It wasn't pretty. It really, really wasn't pretty. But it's a win.
Iowa rode a loud, productive performance from Brandon Snyder, who finished with a team-high 13 tackles and the game's only forced turnover, to secure a 14-7 win at Rutgers at High Point Solutions Stadium, which is not a good stadium name. Akrum Wadley scored the go-ahead touchdown from 26 yards out with 8:35 left in the game, and he led the team with 84 yards rushing.
This wasn't an overly impressive game for the Hawkeyes, who were often listless and sloppy. Indeed, when Rutgers (who finished with a gulp-worthy 193 rushing yards) was opening up massive rushing lanes in the second half, it was fair to worry that It's All Happening Again. But the defense made Rutgers have to work just hard enough outside of their competency, thanks to some truly impressive performances from Snyder and Josey Jewell, who added 12 tackles of his own to the mix.
The turning point of the game in Iowa's favor likely came on the game's most explosive play—in Rutgers' favor. Late in the second quarter of a scoreless game, WR Janarion Grant took a screen pass 76 yards to inside the Iowa 5 yard line, but in the course of the tackle Desmond King stepped on Grant's leg, injuring the speedy wideout for the game. Rutgers couldn't punch the ball in, with King stopping QB Chris Laviano at the goal line on 4th down. Jewell had made the tackle on the three prior plays of the goal line stand; Iowa coaches should show that sequence to its younger linebackers for years to come.
Rather than simply run the clock out on the half, C.J. Beathard orchestrated a 99-yard two-minute drill, capped by a 36-yard touchdown catch for George Kittle with 34 seconds left in the half.
With the game in the balance and Iowa responding to Rutgers' game-tying touchdown with a 3-and-out that included two Beathard sacks (yeah), Iowa's defense shifted the course of the game once more. A Parker Hesse sack forced a 3rd-and-16 for the Scarlet Knights, and Snyder stripped the ensuing pass from WR Andre Patton and jumped on the ball for the Hawkeyes. Wadley danced into the end zone on the very next play, and Iowa had its winning margin.
That's not to say the game was over; Rutgers still had ample opportunity to tie the game back up and Laviano had the Knights driving again. But with a 4th and 2 in Iowa territory, Snyder blew up the lead blocker on a stretch play and helped corral RB Jawaun Harris for a series-killing loss. Rutgers never touched the ball again.
We mentioned last week that closing out games had been an ongoing problem for the Hawkeyes. Indeed, this game danced on the precipice of disaster more than anyone would have liked. But Snyder and the Iowa defense slammed the door with the game on the line, and no matter what else you'd like to say about this performance, hey, the Hawkeyes are 1-0 in the Big Ten.