IOWA CITY, Iowa - The Iowa offense exploded for 271 yards and 21 points against the Big Ten's No. 1-ranked defense in the second half Saturday. It begged the question - What the heck happened in the first 30 minutes?
"We were taking advantage of their man coverage more in the second half, taking shots down field, so it was a big difference," senior receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley said.
The Hawkeyes (7-4 overall, 4-3 Big Ten) managed just 141 yards and three points in the opening half of the 26-24 loss to Wisconsin. The Badgers entered the contest leading the nation in total defense (244.0 YPG) and ranked third in scoring (15.3 PPG).
After a first half of running directly into the teeth of Wisconsin's D and throwing horizontal passes, the Hawkeyes attacked down the field through the air. They completed seven passes of more than 20 yards following the intermission after registering just one before it.
"The quarterback threw some nice balls, did a nice job," Badgers Coach Gary Andersen said. "Our pass rushing was not good enough. To their credit, they blocked us well."
Iowa signal caller Jake Rudock connected on 10 of 14 passes for 99 yards in the first two quarters. After the break, he was 10 of 16 but for 212 with two touchdowns passing and one on the ground.
"We tried to change tempo a bit, kind of light a fire," Rudock said. "The coaches came together thinking we were going to do that and then came to me and we tried it, moving a little quicker."
"You go into every game with a plan," Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. "You guys have been covering us for awhile. Our goal is to be balanced. That's what we want to do.
"You get in the flow of a game and the game dictates what happens. I wouldn't say we were confident we would run the ball, but we were sure planning on trying it and we worked at that.
"They do a good job of taking that away. They're an excellent defensive team, players and coaches. And so we had to change the menu a little bit in that second half and it was anybody's ball game and we kind of made some plays in the passing game, which was good to see."
A strong case could be made that we saw it too late. Ferentz acknowledged disappointment when it was pointed out that his team put together three long touchdown drives against a stingy defense.
"We lost. There's nothing good about that. That's not on the books," he said. "But how you play is important and that's -- that old cliche about win or lose, that's a bunch of crap. Winning is what you work so hard for."
COMPLIMENTARY PIECE: Iowa's success on offense opened the eyes of some Badgers who had not experienced playing on their heels this season.
"They didn't give us a lot of time to get (to Rudock)," Wisconsin Linebacker Joe Schobert said. "They had a great plan against us in the pass game, obviously. We were just a couple of steps away a couple times to getting to him.
"To his credit, he hung in there and took shots to the chin, right in the chest, and he delivered the ball downfield. That was the best offensive line we played."
EXTRA-POINTS: Freshman Ike Boettger made his first career start. Boettger lined up outside left tackle on Iowa’s opening series. The Hawkeyes employed him as a sixth lineman also using at least one tight end and sometimes two early in the game….Bo Bower, a freshman outside linebacker, recorded a career-high seven tackles including three unassisted and one tackle for a loss…Rudock moved past Kyle McCann for No. 8 in career passing yards (4,557)…Martin-Manley had four receptions for 33 yards and one touchdown. He has 165 career receptions, five shy of tying Marvin McNutt (170) for No. 2 all-time. He has 1,713 career receiving yards, moving past Bill Happel for No. 14 all-time…safeties Johnny Lowdermilk (12) and Jordan Lomax (10) led Iowa in tackles.