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Cousins leads No. 13 Michigan State past Iowa

Nov 13, 2011 - 2:45 AM Iowa City, IA (Sports Network) - Kirk Cousins had three touchdowns passes, all in the first half, as No. 13 Michigan State built a big lead Saturday on the way to defeating Iowa, 37-21.

Cousins threw touchdown passes to B.J. Cunningham and Edwin Baker for a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, then hit Cunningham again before halftime for a 31-7 advantage at the break.

He finished 18-of-31 for 260 yards for the Spartans (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) and Le'Veon Bell rushed for 112 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

"I thought we were able to run the football more effectively," Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio said. "I thought they ran with a mission in mind. It's all encompassing. Our team has to do this all together or it doesn't work."

James Vandenberg was 22-of-47 for 262 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for the Hawkeyes (6-4, 3-3) while Marcus Coker rushed for a score in the loss.

Michigan State has won six of its last seven and has two regular season game left: at home against Indiana and on the road at Northwestern.

Iowa, which has lost two of three, played its final home game and will finish on the road at Purdue and Nebraska.

Michigan State went 64 yards in eight plays on its first drive and Cousins threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Cunningham for a 7-0 lead.

Johnny Adams picked off Vandenberg two plays into the ensuing Iowa possession and returned it 30 yards, leading to Baker's leaping 17-yard touchdown catch in the right side of the end zone to make it 14-0.

Iowa scored early in the second quarter, on Vandenberg's eight-yard touchdown pass to tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz, but Michigan State pushed its lead to 31-7 by halftime.

Dan Conroy's 22-yard field goal, Bell's 25-yard touchdown run and Cunningham's 22-yard TD catch all came in the Spartans' last four drives in the half. Iowa fumbled a kickoff in between the last two touchdowns.

"They were a lot more ready to play than we were," said Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz. "They certainly did a great job in that first half, made it a real challenge for us."

Conroy added a 31-yard field goal in the third quarter and a 48-yarder in the fourth. In between, Iowa scored touchdowns on Vandenberg's three-yard pass to Marvin McNutt Jr. and Coker's two-yard run.

Game Notes

Michigan State snapped a two-game losing streak to Iowa, which still leads the all-time series 22-19-2. The Hawkeyes have lost five of the last 14 meetings, but Saturday's was the only one to come outside East Lansing.