It was a storyline that a lot of kids probably pretend to be in when fantasizing about playing college football: you start a drive with the score tied and less than two minutes left in the game, and you’re out of time outs.
All you have to do is use the remaining time on the clock to get down inside the red zone to give your kicker a good shot at making a 30-something yard kick and hope that the kick is true. If not, the worst-case scenario is that you go to overtime.
That’s the exact situation the Iowa Hawkeyes found themselves in yesterday when they took over possession of the ball at their own 45, with the score tied at 27 and 1:27 left on the clock with no time outs. What happened next is something that Dallas Cowboys fans are quite familiar with.
On the first play of the possession, Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock fired a pass intended for wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley that was intercepted by Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward. Ward returned the ball to the Iowa 30-yard line.
The Hawkeyes, unable to stop the clock, watched as Northern Illinois got 11 yards on the next two running plays and dwindled the clock down to 10 seconds. The Huskies’ Mathew Sims then connected on a 36-yard field goal to give Northern Illinois the 30-27 victory.
This is the 2013 Hawkeye football team. Coach Kirk Ferentz and his staff will get the team ready to play each game. They won’t get blown out, especially at home. When these moments come, when you need the extra special something to make the crucial play, the inexperience at key positions will do them in.
With two years of Ferentz coaching, if Rudock holds on to the job, he doesn’t get baited into making that throw. Rudock is a bright kid. He can look at the film or rehearse the play in his mind and tell you exactly what he did wrong. Being able to dissect it after the fact and making the correct decision in the moment are two different things, however.
There were of course good things to take away from the game if you’re a Hawkeyes fan. The Iowa offense out-gained an offense led by Jordan Lynch, whom many people include in their Heisman conversations. Mark Weisman rushed for a 100 yards. Kevonte Martin-Manley set a new career high with nine receptions for 79 yards. Linebacker Christian Kirksey had a highlight-reel forced fumble and a 48 yard touchdown return.
In his first start in his first ever collegiate game, Rudock went 21-of-37 for 256 yards and a touchdown, but the two interceptions proved to be fatal for Iowa.
The Hawkeyes put themselves in position to win what would have been a slight statement game. It’s the actions you take in those moments after you’ve put yourself in that position which determine the game. Like Tony Romo, the Hawkeyes are feeling the pain of failure in those moments.