Yay sports? Yay, right? Go Iowa Awesome?
First, the good news: Iowa got back to its ground game dominance en route to a 49-35 victory. LeShun Daniels Jr. and Akrum Wadley both ripped off their longest runs of the season, and Iowa racked up a season-high 365 yards rushing, tied for second-best in the Kirk Ferentz era and the most since 2002. Desmond King iced the game with a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown, his first score since his late pick-six against Maryland.
Now, the bad news: TE George Kittle left the game in the first half with a leg injury and spent the rest of the time on the sidelines in a walking boot (aren't all boots made for walking?). LT Boone Myers limped to the locker room in the second half and didn't return to action. RT Cole Croston was out all day and his status for Wisconsin is uncertain.
Oh, and Iowa damn near let Purdue back in the game.
Iowa started the game out with touchdowns on its first three drives, while Purdue struggled mightily for so much as a first down. The Hawkeye lead reached 28-0 before a Purdue score, which prompted Akrum Wadley's 75-yard touchdown in retaliation. Even going into the fourth quarter, the game was 42-14 and well out of reach.
David Blough and the Purdue offense erupted for three touchdowns in the final frame, most against the Hawkeye reserves as Iowa went into peak Ferentz With A Lead mode, punting on 4th and short from Purdue territory and offering scant resistance to the passing game. Purdue finished with 504 yards of offense, the most allowed by the Hawkeyes in nearly four seasons.
Iowa had not allowed a team to record 500+ yards in 47 straight games coming into today, which was the longest active streak in the FBS.— Matt Benson (@mbenson6) October 15, 2016
The poor fourth quarter couldn't overshadow the first 45 minutes of dominance, though. C.J. Beathard was surgical, finishing with 140 yards and two touchdowns on only 17 throws. Daniels and Wadley both finished with over 150 rushing yards. And hey, that catch by Noah Fant! Heck of a way to get a first career touchdown.
It's strange that you'll see Iowa fans grumpy after a game where the Hawkeyes score seven touchdowns and lead by 14 or more for the last 47 minutes of gameplay. But it's okay to be grumpy at giving up 21 fourth-quarter points. It's okay to be underwhelmed at the starters needing to re-enter the game in what was ostensibly garbage time. It's okay to be grumpy at 500 yards allowed. Certainly the coaches won't be pleased.
All the same, Iowa moves to 3-1 in the Big Ten West, and if Nebraska can't hang onto this early lead against Indiana (it's 10-0 Huskers at publication) the Hawkeyes will own first place in the division. At worst they're alone in second place. Onto Wisconsin Week.
Let's just do something about that second-string defense, though.