IOWA CITY — Michigan State broke off the longest running play of the game on the first play of the fourth quarter.
It was a 25-yard gain by punter Mike Sadler on a fake, extending a drive in which the Spartans would kick a field goal that made it a two-score game — the lead grew from 20-14 to 23-14.
What’s that play called, coach Mark Dantonio?
“Hey Diddle Diddle,” he said, smirking.
Why’s it called that?
“Send Sadler up the middle.”
Actually, the Spartans sent Sadler around a vacated right side — Iowa’s left.
The Hawkeyes, who returned two punts for touchdowns two weeks ago against Western Michigan, were perhaps a little greedy, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.
“We may never try to return one again,” Ferentz said.
Ferentz said Iowa — which gave up a 42-yard fake punt to Northern Illinois, leading to a field goal in the Huskies’ season-opening come-from-behind win — wasn’t necessarily caught napping.
“On theory you have it defended,” he said. “But if you’ve got guys turning and blocking, setting up a return, you’re vulnerable. It’s one of those things where maybe you can’t. It worked pretty well two weeks ago, and we paid for it today.”
Sadler’s run, which surpassed Iowa’s rushing total for the day, came on fourth-and-7, with the Spartans at their own 37.
“It sort of felt like if the moment was right we’d do it,” Dantonio said. “The players are at risk on the football field ... and sometimes the coaches need to take a risk, too.”