By Courtney Baumann
While Wisconsin may not have necessarily been a trap game, that’s kind of what it felt like when the Iowa football team traveled to Madison, Wisconsin, to take on the No. 6 Badgers.
With the high of the Ohio State routing still in full effect, many expected Iowa to perform just as well against Wisconsin.
That didn’t happen. Not even close.
To be fair, the defense continued to be the anchor it has been all season. It held a Wisconsin offense that came into the game averaging more than 36 points to just 17 through the first three quarters. The two touchdowns the Badgers had in the fourth quarter were forgivable — the defense ended up spending nearly two-thirds of the game on the field and looked fatigued in the last quarter.
The offensive performance, though, was a complete 180 from what it was against the Buckeyes.
Iowa put up 66 yards of total offense. The team had 5 first downs, was 0-13 on third downs, and had 3 turnovers.
Put that next to the 487 yards, 24 first downs, 5-of-12 third-down conversions, and 0 turnover game that the Hawkeyes had last week, and that makes for a crazier roller-coaster ride than the Raging Bull at Six Flag Great America.
Wisconsin’s defensive line refused to let James Butler, Akrum Wadley, or Toren Young break loose, and even though the three running backs combined for 64 yards on 19 carries, Nate Stanley trimmed down the net number with minus-35 yards on 5 sacks.
Stanley and his receivers looked almost incompetent. The Iowa quarterback threw an interception and fumbled the ball while going 8-of-24 for just 41 yards. He finished the game with a 39.4 rating.
Cornerback Josh Jackson was the only player for Iowa to find the end zone. The offense put up 0 points through 60 minutes, and on the two Pick-6 plays that he had, Jackson garnered more yards (95) than the entire offense did throughout the game.
The game was just plain hard to watch and brought back bad memories of the Michigan State and Northwestern games. It makes it difficult to remember that the team has only lost four games and is bowl-eligible.
Iowa’s losses have completely overshadowed the fact that the team has two winnable games coming up, and the team could end the season with a respectable 8-4 record.
It’s typical Iowa football under Kirk Ferentz. Since the head coach took over in 1999, there have been 13 seasons in which the Hawkeyes finished the regular season with an 8-4 record or worse
It’s difficult to pinpoint why this season seems so much worse than any of those, but it could be that the Hawkeyes have been downright bad in all of their losses so far, with the exception of Penn State.
Iowa has combined for 609 total yards in its losses to Michigan State, Northwestern, and Wisconsin, and the offense contributed only 20 points all together. Including downs, Iowa turned over the ball wight times in those losses.
So while Iowa could definitely end the season 8-4, it will have work to do against Purdue and Nebraska. A 180-flip back to how the team clicked in the Ohio State game may not be necessary, but 66 yards and 0 points will not do the trick to move past two struggling teams.
We’ll just have to wait and see which Iowa team comes out to play on Saturday.