The offensive gods giveth... and the offensive gods taketh. And on Saturday they took a lot from Iowa. One week after one of the most offensively perfect performances of the Kirk Ferentz Era at Iowa, particularly against an elite opponent in Ohio State, Iowa put together one of the most offensively inept performances of the KF Era. Iowa had 66 yards, averaged just 1.0 yards per play, and had just five first downs. Those are all the worst-ever offensive performances for an Iowa team under Ferentz. The previous low for all those stats was the 2004 Debacle in the Desert against Arizona State, when Iowa had just six first downs and 100 yards and averaged just 2.2 yards per play against the Sun Devils. That game is no longer the bottom of the barrel.
Josh Jackson racked up 95 yards on two interceptions returned for touchdowns (the only highlights of this game for Iowa); maybe we should have let him play offense too? It couldn't have been any less effective than the actual offense was in this game. This was a greatest hits of Iowa's offensive failures, from drops (so many drops) to some inaccurate passes from Stanley, to an offensive line that got overwhelmed time and again on run plays. They added a new wrinkle in futility, too, though, with the offensive line also struggling in pass protection; Iowa had only given up 12 sacks in their first nine games this year, but they gave up three in this game, which made things even more difficult for the Iowa offense and resulted in a lot of long third down attempts. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Iowa went 0/13 on third downs in this game. To be fair, Wisconsin has a very good defense; they rank near the top of the nation in total defense, scoring defense, and rush defense (and not far behind in pass defense) and they showed why in this game. The combination of their defensive excellence and Iowa's offensive ineptitude made for a hideous sight to behold if you were an Iowa fan.
As usual, the Iowa defense was game for most of the afternoon; despite getting no help whatsoever from the Iowa offense in the first half, it was just 17-14 early in the third quarter after Jackson's second pick-six of the game. Unfortunately, the turnover gods turned on Iowa with a vengeance shortly after that. Miscommunication between Nate Stanley and the offensive line led to an early snap that Stanley wasn't ready for; the ensuing fumble was some real Keystone Cops shit and ended up with Leon Jacobs running it back for seven for the Badgers. Iowa and Wisconsin traded three-and-outs (and punts) after that, but after Iowa put together something resembling an offensive drive (two first downs!), it ended in more misery after T.J. Edwards made a great diving interception for Wisconsin. Six plays and 59 yards later, the Badgers had another touchdown and it was 31-14 Wisconsin. Stanley fumbled the ball three plays later (on pressure from Jacobs) and after recovering the ball at the Iowa 14-yard line, it didn't take long for Wisconsin long to score another touchdown and complete the #beatemdown.
Last week was beautiful; this week was the complete opposite. The football gods can be very cruel. This was a hugely disappointing faceplant for Iowa after last week's picture-perfect performance, no doubt. But football is a weird old game and given the wild inconsistency this Iowa team has shown on offense, it's not a surprise to see them lay an egg this week (although laying this much of an egg certainly stings). But just burn the offensive tape from this game; there's nothing good to be gleaned from studying this one.