Iowa QB Jake Rudock shows knack for comebacks

Iowa junior quarterback Jake Rudock is at his best when the Hawkeyes are behind, not necessarily a great combination for Nebraska who has struggled to keep a lead.

Iowa CITY, Iowa (AP) — One of the many encouraging things Iowa has learned about junior quarterback Jake Rudock is that he plays his best when the Hawkeyes are behind.

Iowa hopes Rudock won't have to prove it again during Friday's home game against Nebraska.

Rudock displayed his knack for comebacks in last week's 26-24 loss to No. 14 Wisconsin, leading Iowa to touchdowns to its final three drives after falling behind 19-3.

Rudock, thanks in part to his late-game performances, enters the regular-season finale ranked second in the league in completion percentage (64.2) Rudock also has 14 touchdown passes against just four interceptions, the lowest total among Big Ten starters.

"The formula for our best players (is that) they improve during their careers. It only happens if they've got the right attitude, the right work ethic, the right mental toughness. Certainly Jake excels in all those areas," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.

Rudock has often been forced to throw more in the second half because his offense got off to a poor start. The Hawkeyes (7-4, 4-3 Big Ten), who typically focus on first establishing the run, having only outscored their opponents 160-153 in the first half this season.

But when Rudock has been asked to score points in bunches, he's typically come through.

Rudock threw a pair of TD passes in the final 2:52 to lead the Hawkeyes from 10 down in a 17-13 win over Ball State in September — including the third game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime of his career. With Iowa trailing Maryland 38-21 late in the fourth quarter, Rudock led Iowa to 119 yards and 10 points in just 99 seconds in a rally that ended a touchdown short.

The Badgers entered Kinnick Stadium with one of the nation's top-ranked defenses. Rudock picked it apart in the second half.

Rudock threw for 245 of his 311 yards after halftime. He found Kevonte Martin-Manley for a 20-yard touchdown on one of the best throws of his career, ran in another TD in from 3 yards out before finding Jake Duzey for a 9-yard touchdown with 5:01 left.

Wisconsin surrendered 412 yards to Iowa, the most it allowed this season. The majority of them came from Rudock's arm once the Hawkeyes fell behind.

"It's just you get into a rhythm," Rudock said. "Throwing the ball constantly always helps you get in a rhythm. Also receivers know we're throwing the ball more. But we also understand that we need to score, and defense play a little bit differently too."

Though some Iowa fans still clamor for backup C.J. Beathard, the truth is that Rudock could rank among Iowa's top quarterbacks by the time his career is finished.

Rudock, who forced Beathard back to the bench after Ferentz toyed briefly with the idea of a quarterback platoon in mid-season, is already eighth in school history with 4,557 yards and 32 TD passes heading into the game against the Cornhuskers (8-3, 4-3).

"He puts a lot of time into his preparation, takes great pride in it. Mental toughness, working through just putting the work in that's necessary," Ferentz said.

*** Posted by Josh Harvey ***


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