In probably the biggest match-up in the history of the Iowa/Iowa State series, the Hawkeyes fell short in their attempt for victory. The Cyclone's peformance didn't necessarily earn themselves the victory, but rather, the Hawks lack of good performance and execution.
In the one shining light for the Hawks, it would be that seniors Ladell Betts and Kahlill Hill paced the Hawkeye offense, once again. Ladell Betts went over 1000 yards this season for the second consecutive season, with 25 carries for 150 yards, finishing with 1,056 yards this season. Despite an early special teams turnover by Hill, he played a very solid game at receiver, including a huge pass in the early part of the 3rd quarter that helped get the Hawks back down the field. That eventually lead to the Hawks first score, and put them back into the ball game.
The Hawks were able to contain the rushing attack of the Cyclones, holding Ennis Haywood and Seneca Wallace to 82 yards rushing combined. Wallace, however, killed Iowa with his passing. He did throw his share of dangerous passes, but the Hawkeyes were unable to come up with the big play for the majority of the game, until Grant Steen picked off Wallace's pass at ISU's 32. However, when trying to return it, ISU WR Craig Campbell came from behind to strip the ball. This put momentum back in Iowa State's favor and they were able to put together a drive that didn't give the Hawks the ball back until 3:42 left in the ball game.
The Hawks did reach one first down, but then Kyle McCann's pass was picked off by ISU Safety Adam Runk with 1:37 remaining in the ball game. It wasn't just the throw that was bad, but McCann's inability to find open receivers in Dallas Clark and Kahlill Hill.
Coach Ferentz is going to have to take a closer look at Iowa's offensive strategy late in ball games. What has seemed to be ineffective for Iowa is the fact that their big targets aren't the go-to-guys late in the ball game. All successful teams go to their big targets when the game is on the line, but Kahlill Hill has yet to be given the ball late in the game when its on the line. Instead of going to Hill, Betts, or Clark late in the ball game, the Hawks, instead, went towards Jeremy Allen and the 4th passing option, Chris Oliver. Hawk fans, also, have to ask themselves why Brad Banks was given only one series to lead the Hawks? He was the first QB to get Iowa into scoring position, but was quickly taken out of the game. When Bank's inexperience is brought up next year in close ball games, Coach Ferentz will clearly have to blame himself for not getting Banks the minutes he deserved this season.
Now the Hawks will have to be patient and see what bowl game they qualify for, while Iowa State has likely earned themselves in a bowl such as the Alamo or Independence Bowl. The Hawks still have a chance to qualify for the Alamo or Sun Bowl, but chances appear a lot more slim now. At least, the Hawks will have extra month of practice to gain many of these promising underclassmen on the team more a chance to learn the system.