By Adam Jacobi on October 21, 2017 at 3:05 pm
Nate Stanley sacked
© David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

As with most losses to Northwestern, this was a nightmare unfolding in real time.

Iowa lost to Northwestern, 17-10, after Noah Fant dropped a 4th-down pass in the first overtime. Frankly, we'd like to just end the recap right there. 

This game was an unholy mess. Miguel Recinos kicked a 37-yard attempt so far left it was a public safety hazard. The two teams combined to miss four fourth-down conversions. Nate Stanley threw his third interception of the season without a receiver in the area. Iowa's game-tying field goal came after a false start on 4th and inches. Northwestern was flagged for multiple offensive pass interferences — one of which they converted anyway after Nathan Bazata committed an illegal hands to the face two plays later. Nick Easley dropped passes on consecutive plays, and of course, Fant dropped that pass to end the game. Northwestern had a chance to win in regulation with 90 seconds and 2 timeouts to get into field goal range, but sat on the ball — and of course the fraidy-cat strategy worked to perfection. 

Iowa gained 74 yards after halftime. That's not even enough to get in the end zone off a touchback. The offense badly needs an injection of self-awareness, as it settled into a pattern of low-percentage throw on first down, run between the tackles on second and pray to God on third. There are token variations on the theme from drive to drive. It's been easy for most Big Ten defenses to figure out, and if Brian Ferentz is the pedigreed genius we've all understood him to be, he will figure out how to make this all work, well, a lot better than it has.

Obviously, the defense missed Josey Jewell and Brandon Snyder, especially when Justin Jackson was dancing past three tacklers on the crucial 3rd down overtime reception, but the defense wasn't The Problem in this one. Jake Gervase played his best game of the season at safety (low bar, I know) and the linebacking corps was fine. They'd be better with Jewell, but they were fine.

Offensively, though, this is the second straight game that the Hawkeyes have gone on the road and scored ten whole points. The offensive line looked overwhelmed again, and while inexperience plays some role, that window is rapidly closing. Akrum Wadley had barely any opportunities to work in space for the game — if there was a screen called for him, I don't remember it — and Toren Young, who looked good as a hammerback in the first half, apparently opened the Cursed Locker To The Nether Zone at halftime and was never heard from again while Wadley tried gamely to grind yards between the tackles.

This is Iowa's worst loss of the year and it's not close. If they had played like this against a legitimate Big Ten opponent they'd have lost by 30. Forthunately, it's just Northwestern, so the game was close, but no. Instead we have to deal with 12 months of them. Them. The fans who don't show up, and the few that do call the cops if you stand. The GoBots of college football. How do you lose to the damn GoBots, man?

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