By Don Lund
Last week I talked about Iowa playing hard against fourth-ranked Ohio State and going into the fourth quarter, they were tied at 24. Iowa lost 34-24, but battled hard until the end.
This week there would be no moral victories. Either Iowa has a good win or a bad loss…
Thank goodness for Jake Rudock, C.J Fiedorowicz and Louis Trinca-Pasat.
Jake threw an 8-yard pass as he was falling down to C.J. in the end zone in overtime to give Iowa a 17-10 lead.
Then Louis tackled a scrambling Cain Coulter (Northwestern’s quarterback) on a fourth down play that ended the game in OT.
What a difference a year makes.
The Wildcats smoked the Hawkeyes last year at Evanston, taking a 28-3 lead into the third quarter and holding on for a 28-17 win.
Iowa shut out the ‘Cats in the first half last Saturday at Kinnick and led 10-0.
Last year, Cain Coulter had 166 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
This year, Cain had 72 yards rushing and no touchdowns.
I was a little concerned when Cain Coulter was cleared to play against the Hawks, but Iowa contained him and wanted this win big-time.
Carl Davis, defensive tackle for Iowa, said he watched last year’s game film 10 or 11 times.
I couldn’t even watch the replay once.
When you hold a team like Northwestern to 10 points you have done a good job.
The Wildcats scored 44, 48, 38 and 35 points in their first four wins. They scored 30 against Ohio State in a loss and even though they are a little nicked up, Iowa played with discipline all afternoon and got their fifth win.
You start with the front seven and a season-high six sacks.
James Morris had eight tackles, two sacks, two tackles for a loss and a fumble recovery.
Iowa played a lot of 3-4 defense in the second half and James stepped up, keeping Cain Coulter from breaking a big run. Cain’s longest run was 13 yards.
James had a lot of help with Christian Kirksey leading the Hawkeyes with 12 tackles. Anthony Hitchens had nine tackles including a sack and tackle for a loss.
How about Mike Hardy with his first start at defensive end?
The 6-5, 270-pound junior had a sack and two tackles for a loss.
Drew Ott, John Lowdermilk and Trinca-Pasat also had tackles for a loss but freshman Desmond King came up big. He recovered a fumble late in the fourth quarter that stopped a Wildcat drive and broke up a third down pass in overtime that helped seal the win.
“It was great for our guys to finish the way that they did,” said head coach Kirk Ferentz. “It’s a real tribute I think to our older players showing the leadership that they have been giving our guys all the way through here.”
Every week it seems like Jake Rudock shows us something new as he continues to grow and perform.
He finished 18-27 for 169 yards, one interception and one touchdown. Those aren’t great numbers but the winning touchdown pass was.
Jake knew he was going to get hit but threw a perfect pass to C.J. in the corner of the end zone.
“It was a great play,” said coach Ferentz. “They brought the house on that one. Jake did a great job. It looked like he eluded the rush and he got the ball where he was hopeful C.J. would get it. C.J. did a wonderful job of bringing that down. He’s a big target out there.”
When Iowa opened the game with a 14-play, 74-yard drive that took over five minutes and resulted in a two yard touchdown run by Damon Bullock, I thought the Hawks would put up at least 35 points.
Mark Weisman and Damon carried the load most of the game, combining for 108 yards on 20 carries.
That keeps both of them fresh and they also combined for three catches.
Kevonte Martin-Manley led the receivers with five catches including a couple for big first downs.
Mike Meyer has now hit 107 straight extra points and his 38-yard field goal in the first quarter put him in second place for career field goals.
Mike has hit 55 field goals. Nate Kaeding leads with 67.
Connor Kornbrath had four punts and averaged 40 yards on a windy day.
This isn’t a great Iowa team, but it’s learning how to win and is getting better.
The big, bad Badgers, who are favored by a touchdown, come to Kinnick Stadium this Saturday and since they had a bye week, they’ll be a tough challenge for the Hawks.