Final: Michigan State 16, Iowa 13

Key play: L.J. Scott scores game-winning touchdown on second effort

What. An. Effort. My goodness, what a run it was to sink the Hawkeyes. Needless to say, all of those squats that built Scott’s tree trunks for legs paid off in the biggest way. It was literally Iowa giving its best shot and Michigan State doing the same. In a game that was a defensive struggle like that, of course it had to come down to a second effort on the goal line to cap a 22-play drive. What an ending it was for a fittingly epic ending it was for the year that was in the B1G.

Telling stat: Iowa runs for just 52 yards

It wasn’t the best time for Iowa to have its season-worst rushing total. The Hawkeyes lost Jordan Canzeri, which obviously hurt, but this was more about Michigan State’s front seven continuing its dominance. The Spartans had seven tackles for loss, and got monster games from Shilique Calhoun and Darien Harris. For the first time all year, the Hawkeye offensive line struggled to get a push. Outside of that 85-yard touchdown from C.J. Beathard to Tevaun Smith, it was a struggle for Iowa to move the ball.

Worth noting:

-LJ Scott grew up on that last drive

Mark Dantonio, like Iowa, used a tailback-by-committee approach this season. On that final Michigan State drive, it was clear that he was going to give the ball to the true freshman and let him try to wear down the Iowa defense. Gerald Holmes did that against Ohio State and it set up the game-winning drive. You can bet that with Cook not looking 100 percent, that was his intention down the stretch. Scott has been in the doghouse a few times this year because he isn’t a complete back yet. But in terms of just getting downhill and breaking tackles, the guy showed he’s well beyond his years. It was the longest drive  of the season in all of FBS. It was grown man football at its finest.

-Jordan Canzeri goes down in first quarter

Iowa’s hottest tailback suffered an unfortunate setback early in the game. On a nine-yard run, he got his ankle caught up on the turf and he wasn’t able to return. Iowa made a living this year on the “next-man-up” philosophy at tailback, but without Canzeri, it was a tough go for the normally dominant ground game. LeShun Daniels couldn’t get anything going, neither could Akrum Wadley, who actually got the start. Go figure that Derrick Mitchell actually led the Hawkeyes in rushing. But on Saturday, that wasn’t saying much.

-Desmond King solidified his All-American status

It didn’t matter that King didn’t add to his NCAA-leading interception total. On Saturday night, against one of the best receivers in the country in Aaron Burbridge, King stepped up and delivered arguably his best performance of the year. The Walter Camp Award finalist broke up passes all over the field and prevented Cook from getting into a rhythm. A championship performance, it was.

What it means: Iowa belonged, and MSU belongs in the playoff

Iowa showed the world it belonged. Everybody that doubted the Hawkeye defense and said that they had no chance was eating its words. Iowa delivered one of the grittiest performances we’ve seen all year in the B1G, and it proved that it belongs among the nation’s elite. But MSU earned the right to move on. In a game of inches, the Spartans once again found a way. This wasn’t about Cook, either. This was about MSU once again getting tough and controlling its destiny. You can bet that nobody wants to play MSU in the College Football Playoff.