendered eight over the last four weeks (2 at Indiana, 3 vs. Minnesota, 1 vs. Purdue, 1 at Nebraska).

Iowa has returned four interceptions for touchdowns, more than any team in the Big Ten and is tied for second in the nation. Iowa leads the Big Ten and is tied for eighth in the country with 17 interceptions. Iowa’s four interceptions returned for touchdowns belong to Josey Jewell, 34; Bo Bower, 88; Desmond King, 88, and Parker Hesse, 4. The 88-yard interception returns by Bower and King tie for the seventh longest interception returns in school history. Iowa has at least one interception return for a touchdown in each of the last eight seasons, and 13 of the last 15 seasons. Michigan State ranks fifth in the country with five defensive touchdowns (three fumble and two interception returns).

Three Hawkeyes (Jordan Canzeri, 256, Akrum Wadley, 204; LeShun Daniels, 195) have combined for nine 100-yard rushing games this season: Canzeri (5x), Wadley (twice), and Daniels (twice). The last time the Hawkeyes had three different players rush for over 100 yards in a game in the same season was 2005: Albert Young (8x), and Shonn Greene and Damian Sims once each. The Hawkeyes also have three receivers with 100-yard receiving games: Matt VandeBerg (1), Tevaun Smith (1), and Jerminic Smith (1). It is the first time since 1995 three different Hawkeyes recorded 100-yard receiving games: Tim Dwight (2x), Demo Odems (1), Scott Slutzker (1).

For the first time in school history, Iowa had a different running back rush for 200 yards in consecutive games (Akrum Wadley at Northwestern and Jordan Canzeri vs. Illinois). Wadley recorded career highs in carries (26), rushing yards (204), and touchdowns (4) against the Wildcats on Oct. 17. Canzeri amassed 256 yards rushing on a school-record 43 attempts against the Fighting Illini on Oct. 10. The feat is the first time an FBS school had two different running backs eclipse 200 yards rushing in a game since 1996.

Iowa has been honored with six Big Ten weekly awards this season. QB C.J. Beathard earned the offensive award following Iowa’s win at Iowa State, PK Marshall Koehn was the special teams winner following Iowa’s last-second victory over Pittsburgh, DB Desmond King earned co-defensive honors for his play in Iowa’s win at Wisconsin, RB Jordan Canzeri earned the offensive honor for his play in a win over Illinois, RB Akrum Wadley earned the offensive honor following Iowa’s road win at Northwestern, and DE Parker Hesse was named Freshman of the Week in the win at Nebraska. Iowa’s three offensive award winners are the most for the program since 2002, when QB Brad Banks was recognized three times and TE Dallas Clark was honored once. The last time three different offensive players earned weekly conference honors was 1997 (Tavian Banks, Tim Dwight, and Rob Thein).

The Hawkeyes have used 14 first time starters: RB LeShun Daniels, Jr., LT Boone Myers, DT Nathan Bazata, DT Jaleel Johnson, LB Cole Fisher, LB Ben Niemann, SS Miles Taylor, TE Jameer Outsey, DE Parker Hesse, WR Riley McCarron, LT Cole Croston, WR Jerminic Smith, LG James Daniels, and RB Akrum Wadley.

Four true freshmen have played in 2015. OL James Daniels, WR Jerminic Smith, and WR Adrian Falconer all saw action in the season opener. LB Jack Hockaday saw his first action Week 7 at Northwestern. Smith started at Wisconsin, becoming the first Iowa freshman to start at wide receiver since Matt VandeBerg started two games in 2013. Daniels made his first career start at Northwestern, becoming the first true freshman to start on the offensive line since Bryan Bulaga in 2007. Daniels joined the Iowa program last spring and participated in spring practice.

Since 1999, Kirk Ferentz‘s first year as UI head coach, the Hawkeyes have had a future NFL player start on the offensive line in every season. In each of the last eight years, an eventual NFL first-round draft pick started on the offensive line. Brandon Scherff, selected by the Washington Redskins fifth overall in 2015, was Iowa’s left tackle from 2012-14. Riley Reiff, selected 23rd overall by the Detroit Lions in 2012, started at left tackle from 2010-11. Bryan Bulaga, selected 23rd overall by the Green Bay Packers in 2010, started at left guard in 2007 before moving to left tackle in 2008-09. From 2005-06, Baltimore Ravens All-Pro Marshal Yanda shared time at tackle and guard for the Hawkeyes. Mike Elgin, a seventh round selection of New England, was Iowa’s starting center in 2004. Pete McMahon, drafted by Oakland in 2005, was Iowa’s right guard in 2003. Oakland’s first round pick in 2004, Robert Gallery, was Iowa’s left tackle from 2001-03. Eric Steinbach (Cincinnati) started at guard for Iowa from 2000-02, and Bruce Nelson (Carolina) was a four-year starter from 1999-02. Both players were second round draft picks in 2003.

? The Hawkeyes did not face Big Ten opponents Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, and Rutgers during the regular season.
? Iowa won all four trophy games on its schedule in 2015: Iowa State (Cy-Hawk: W, 31-17), Wisconsin (Heartland; W, 10-6), Minnesota (Floyd of Rosedale: W, 40-35), and Nebraska (Heroes: W, 28-20).
? The Hawkeyes finished 5-0 on the road with a pair of wins over ranked opponents (#18 Wisconsin; #20 Northwestern). Iowa is one of only five schools with multiple road wins over ranked opponents: Alabama (3), Michigan State (2), Ole Miss (2), and UCLA (2).
? Iowa was 4-0 in the month of November for the first time since 1991.
? Iowa is playing in December for just the 17th time. The Hawkeyes are 9-6-1 all-time in the month of December.

Kirk Ferentz is in his 17th season as Iowa’s head football coach and ranks second in longevity among FBS head coaches. Ferentz is first among Big Ten coaches and nationally ranks behind Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer (28), who will retire at the end of the season. Ferentz is tied for second with Bob Stoops of Oklahoma.

Iowa will learn its postseason destination and opponent on Sunday, Dec. 6. The New Year’s Six bowl games, and the CFP participants, will be announced on ESPN at 11 a.m. All bowl game assignments will be announced later in the day.

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