116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MADISON, Wis. — A closer look at No. 9 Iowa’s 27-7 loss to Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday.
There was one, yes. We’ll get to that. But the first half was a steady stream of badness for the Hawkeyes.
It started when Wisconsin went against form and drove 65 yards for a first-quarter touchdown with five passes in eight plays.
Things snowballed after that in the half for reasons not of the Iowa defense’s making. Bad stuff: Three lost Hawkeye fumbles inside the Iowa 20 by a team that had easily led the Big Ten in turnover margin. No running game whatsoever, quarterback Spencer Petras getting sacked four times, Petras missing on some all-too-rare opportunities to complete passes downfield.
Wisconsin could easily have been up 31-0 at halftime. There was nothing to suggest Iowa could have been any better off than its 20-0 deficit at intermission.
Iowa’s defense kept defending after halftime, however, and the Hawkeyes had a 40-yard touchdown drive to make it 20-7. After Wisconsin’s third-straight three-and-out, Iowa took over at its 36. It moved to the Wisconsin 41 where it had a 3rd-and-2.
As it did two weeks earlier against Purdue, Iowa gained just 1 yard on two identical plays after a third-and-2, and turned the ball over on downs. Two Monte Pottebaum runs into a stacked defensive line couldn’t get the needed yardage to sustain the drive and the Hawkeyes’ momentum.
Wisconsin proceeded to drive 60 yards for a touchdown and a 27-7 lead with 12:54 left, and all that was left was for the Badgers’ fans to sing along to “Build Me Up Buttercup” during the timeout after Wisconsin’s scored.
By the numbers
1 — Iowa had one first down in the first half, and it came late in the half. Other gruesome numbers from that half for the Hawkeyes: Minus-13 rushing yards and four sacks allowed.
6 — Wisconsin Coach Paul Chryst got his sixth win in eight games against Iowa.
6 — Iowa quarterbacks were sacked six times.
24 — The Hawkeyes had 30 rushes for 24 yards. The Badgers had 28 carries for 166 yards
29 — Iowa’s streak of holding opponents to 24 points or less was halted at 29 games.
104 — Wisconsin freshman running back Braelon Allen rushed 20 times for 104 yards, his fourth 100-yard game in a row. No one had rushed for more than 69 yards (Breece Hall, Iowa State) against Iowa before this game.
Iowa lost three fumbles over its first seven games. It matched that total in the second quarter.
First, Petras was strip-sacked on a third-and-17 from the Iowa 14. The Badgers recovered at the 8, but didn’t even capitalize on that when fullback John Chenal was stymied on fourth-and-goal at the 1.
Second, Ivory Kelly-Martin fumbled at the Iowa 1 on his only carry. One play later, Mertz scored on a 1-yard keeper to make it 17-0.
Third, Max Cooper fumbled away a punt at the Wisconsin 18, setting up Collin Larch’s second field goal of the half.
Offensive line woes
It became clear early that Iowa’s offensive line wasn’t up to the challenge against Wisconsin’s defense.
Former Iowa/NFL offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde is a Hawkeye to his marrow, and sings the praises of the Hawkeyes’ coaches, players and supporters freely and happily. But he tweeted this in the first half:
“Lot of pain points watching this as an offensive lineman. It's only made worse by how incredible our defense is. We practice against this defense every day. That should make us better on offense. It hasn't this year.”
Under the under
The over/under number for this game was 37 points, matching the lowest for any FBS contest this season.
The under covered.
Iowa cornerback Terry Roberts and offensive tackle Nick DeJong weren’t in uniform. Roberts started Iowa’s previous game because Riley Moss was out with an injury. Moss (knee) didn’t play Saturday. Sophomore Jermari Harris of Chicago took Roberts’ place in the lineup. First-year freshman Cooper DeJean became a second-team cornerback.
Iowa backup defensive end Deontae Craig missed his second-straight game. Hawkeye tight end Luke Lachey returned after missing a game.
Hawkeye kick returner Charlie Jones went to the locker room after sustaining an injury on a return. It hurt worse when Cooper had his fumble with 4:18 left in the first half. At least Jones wasn’t seriously hurt, and returned to the game.
Iowa plays at Northwestern (3-5, 1-4 Big Ten) at 6 p.m. Saturday (BTN).