IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Connor Cook threw for a career-high 277 yards and two touchdowns and Michigan State opened Big Ten play with a 26-14 win over Iowa on Saturday.
Darqueze Dennard had a pair of interceptions for the Spartans (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten), who held the Hawkeyes (4-2, 1-1) scoreless in the second half.
Cook put Michigan State ahead to stay with a 37-yard TD pass to Bennie Fowler early in the third quarter. Freshman Michael Geiger added three field goals in the second half for the Spartans, who held Iowa to 23 yards rushing.
Mark Weisman ran for just nine yards on seven carries for the Hawkeyes, who lost for the first time since its season opener.
Michigan State was again led by its standout defense.
But the Spartans also came up huge on special teams.
Up 6 early in the fourth quarter, Michigan State pulled off a crucial fake punt. Mike Sadler ran for 25 yards, setting up a 49-yard field goal by Geiger that put the Spartans up 23-14 with 13:28 left.
Jake Rudock threw for 241 yards and two touchdowns for the Hawkeyes. But Dennard picked him off twice, including an interception with 5:09 left that largely ended the suspense.
Michigan State's defense entered play as the only one in the country allowing fewer than than 200 yards a game.
After about a quarter and a half, it looked like the Hawkeyes might not even reach 100.
But Iowa found some life in the passing game and quickly turned that 10-point deficit into a 14-10 halftime lead.
Rudock completed his last 11 passes of the first half for 138 yards and two touchdowns -- by far the best stretch of his young career.
That would be it for the Hawkeyes.
Cook -- who had hooked up with Macgarrett Kings on a 46-yard TD pass in the second quarter -- opened the second half with a long touchdown pass to Fowler that gave Michigan State a 17-14 lead.
The Spartans made it 20-14 on a 35-yarder late in the third quarter by Geiger -- who finished with a career-high four field goals.
Kevonte Martin-Manley, Iowa's leading receiver, missed most of the game with an undisclosed leg injury.
Kings had 94 yards receiving and Fowler had 92 for the Spartans.
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