A 14-9 game going into the fourth quarter turned into a 28-9 blowout due to missed opportunities from the Iowa offense
By Matt Cabel
For Iowa football (5-4, 2-3 Big Ten), Saturday’s 28-9 loss to Wisconsin (6-2, 4-1 Big Ten) came down to missed opportunities.
Iowa missed opportunities to score touchdowns in the first quarter after starting three drives in Wisconsin territory, and one on its own 44-yard line. But the biggest opportunity the team missed came in the fourth quarter. A five point deficit turned into a 12 point deficit, and then a 19 point deficit that sent the Heartland Trophy back to Madison.
“They outplayed us,” offensive tackle Brandon Scherff said. “They had a great game-plan coming in for us. They out-executed us. We just have to keep working, finish the full game. We were there for the first three quarters, but we have to keep pushing.”
It was all part of what was a strange afternoon for the Iowa football team.
Backup quarterback C.J. Beathard was thrust into action after a Jake Rudock knee injury during the third quarter. Running back Jordan Canzeri, who hadn’t seen a carry since Iowa’s victory over Minnesota on September 28 led the Hawkeyes in rushing with 58 yards. Running back Mark Weisman suffered an apparent elbow injury, and his fellow backfield mate Damon Bullock finished with more receiving yards (39) than wideout Kevonte Martin-Manley, who finished with six.
“It was tough to run the ball today for us,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said about his team, who finished with 115 rushing yards. “…that’s going to happen sometimes … obviously I would have liked to run the ball better, I wish we could have, we would have been more productive. But they made it tough on us.”
Rudock finished the game with 109 yards on 12-of-24 passing attempts with one interception and no touchdowns before leaving halfway through the third quarter with a knee sprain. Beathard finished with 70 passing yards on 4-of-16 attempts with one interception and no touchdowns. Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave’s stat line included 144 passing yards on 11-of-19 attempts and two touchdowns for the Badgers.
The Hawkeyes had a 6-point lead off of two Mike Meyer field goals with 4:52 remaining in the second quarter. But the score shouldn’t have been so low: Iowa’s worst field position in the first quarter was starting a drive on its own 44-yard line. Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave threw an interception on the his first pass of the game, the team was kicking punts for less than 20 yards, and yet the Hawkeyes could never find the end zone, a trend that continued for the rest of the game. They ended the quarter with three points.
“It was a huge point in the football game — we didn’t have anything going,” Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen said. “…we couldn’t run the ball it seemed like an inch, we couldn’t throw the ball, the punt game was all over the place with the wind … for our defense to hang in there and force them to kick those field goals was big.”
Iowa later entered the fourth quarter trailing 14-9, but the lack of offensive production kept the defense on the field for too long, which resulted in 14-unanswered Wisconsin points from halfback James White. The Badgers entered the final quarter with only 100 yards rushing, and finished with 218.
“We just have to finish,” BJ Lowery said. “We went out there and played hard, but we didn’t go out there and play the whole 60 [minutes] — I feel like we played about 50. We need to see how to finish the game.”