By Pete Ruden
After one of the best wins in the Kirk Ferentz era in which the Hawkeye offense exploded for 487 yards and looked phenomenal against Ohio State, very few would have predicted a letdown such as the one Iowa suffered against Wisconsin on Nov. 11.
In its first game since stunning No. 3 Ohio State by 31 points, Iowa produced just 66 yards of offense in the 38-14 loss in Madison.
Quarterback Nate Stanley had his worst performance of the season by far against the stout Badger defense, completing just 8-of-24 passing for 41 yards and a pick.
Dropped passes and an offensive line that allowed 4 sacks contributed to the problem, but there was plenty of blame to slather around.
The numbers Stanley put up gave him a quarterback rating of 39.3, after recording a whopping 179.0 the previous week.
The ground attack was just as bad. Iowa couldn’t get anything going in the running game — Akrum Wadley rushed for 23 yards on 8 carries for an average of 2.9 yards a carry.
James Butler led the team with 30 yards on 8 carries. The team’s longest run of the day was a 9-yard scamper by Wadley, but things never got better.
Iowa was ranked No. 25 in the AP Poll in the week leading up to the game, but the 66 yards were the third least by any team ranked in the poll in the last 20 seasons.
It’s also tied for the fewest yards any Big Ten team has recorded this season.
Josh Jackson pick-6s: 2
Jackson was the one bright spot for Iowa.
Instead of the offense moving the ball and scoring points, Jackson took it upon himself to do it.
On his 2 interceptions — both taken back for touchdowns — Jackson totaled 95 return yards, 29 yards more than the Hawkeye offense totaled the entire game.
It’s rare enough for one player to have two pick-6s in a game, but for the same defensive player to score a team’s only points is even crazier.
Jackson also forced a fumble against the Badgers to ring up 3 of their turnovers.
Even though it wasn’t reflected in the final score, Wisconsin turned the ball over more than Iowa.
With Jackson’s help, the Hawkeyes forced 4 turnovers, as opposed to turning it over three times.
With 5 picks, 2 defensive touchdowns, and a forced fumble in the last two games, Jackson’s draft stock keeps rising.
He was already listed as a first rounder by Pro Football Focus, but if he keeps his playmaking up, he has the potential to be selected in the top half of the first round.
Third-down conversions: 0-13
The struggles the Hawkeyes had on offense translated directly to their third-down efficiency.
Iowa racked up five first downs against the Badgers, but none of them came when the team was facing third down.
The Hawkeyes averaged only 1.7 yards per pass and 1.0 yards per rush, so the trouble to convert is apparent.
The sacks and inability to move the ball put Iowa in a tough spot, and it showed all game.
The Hawkeyes did have one fourth-down conversion, but it’s hard to win games when most “drives” slink off to the elephants’ graveyard.