Iowa City - Playing upon a recent theme, this one was over long before all the votes were even counted. All week long the Spartans talked about putting the win over Michigan in the rearview mirror and making sure to keep the focus forward heading into Iowa City. But from the Hawkeyes opening drive, it was obvious that this was not the same team that went into Michigan Stadium last weekend and physically dominated the Wolverines in the trenches on both sides of the ball. On Saturday, the defense looked more like wet cardboard as the Hawkeyes plowed over the Spartans with 405 yards of total offense including a methodical ground attack that generated 226 yards rushing. Conversely, MSU failed to win the battles upfront as the offense sputtered with just 1.9 yards per rush and was forced to throw the ball after falling behind 35-0 at the half.
This was a colossal letdown and breakdown on every level; offense, defense, and special teams. Tucker's team had an opportunity to prove that last week's win in Ann Arbor was a sign that the culture Tucker so often preaches about was taking hold and creating confidence in East Lansing that had evaporated in Mark Dantonio's final season. This wasn't as much a case of the better team winning on Saturday as it was a team not living up to a past performance by showing a competitive level it was capable of.
Coming off a career performance last week in the win over Michigan Rocky Lombardi scarcely resembled the calm and capable field general who exposed every weakness the Wolverines defense provided. Instead, the junior quarterback who returned to his home state looking to curate lasting memories among his family and friends put on a performance that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Constantly under pressure and struggled to find any type of rhythm, consistency, or balance against the Hawkeyes defense, Lombardi threw three interceptions on Saturday as MSU was held to just seven points.
Admittedly, this one was hard to watch. Not because there is reason to believe that Iowa wouldn't win, but because of the way the Spartans lost. In a blowout, so predictably after what could have been one of the most fortifying wins in recent program history just the week before. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around and just eight minutes remained in the game, Lombardi, who made a name for himself in the very same state as one of the top wrestler's in high school, couldn't get up off the mat and was forced to watch the remainder of this lopsided six touchdown defeat from the bench.
Any goodwill Spartan fans salvaged following the bounce back after the loss against Rutgers has been unceremoniously buried after that beatdown at Kinnick Stadium.