For three quarters, the Iowa Hawkeyes were the vastly superior team on the field today. The score between the Hawkeyes and the Iowa State Cyclones at the beginning of the fourth quarter was 27-7. Despite holding onto the ball for 17 minutes longer than the Cyclones did, the final score was 27-21.
Turnovers and penalties on offense killed drives and limited the Hawkeyes to 27 points. A fumble by Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock at the Cyclone 24-yard line ended the Hawkeyes’ second drive of the game. A holding penalty killed the Hawkeyes’ second possession of the second half. The Hawkeyes’ 27 points was good enough to bring the Cy-Hawk trophy back to Iowa City today largely thanks to the defensive effort.
The first three quarters of this game looked like the best performance of the season so far for the Hawkeye defense. In addition to limiting the yardage and conversions of the Cyclones, Iowa was able to force two turnovers and get the Cyclones into three and out situations consistently throughout the first three quarters. The three Sam Richardson to Quenton Bundrage passes that resulted in Cyclone touchdowns do raise a concern about the pass defense that will have to be addressed if the Hawkeyes are to compete in the Big 10.
A B.J. Lowery interception set up the Hawkeye offense to get a couple of first downs to close out the game after Iowa State recovered an onside kick to try to trim the Hawkeyes’ lead to one score with less than five minutes left in the game. To fit a recurring theme for Iowa so far, the offense was unable to move the ball when it needed to and had to punt, leaving the door open for the Cyclones to make it a game into the waning seconds of regulation.
The recipe for the inconsistent Hawkeye offense has become quite clear after three games. Lots of Mark Weisman, mix in some Kevante Martin-Manley and sprinkle in some Damon Bullock. Weisman finished the game with 35 carries for 144 yards, pushing his season total up to 424 yards in three games. Martin-Manley caught seven balls for 60 yards and a touchdown while Bullock added 13 carries for 51 yards and a catch for four yards. If you add up the touches of Bullock, Martin-Manley and Weisman, they accounted for 63% of Iowa’s offensive plays and 69% of the offensive yards.
This was a win the Hawkeyes needed to have to keep bowl hopes alive and to bring some legitimacy to the 2013 team. The team faced its first road game, game against another school from another BCS automatic-qualifying conference and rivalry game and earned a victory. Much work still has to be done with the offense on finishing drives with touchdowns and in the secondary, but this was a step in the right direction for a young Hawkeye football team.