Michigan State Spartans ride momentum into football game at Iowa


AP College Football Writer

Fresh off a surprising win over its in-state rival, Michigan State heads into its game at Iowa on Saturday feeling a lot better about itself than it did two weeks ago.

The Hawkeyes, on the other hand, are looking for answers after their first 0-2 start since 2000.

“Nothing about that feels good,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “But our focus and encouragement to our players is to focus on the remaining 80% of the season. There’s a lot of football left, and all of us know that we need to play better.”

Michigan State (1-1) and Iowa have met just twice since 2013, with the Spartans winning in the 2015 Big Ten championship game and at home in 2017.

Mel Tucker took over for Mark Dantonio this year, and it looked as if the Spartans would have a long slog after they committed seven turnovers and lost 38-27 at home to conference doormat Rutgers in the opener.

Michigan State rebounded with a 27-24 road win over then-No. 13 Michigan, with Rocky Lombardi throwing for a career-high 323 yards and freshman Ricky White breaking out with eight catches for 196 yards and a score.

“I’m proud of that, that Spartan Nation is pleased and excited about our program and about our win against the school down the road and bringing that Paul Bunyan trophy back to East Lansing,” Tucker said. “That’s a source of pride for all of our fans and all of our supporters.”

And now?

“We have to move on to the next opponent,” he said. “I’ve been in rivalry games before, won rivalry games. They’re a major accomplishment and they’re important for everyone involved. At some point, you have to move on to what’s next.”

The Hawkeyes also need to have short memories after opening the season with losses at Purdue and at home to Northwestern.

“We can’t dwell on the last week,” center Tyler Linderbaum said. “All the guys have forgotten about it and all we can do is move on to Michigan State — just keep winning the weeks, winning the days, and if we do that we might get the outcome we want.”