By Don Lund
I know the Hawkeyes lost to Ohio State Saturday at Columbus, 34-24, but they hung with the fourth-ranked Buckeyes and it was all tied up 24-24 at the start of the fourth quarter.
I’m not into moral victories, but I thought Iowa played its best half of football all year when they led 17-10 at halftime.
Ed Podolak, who is Iowa’s radio color commentary, said it was the best half of football the Hawks have played in three years.
I like Ed’s assessment better.
Going into the game, a lot of Hawkeye fans, including one of my homeboys, Kirk Neustrom, thought Ohio State might win by 30.
The offense was sharp, the defense made stops and the special teams were good, but as Kirk Ferentz said, “You play 60 minutes. There are no prizes for playing a good first half. I think we all realize that.”
This week, I’ll start with the offense.
Iowa used its bye week very well as they put in a three-tight end formation and came up with two touchdown passes to tight ends.
Both were great throws by Jake Rudock.
Jake hit C.J. Fiedorowicz on a 2-yard touchdown pass after Iowa took the opening drive for the first score.
It was a great pass by Jake as he put it in the outstretched arms of C.J. in the right corner of the end zone.
Jake also found Kevonte Martin-Manley for a 6-yard touchdown that gave the Hawkeyes a 17-10 lead at half.
The best throw was in the third quarter when tight end Jake Duzey got behind the Buckeye defense. Jake hit him in perfect stride and the big 6-4, 245-pound sophomore outran Ohio State’s defensive backs and scored on an 85-yard pass play.
That’s the second-longest pass play ever at Iowa to a tight end. The longest was a 95-yard catch and run by Dallas Clark against Purdue in 2002.
“Jake did a really nice job,” said coach Ferentz about his sophomore quarterback. “It’s not an easy environment to come into because it’s a tough opponent and it’s a tough place to play. He had control of things, got us in and out of plays really well and made some nice throws. He continues to grow and we’re excited about that.”
Jake does such a good job of checking off at the line of scrimmage. I’m sure sometimes he’s making dummy calls so the defense won’t shift every time he checks off.
For the game, Jake was 19-34, 245 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
For the season, Jake has thrown for 1,147 yards, 11 touchdowns, seven interceptions and is completing 59.5 percent of his passes.
The tight ends were great, and Jake Duzey led the way with six catches for 138 yards. That is a career high in catches and yards for Jake.
Jake had four catches coming into the game.
The Hawks haven’t had that kind of speed at tight end since Dallas Clark.
“We’ve been really optimistic about Jake,” said coach Ferentz about his sophomore tight end. “Hopeful he could develop into a really good football player and today was certainly a marquee game for him. We like the whole group of tight ends but it was nice to see Jake break out today.”
The three-tight end formation really helped the running game.
Iowa had 130 yards on the ground, led by the one-two punch of Damon Bullock (56 yards on 10 carries) and Mark Weisman (52 yards on 10 carries).
Iowa’s offense sure works better when it can average around 5 yards per carry on the ground.
I’ve got to give offensive line coach Brian Ferentz a lot of credit for getting the line ready against a good Ohio State defense.
The Hawkeye D had its work cut out Saturday at the Shoe.
The Buckeye one-two punch of quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde combined for 251 yards and a couple of highlight runs.
Add that to four seniors on the offensive line and you have one of the best offensives in the country.
Braxton looked like Terrelle Pryor on a scramble play. He started rolling out right, turned completely around and went back to his left, picking up 8 yards. It was third and 7, so he got the first down.
“He’s a really good athlete,” said coach Ferentz of the Buckeye quarterback. “It was like déja vü back to 2010.”
In 2010, Terrelle Pryor picked up a third and 10 with the same kind of scramble Braxton had.
Braxton finished 22-27 for 222 yards and two scores. One came in the second quarter on a broken coverage which resulted in a 58-yard touchdown pass.
Carlos Hyde is 6-0, 235 and runs a lot like Shonn Greene. He is fast and powerful and he averaged 6.2 yards on 24 carries.
James Morris and Desmond King had 12 tackles while Carl Davis and Nate Meier each had a sack.
Desmond was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week for his play against the Buckeyes.
Ohio State only had 189 total yards in the first half and had the ball for 12 minutes.
Iowa had 222 total yards in the first half and had the ball for 18 minutes.
The Buckeyes finished with 495 yards, totaled 35 minutes of possession time and ran 78 plays.
Iowa totaled 375 yards, had the ball 25 minutes and ran 61 plays.
Mike Meyer hit his only field goal attempt, a 28-yard kick. Mike has hit 54 field goals, which is tied for second with Rob Houghtlin on Iowa’s all-time list.
Connor Kornbrath averaged 38.3 yards on three kicks and the good news is Ohio State didn’t convert on a fake punt.
They didn’t punt at all so that helped.
The Hawks sit at 4-3, 1-2 in the Big Ten with two big home games against Northwestern and Wisconsin.
The Wildcats are nicked up and have lost three straight.
Let’s hope Kinnick magic comes into play and the ‘Cats are still struggling.
There will be no moral victories this Saturday.
It will either be a good Hawkeye win or a bad Hawkeye loss.