FINAL: Hawkeyes trounce Spartans 49-7

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Darin Baydoun, General Assignment Reporter

IOWA CITY, IA – Last week against Michigan, Michigan State and coach Mel Tucker provided fans hope in a 27-24 upset that this could be the start of a brighter future for MSU football. 

It still may be, but after losing 49-7 to the Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday, it reaffirms the thought that it’s going to be a process getting to that point; a process where coaches, fans and players alike will probably have to deal with lumps like MSU suffered on Saturday. 

“This is the beginning for us,” Tucker said. “We trust the process that we have. We have to go back to East Lansing, watch the film, let them make the corrections and put in the work so we can play harder and smarter next week.” 

Tucker, though, wouldn’t put any stock into there being a letdown from last week, giving Iowa credit for setting the tone early 

“They came out and set the tone at the line of scrimmage and ran the football,” Tucker said. “I didn’t see any indications from a letdown standpoint. You have to give them credit, they came out and won the battle in the trenches.” 

Tucker’s certainly not wrong in that assessment. From the jump, Iowa was able to dominate the line of scrimmage in tune to finishing with a whopping 226 rushing yards compared to MSU’s 59.

In allowing a grand total of 405 yards, MSU’s defense couldn’t find an answer all game. Linebacker Antjuan Simmons said Iowa had an answer for everything MSU’s defense tried to throw at them. 

“They had a good response, especially in the first half to everything we were doing,” Simmons said. 

However, it doesn’t help when the offense can’t get going whatsoever. Finishing with only one touchdown, quarterback Rocky Lombardi’s attack looked much more like the mistake-prone unit that fans saw week one against Rutgers. 

Speaking of Lombardi, the native Iowan didn’t have anything close to the homecoming he expected, throwing three interceptions and completing a paltry 45% of his passes. 

“It was definitely tough, not what I wanted to do coming home,” Lombardi said. “Towards the middle of the game, we started to get down. In my head, I started feeling that I needed to do more than I should have, and that was a mistake obviously, and that’s something I can look back on and fix.” 

In order to have any hope of winning moving forward, he and the team will have to. 

It probably isn’t a coincidence that in both of MSU’s losses, the offense turned the ball over on its first drive. There won’t be any chances for progress if the Spartans can’t find ways to execute like they did against Michigan. 

That means Lombardi needs to continue to find the balance in the chances he takes. It means that Tucker needs to light a fire under both the offensive and defensive lines after being physically dominated. 

As Tucker said, it’s just the beginning. The Spartans may never quit, but today shows it’s going to take time to get them back to the level of competition fans became accustomed to in the past decade.

Darin Baydoun is a reporter for WDBM Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @BaydounDarin.