When looking back at the statistics from Iowa’s 28-14 win over Missouri State on Saturday, it is beyond me how the Hawkeyes managed to only win by 14 points and hold another small lead in the fourth quarter against a much inferior opponent.
The numbers are mind-boggling really. Here are a few examples.
-- RUSHING YARDS – Iowa 296, Missouri State 70
-- TOTAL YARDS – Iowa 489, Missouri State 197
-- FIRST DOWNS – Iowa 25, Missouri State 12
-- TIME OF POSSESSION – Iowa 36:37, Missouri State 21:42
The Hawkeyes also were 7-of-14 on third down and converted four of their six times in the red zone. The other two resulted in a short missed field goal by Mike Meyer and a turnover on downs inside the 2-yard line. And the officials gave the Hawkeyes a bogus spot on fourth and one on that one.
So as you can see, Iowa (1-1) dominated on paper. And for the most part, were in control of the game the entire way.
The most frustrating thing is that the Hawkeyes can’t seem to put away inferior teams. It seems like every single game the team plays in will come down to the final 5 minutes of every game.
Iowa led 7-0 at halftime. And then after going up 21-0 in the third quarter, had to sweat out its first win in eight tries as the Bears rolled off 14 straight points – including a pick 6 against Iowa sophomore QB Jake Rudock – and forced the Hawkeyes to make plays down the stretch.
It wasn’t until there was around 10 minutes in the game that Iowa finally had what most fans thought was enough breathing room to claim the win. Rudock scored his second rushing TD of the game when plunged over the line from 1-yard out. That made it 28-14 and the Hawkeyes would go on to win by that same margin.
It is hard to understand just how a team can dominate the game as much as Iowa did and still have to sweat out a victory.
If Meyer hits a short field goal – like we are accustomed to seeing – and Iowa gets an accurate spot on fourth and one, then the game likely would have been out of reach sooner.
The Hawkeyes also should never have to worry about not picking up a first down on fourth and one against one of the worst FCS teams in the nation.
It should be a foregone conclusion.
Not with this Iowa team. Not very much in the Kirk Ferentz era.
Hawkeye fans need to expect close games. They need to accept that the talented and experienced teams win them and teams like the last three seasons just don’t.
Iowa be taking a 2-0 record into Iowa State next weekend. The Hawkeyes had Northern Illinois beat with a 10-point lead with 5 minutes to go.
The Huskies though made the plays late in the game and knocked off the Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium, a place where Iowa is just 4-9 in its last 13 games.
Instead of being 2-0, Iowa is barely 1-1 and has officially left most of the fan base wondering if things will ever get better.
If you can’t blow out a bad FCS team, then how can you consistently compete in the Big Ten Conference?
I can answer that question. You can’t. It is as simple as that.
It is possible that Iowa continues to get better. They are not very far off after all. But a program that used to improve as the season went on has clearly not done that the past three seasons either.
The Hawkeye started 4-2 last year and 2-0 in the Big Ten before losing six straight and finishing 4-8, 2-6.
It just doesn’t appear to be getting any better.
The running game was amazing on Saturday as Mark Weisman ran for 180 yards and two scores. The backs as a whole gained nearly 300 rushing yards.
Rudock made one mistake – the pick 6 that made things interesting in the fourth quarter. What he did well was hook up with 10 different receivers on the day. Nobody caught more than three passes but several guys got in the mix, which could help things down the stretch. Seven of Rudock’s 19 completions also were caught by the talented crop of tight ends.
The defense continued to play well. The offense left the unit in bad situations again, but the Hawkeye defenders only gave up seven points on their end. That will win you every game you play moving forward, no matter how inconsistent the offense is.
Missouri State should never be within seven points of any Iowa team at halftime. And the Bears certainly shouldn’t be able to rally to within seven in the fourth quarter.
The attendance was just 64,201. That is the lowest crowd to watch an Iowa game at Kinnick Stadium since 2003. And something tells me it had little to do with the increasingly high temperatures.
Iowa committed 11 penalties for 100 yards on Saturday. That won’t win you any games against better opponents. There were some personal fouls that hurt but the biggest penalties to me are the ones that turn a third and one into a third and six or a third five into a third and 10. Those kind of penalties mostly due to lack of concentration and it derailed several drives against Missouri State.
Mark Weisman – The junior tailback showed us why he became such a popular player last year. If he stays healthy, the offense will be better than last year without a doubt. He is a difference maker in the backfield and will help wear down opposing defenses in the second half.
Two more true freshmen played Saturday. Cornerback Desmond King played significant snaps in the secondary last week against Northern lllinois. Today, running back Matt Vandeberg and LaShun Daniels joined the party.
Vandeberg caught back-to-back passes from Rudock on his first two plays from scrimmage in the first half. He will continue to become popular in Hawkeye Nation if veterans Don Shumpert and Jordan Cotton can’t consistently catch the ball.
Daniels reminds Iowa fans of Shonn Greene. He is big, athletic and can provide the Hawkeye offense with another option to spell Weisman.
Daniels ran for 30 yards on 6 carries, while Vandeberg caught two passes for 17 yards.