Sometimes you can escape college football games with little to no offensive rhythm or success. Today was not one of those days. The Hawkeyes only gained 3.9 yards per play. They averaged about three yards a carry and didn't top 100 yards on the ground. They barely completed 50 percent of their passes for 153 yards. They were only 2-13 on third downs. Wisconsin had the ball on offense for over 14 minutes longer than the Hawkeyes. There's not one offensive stat that was good news for Iowa.
PUTRID PASSING GAME
The offense was pretty challenged in the passing game before the injuries to Matt VandeBerg and George Kittle. Those are the two best weapons for quarterback C.J. Beathard. And without them, there's little firepower. They did try to incorporate Akrum Wadley more into it but it's just not enough. This is the part of the game that has to improve the most over the next couple weeks and in the bye week. Once they can make defenses honor the pass, the ground game should find holes, creases, and more space to operate. But right now defenses don't have to honor it, can load the box, and take away the run. This is just an offense that is too one-dimensional. The passing game can be defeated by simple man coverage with little to no safety help. The protection wasn't bad today but guys aren't getting open, they're dropping balls, and the timing is off between the signal caller and wideouts.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz mentioned in his postgame press conference that with the by week, it'll be an opportunity to work in new players that can possibly help the team but haven't had an opportunity to do so yet. It can get younger players and more backups more practice reps and experience and supply rest and recovery from those players that are in need of it. How do I interpret that? I think Ferentz knows there's some positions in need of an upgrade. They've tried to perform with the core unit for eight games and they're falling short in some areas. It is time to experiment and offer an opportunity for others at certain spots and to create more depth.
GOODBYE TO INDIANAPOLIS?
Wisconsin's win over Iowa knots their conference record up with the Badgers holding the tie-breaker. Nebraska is still undefeated in the league and are facing Purdue today. Northwestern remains in the mix with their impressive win over Indiana. Iowa needs a lot of help now after falling to the Badgers and games against Michigan and Nebraska still loom. Statistically they are not out of the race but it doesn't seem realistic that Iowa finds their way back to a repeat trip to Indy after today's loss.
IOWA MISSES ON MY KEYS
The three keys to an Iowa win in my estimation heading into this one was to be +2 in the turnover battle, getting off to a fast start, and breaking a big play or two in the passing game. They completed none of those. The Hawkeyes were only +1 in turnover margin, neither team got off to a fast start, and the big plays in the passing game went the way of the Badgers. Not enough went their way. If two of those went their way, they probably land a win. Getting zero made it nearly impossible. It has to be even more disappointing because Wisconsin did their best to allow Iowa to claw out a victory.