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 their season opener.
Michigan State was again led by its standout defense.
But the Spartans also came up huge on special teams.
Up six 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.
Rudock beat a Michigan State blitz by finding Damon Bullock in the flat for a 47-yard touchdown, and he hit C.J. Fiedorowicz for a 10-yard touchdown pass just before the half.
No. 19 Michigan 42, Minnesota 13
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Devin Gardner threw a 24-yard, go-ahead touchdown pass to Devin Funchess late in the first half and No. 19 Michigan pulled away to rout Minnesota.
The Wolverines (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) relied on their running game to take pressure off the turnover-prone Gardner. He didn’t throw an interception for the first time since making his first start as a quarterback last year at Minnesota.
The Golden Gophers (4-2, 0-2) were without coach Jerry Kill for an entire game for the first time because of his epilepsy. He had a seizure Saturday morning, when he planned to travel to Michigan to coach in the game, and remained home to rest in Minnesota.
The Wolverines have won 18 straight games at home, the longest active streak among BCS conference schools and their longest since winning 28 in a row in Ann Arbor from 1969-73.
Nebraska 39, Illinois 19
LINCOLN, Neb. — Ameer Abdullah ran for a career-high 225 yards and two touchdowns and Nebraska’s maligned defense was much improved.
Tommy Armstrong, starting his second straight game in place of injured quarterback Taylor Martinez, led the Cornhuskers (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten) to touchdowns on his first three series and was solid throughout.
Just as big as Armstrong’s performance was that of Nebraska’s defense, which had been one of the nation’s worst through four games.
Illinois (3-2, 0-1), which came in averaging 40 points a game, didn’t score its first touchdown until the middle of the third quarter. Twice when the Illini looked as if they would make a game of it, the Huskers made big stops.