EAST LANSING, Mich. — How was your Saturday?

The final attempted play pretty much summed things up for the Iowa football team’s day at Michigan State.

The Hawkeyes were flagged for a false start.

Iowa simply never got things going in its first Big Ten road test of the season, from a slow start to untimely turnovers and penalties, the Hawkeyes struggled throughout much of a 17-10 loss at Spartan Stadium.

“It’s hard to take because we know we’re a better team than this,” wide receiver Matt VandeBerg said. “It was a tough day all the way around.’’

Michigan State facilitated that, grabbing an early lead with an efficient start by quarterback Brian Lewerke and then riding the strength of a defense that limited Iowa to 19 yards rushing.

“We have a lot of work to do,’’ linebacker Josey Jewell said.

Coach Kirk Ferentz suggested that he didn’t see it coming.

He said the Hawkeyes had a good week of practice, but it didn’t show as Iowa fell behind 17-7 by halftime and then denied itself a chance to cut away at the deficit by fumbling the ball away on the first two possessions of the second half.

Field-position problems – the inability to sustain drives and short punts led to three of Iowa’s first six possessions of the game starting inside the Hawkeyes’ 10-yard line – and nine penalties combined to add to the headaches.

“We thought we had a solid week of preparation, but it didn’t show up in all areas,” Ferentz said.

Still, Iowa found itself in a one-possession game after Miguel Recinos pulled the Hawkeyes within 17-10 with 9 minutes, 8 seconds remaining in the game.

Iowa didn’t record another first down the remainder of the game.

A pair of incompletions after a 5-yard catch by VandeBerg forced a punt with three minutes, 50 seconds to play. When the Hawkeyes did force a Michigan State punt with 45 seconds to go, Nate Stanley fumbled and recovered as he was dropped for a nine-yard loss by Demetrius Cooper on second down.

Stanley did hit Noah Fant for an 11-yard gain on a third-and-19 play, but a false start on fourth-and-eight ended a long afternoon for the Hawkeyes.

“Their defensive pressure was pretty good all day. It was tough,’’ said Stanley, who connected on 11 of 18 passes in the second half after a 5 of 13 start.

Iowa turned the ball over just twice, but both fumbles proved costly.

The Hawkeyes marched 65 yards on the opening possession of the third quarter. In a third-and-goal situation from the Michigan State 5-yard line, Stanley lost his grip on the football as he attempted to avoid a sack.

“I’ve never had something like that happen before,’’ Stanley said.

The Spartans’ Joe Bachie fell on the ball at the 7 and Lewerke moved Michigan State to the Iowa 30-yard line before turning the ball over on downs.

Five plays later, Stanley hit Brandon Smith with an eight-yard pass, but the true freshman fumbled and Chris Frey gave the Spartans the football for the remainder of a scoreless third quarter.

Michigan State (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) scored all of its points in the first half, finding that two first-quarter touchdowns and a field goal in the final minute of the second quarter were enough to hand Iowa its second Big Ten loss in as many games.

The Spartans limited Akrum Wadley to 30 yards, 11 more than Iowa managed as a team as Stanley was sacked three times and the Spartans piled up nine tackles for a loss.

“The holes, they just weren’t there,’’ Wadley said.

Lewerke, who rushed for a team-high 42 yards in addition to completing 18 of 28 passes for 212 yards, hit Felton Davis with a pair of touchdown passes in the opening quarter.

Davis, who caught a career-high nine passes for 114 yards, opened the game with a 31-yard reception and was on the receiving end of touchdown passes of 22 and 6 yards that left the Hawkeyes (3-2, 0-2) in a 14-0 hole with 2:11 remaining in the first quarter.

Lewerke hit seven of his first 10 passes to get Michigan State to that point.

“We had some miscommunications on defense that let some guys get open,’’ cornerback Michael Ojemudia said. “It wasn’t the kind of start we wanted.’’

The finish didn’t prove to be much better.

“All we can do is go back to work, learn from it and get better,’’ tight end T.J. Hockenson said. “Tough day, real tough.’’

Michigan St. 17, Iowa 10

Iowa 0 7 0 3 — 10

Michigan St. 14 3 0 0 — 17

First quarter

MSU—F. Davis 22 pass from Lewerke (Coghlin kick), 11:50. (Drive: 7 plays, 75 yards, 3:10).

MSU—F. Davis 6 pass from Lewerke (Coghlin kick), 2:11. (Drive: 10 plays, 31 yards, 4:08).

Second quarter

Iowa—Wadley 9 run (Recinos kick), 12:15. (Drive: 10 plays, 72 yards, 4:51).

MSU—FG Coghlin 38, :43. (Drive: 7 plays, 16 yards, 2:50).

Fourth quarter

Iowa—FG Recinos 43, 9:08. (Drive: 8 plays, 45 yards, 4:56).

Att.—73,331

TEAM STATISTICS

Iowa MSU

First downs 12 19

Rushes-yards 25-19 40-88

Passing yards 212 212

Comp-att-int 17-32-0 18-28-0

Return yards 78 44

Punts-avg. 6-34.66 5-38.6

Fumbles-lost 3-2 1-0

Penalties-yards 7-47 9-65

Time of possession 26:26 33:34

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing

IOWA — Wadley 17-30, Kelly-Martin 1-minus 2, Team 1-minus 2, Stanley 6-minus 7.

MICHIGAN ST. — Lewerke 12-42, L. Scott 14-28, Rison 1-9, Holmes 4-8, London 6-4, Stewart 2-1, Ma. Sokol 1-minus 4.

Passing

IOWA — Rastetter 1-1-0, 15 yards, Stanley 16-31-0, 197 yards.

MICHIGAN ST. — Lewerke 18-28-0, 212 yards.

Receiving

IOWA — Hockenson 3-46, VandeBerg 3-31, Wadley 3-17, Easley 2-33, Fant 2-21, Smith-Marsette 1-31, Epenesa 1-15, Kelly-Martin 1-10, B. Smith 1-8.

MICHIGAN ST. — F. Davis 9-114, Ma. Sokol 2-24, Stewart 2-11, L. Nelson 1-23, White 1-17, T. Jackson 1-11, Chambers 1-10, L.Scott 1-2.

Tackles (solo-ast-total)

IOWA — Jewell 6-10-16, Ojemudia 4-4-8, Bazata 2-6-8, A. Nelson 2-4-6, Hooker 4-1-5, Taylor 4-0-4, Bower 0-3-3, Epenesa 1-2-3, Jackson 2-0-2, Hesse 0-2-2, Niemann 2-0-2, Hankins 1-0-1, Kluver 0-1-1, Dafney 0-1-1, Ward 0-1-1, Gervase 0-1-1, Clayberg 0-1-1, Jansen 0-1-1, Brincks 0-1-1, Lattimore 0-1-1, M. Nelson 1-0-1.

MICHIGAN ST. — Bachie 5-4-9, Willis 3-3-6, A. Dowell 0-5-5, Frey 1-4-5, Scott 3-1-4, Williams 2-2-4, Simmons 2-1-3, Cooper 2-1-3, Layne 0-2-2, Person 0-2-2, D. Dowell 1-1-2, Randle 1-1-2, Willekes 0-2-2, Bowers 0-2-2, Scanlon 0-1-1, Long 1-0-1, Owens 0-1-1, Panasiuk 0-1-1, Jones 1-0-1.

Tackles for loss

IOWA — Jewell 3-7, A. Nelson 1.5-3, Bazata 1-2, Hesse 0.5-2.

MICHIGAN ST. — Bachie 3.5-7, Willis 1-7, Cooper 1-6, Jones 1-4, A. Dowell 0.5-1, Frey 0.5-1, Williams 0.5-1, Willekes 0.5-0, Bowers 0.5-1.

Sacks

IOWA — A. Nelson 1-3, Jewell 0.5-0, Bazata 0.5-1.

MICHIGAN ST. — Bachie 1-3, Willis 1-7, Cooper 1-6.

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