Iowa looks to extend its regular season winning streak to 13 when it opens its Big Ten season against Michigan State at Spartan Stadium on Saturday.
The No. 13 Hawkeyes (4-0) are coming off a 21-2 win over Arizona State last week. Nathan Chandler threw three touchdown passes and Fred Russell rushed for 154 yards on 27 carries for Iowa, which also shut down yet another highly regarded quarterback.
After intercepting Miami of Ohio’s Ben Roethlisberger four times in a 21-3 season-opening win Aug. 30, the Hawkeyes forced Iowa State’s Andrew Walter to suffer through his least productive game as a starter.
Walter, who threw six touchdown passes in his first two games, finished 25-of-44 for 160 yards against Iowa, the lowest passing yardage total in his 13 starts.
“We certainly did not expect to have that kind of success,” said Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, who has guided his squad to a 24-8 mark in the last 32 games. “Walter’s an excellent quarterback, but our guys played well in all phases. When you do that, you have a chance, but I never really expected that.”
The win got the Hawkeyes off to their best start since 1997 and vaulted them up five spots in the AP Top 25 for the second straight week.
Iowa has not opened with five straight wins since 1995 and enters Saturday’s contest with a 10-game winning streak in the Big Ten, the longest active streak in the conference.
The Hawkeyes’ run in the Big Ten began with victories in their last two games of 2001, and is the second-longest in school history. Iowa won 13 straight conference games from Nov. 6, 1920-Oct. 13, 1923.
Iowa has held opponents to seven points or less in three of four games this season. The Hawkeyes defeated Iowa State 40-21 on Sept. 13.
Michigan State (3-1) rebounded from a 20-19 home loss to Louisiana Tech on Sept. 13 with its fourth straight win over Notre Dame, 22-16 last week.
Jaren Hayes had a 71-yard scoring run and Greg Taplin ran back an interception 40 yards for a touchdown as the Spartans won for the sixth time in seven games against the Irish.
Jeff Smoker, questionable for the game after missing the last three quarters against Louisiana Tech, was 13-of-27 for 119 yards with two interceptions.
“The bottom line is this win means a lot to our players,” Spartans coach John L. Smith said.
Michigan State came in with the nation’s third-worst pass defense, and allowed Notre Dame to throw for a season-high 202 yards.
But the Spartans boast the second-best rushing defense in the Big Ten at 40.1 yards per game.
Saturday’s game marks the 37th meeting between Iowa and Michigan State, with Iowa leading the series 18-16-2. The Hawkeyes, winners of five of the last seven meetings, are 8-8-1 against the Spartans in East Lansing.