By Don Lund
Iowa lost to the LSU Tigers 21-14 last week in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day. It just wasn’t meant to be.
First Mike Meyer, the second-best field goal kicker ever at Iowa (Nate Kaeding is number one), missed a 35-yard chip shot in the third quarter with no wind.
Then Kevonte Martin-Manley fumbled a punt, LSU recovered and drove for a score. Kevonte hasn’t done that all year.
Finally John Lowdermilk had a pick-six as he intercepted a pass on his own 28, broke free and crossed the goal line… but he dropped the ball before he scored.
The Hawkeyes did get the ball on the one and Mark Weisman scored, but I’m still stunned John dropped it with no one around.
John was very apologetic afterward and I’m sure that won’t happen again if he gets a chance for a pick-six next year, his senior season.
There were a few more plays and really interesting (bad) calls by the officials but those three stuck out to me.
I have to give the Hawkeyes some credit. On paper, and during the game, LSU played tough, had better athletes and more team speed but Iowa didn’t quit.
I’ll break down the good, bad and ugly on the final game.
I have to start with Iowa’s defense.
I know LSU had a freshman quarterback make his first start because of an injury to LSU’s starter, but Iowa played with a redshirt freshman when Jake went down in the third quarter.
Bend don’t break, with the three senior linebackers leading the way.
James Morris, Christian Kirksey and Anthony Hitchens were all over the field combining for 25 tackles, four tackles for a loss including two sacks by James and one by Christian.
“We didn’t always play well, but I thought the effort was there,” said James. “At the end of the day, when all the wins and losses are totaled up, that’s what you hang your hat on.”
I’d have to put C.J. Beathard in the good.
C.J. came off the bench when Jake Rudock reinjured a knee and played the whole fourth quarter.
The redshirt freshman from Tennessee was 4-7 and threw a nice 4-yard touchdown pass to Martin-Manley to make the score 21-14 with 1:42 left in the game.
Iowa will have two solid quarterbacks competing for the starting job next season.
C.J. Fiedorowicz, Jake Duzey and Jacob Hillyer all had some big catches for the Hawks.
C.J. is gone but Jake and Jacob are back.
Jordan Cotton had a 96-yard kickoff return which set up the final score.
That’s the longest play in Iowa history that didn’t result in a score.
Iowa could only come up with 75 yards rushing which comes out to a 2.1 yard average gain.
LSU loaded the box and Jake Rudock was 9-22 with one interception.
Jake finished the season completing 59 percent of his passes for 2,383 yards, 18 touchdowns and 13 picks.
If Jake can cut his interceptions in half next fall, the Hawkeyes can have a real good season.
The Hawks were only 6-19 on third down conversions.
Too many three and outs.
Time of possession has been on Iowa’s side most of the season.
LSU had the ball in the Outback Bowl for over 35 minutes… Iowa over 24.
In the first half alone, LSU had the ball for 19:17 minutes… Iowa 10:43.
No wonder the Hawk defense was worn down on LSU’s last drive, which started with five minutes left, and featured six straight running plays ending in a 37-yard touchdown run.
Jeremy Hill, who reminded me a lot of Shonn Greene, was the game’s MVP, running for 216 yards, two touchdowns and a 7.7 yard average.
Jeremy is listed at 6-2, 235, and has the speed and power of Shonn.
So the Hawkeyes go from 4-8 to 9-5 and a News Year’s Day bowl game.
I’d say it’s a pretty good season and with some solid starters back, including Brandon Scherff, I’m already looking forward to spring ball.