Sept 27, 2003
By JAMES PRICHARD
Associated Press Writer
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Jeff Smoker and Michigan State made quick work of No. 13 Iowa.
Smoker threw touchdown passes on Michigan State's first two possessions and broke three school career passing records in the Spartans' 20-10 victory Saturday. The Hawkeyes had won their previous 13 regular-season games.
Smoker, 28-of-44 for 218 yards, set school marks for completions (478), attempts (818) and touchdown passes (48).
He was 13-of-15 for 94 yards in the first quarter in the Big Ten opener for both teams.
"It gives you a tremendous boost and to get a win against a team like Iowa is just a great start," Smoker said.
He connected on all seven of his passes in the Spartans' 10-play, 80-yard opening drive, the last a 17-yard scoring strike to Ziehl Kavanaght. That TD pass broke the Michigan State record of 46 set by Bill Burke in 1999.
The Spartans (4-1) sometimes employed a hurry-up offense early on that appeared to confuse the Hawkeyes (4-1). Smoker, whose average completion went for 7.8 yards, drove his team downfield with a mix of screen passes and short crossing patterns.
"They changed things up, they came out in a little different offense and threw some screens at us. They took us out of our rhythm," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "That first drive was a thing of beauty, certainly."
Michigan State coach John L. Smith said it was important for his team to score early.
"That was huge," he said. "You let the offense work for you and you take what you can get."
Seth Mitchell is brought down by Iowa's Robert Gallery while returning an Iowa fumble during the second quarter.
On Iowa's third play from scrimmage, Nathan Chandler passed to Ramon Ochoa at the Hawkeyes' 41. Eric Smith immediately hit Ochoa, forcing a fumble that Michigan State's Jason Harmon recovered. Seven plays later, Smoker threw a 7-yard TD pass to Eric Knott.
Michigan State, which entered the game with the No. 3 rushing defense in NCAA Division I-A, recovered three Iowa fumbles, with the turnovers leading to a TD and two field goals.
"If you win the turnover battle, good things usually do happen," John L. Smith said.
Monquiz Wedlow, who sacked Chandler and caused him to fumble late in the first half, couldn't explain exactly what happened.
"I don't know, I just let loose," he said. "Anyone who doesn't have green on is going to get let loose on. That's the way you win games - you win the turnover battle."
On the first play of the second quarter, the Hawkeyes pulled to 14-7 when Chandler faked a handoff, rolled right and fired a 6-yard touchdown pass to Mike Follett, who was open in the end zone. It was Follett's first career scoring reception.
Chandler was 11-of-23 for 158 yards with one interception.
Iowa's Fred Russell ran for 122 yards on 23 carries. He averaged 123.5 rushing yards going into the game, which was the 13th-highest average in the nation.
Russell moved into ninth place on Iowa's career rushing chart. He has run for 2,021 yards.
Iowa's only other score came on Nate Kaeding's 23-yard field goal with 11:22 left in the third quarter.
The fumble recovery caused by Wedlow's sack of Chandler set up a 23-yard field goal by Dave Rayner with 22 seconds left in the first half that put the Spartans up 17-7. It was the first time this season that Iowa's defense allowed an opponent to score in the second quarter.
The Spartans' last score came on a 20-yard field goal by Rayner with about 10? minutes remaining in the game. He has made his last seven field-goal attempts.
Entering the game, Iowa had outscored its opponents 138-33.
The announced attendance was 72,276. It was the 30th straight sellout at Spartan Stadium.