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Hlas column: It's no help, but Hawkeyes were just one lemon in Big Ten's sour Saturday

Where were the Huskers? (AP photo)
Where were the Huskers? (AP photo)

Iowa fans, the problems of your team don't add up to a hill of beans in this crazy college football world.

That 9-6 late-afternoon loss to Iowa State didn't register a blip compared to the pratfalls some of your Big Ten neighbors took on Saturday night.

How about going to southern California in a Big Red caravan, only to see your Blackshirts defense get treated like a mountain bike on an L.A. freeway? Unranked UCLA ran up 665 yards on Nebraska in pulling a 36-30 upset.

Illinois made an ESPN appearance Saturday night, only to wish it hadn't. How about the national exposure of getting exposed at Arizona State, 45-14?

Earlier in the day, Wisconsin's normally bruising offense managed a measly 201 yards in a 10-7 loss to unranked Oregon State. It's easier to replace offensive linemen or running backs than it is a quarterbacking talent like Russell Wilson.

But none of that is much of a feel-good medication in Iowa City, is it? The following statistic won't help:

Saturday marked the first time a Kirk Ferentz-coached Iowa team failed to score a touchdown at home. It was only the second time the Hawkeyes were held to single-digits at home since the start of the 2001 season.

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Iowa scored in double-digits every game from Oct. 27, 2007 to Oct. 8, 2011. But t has hit single-digits three times in its last 11 games, at Penn State and Nebraska last year, and now Iowa State at home.

Before Saturday, Iowa hadn't been held to one touchdown in a two-game stretch since 2007, when it went 6-6.

Northern Illinois and Iowa State have defenses laden with talented players, and they gave fine performances against Iowa. But do you think at the end of November you'll look back and say the two best defenses Iowa played were those belonging to the Huskies and Cyclones?

Lost in the flood of negativity about Iowa's offense was proper credit to how well Iowa's defense is playing. The defense was supposed to be dicey, at least up front. But it gave the Hawkeyes two winning efforts.

It is why all is far from lost. If you have defense, you can compete.

Two games are just two games, but new Hawkeyes defensive coordinator Phil Parker has already shown he can make shrewd halftime corrections.

"They gave us different looks," Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz said. "You could just tell they were making adjustments for us and they did a great job in the second half.

"I felt like a lot of times they had an understanding of what we were trying to do and they did a great job stopping it. That's why they have such a good defense, because they're smart."

Iowa's special-teams play, for the most part, has also been good. But it takes three to tango in football, and the offense is lagging way behind the 'D' and the kick teams.

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The last time the Hawkeyes lost at home to Iowa State before Saturday was 2002. The tale of what happened next has been told and told. Iowa went on to go 8-0 in the Big Ten.

But that Hawkeyes squad overflowed with offense, playmakers at every skill position and tight end playing with an offensive line as good as the program has ever seen.

Who from the 2012 Iowa offense is better than the Hawkeyes' 2002 version? So far, I'd say no one.

 

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