Iowa 34, Michigan State 27

This is an allegory for the football game yesterday... or something.

Make no mistake about it: Iowa had no business winning on Saturday. None. The Hawkeyes slept-walked through the first half, didn't pass for a single yard in the second half, and gave up over 300 yards through the air from Brian Hoyer.

And yet they won.

A win, of course, is a win, and a win is beautiful. This, we cannot lose sight of. There are plenty of teams who would kill to be at 4-5 right now.

But for the love of God, 53 yards passing? For a bit of perspective, that's less than half of the nation's worst passing attack--Navy at 107 yards per game. I checked the record books*, and Iowa's never won a game in which they passed for so few yards. Ever**.

The man of the day was, undoubtedly, Albert Young. I had noted a couple weeks ago that he was running angry, and he took the football-based hostility to a new level yesterday. His 34 rushes and 179 yards were both by far his best totals of the season, neither matched since a 38-carry, 202-yard effort two years ago against Northwestern. Even more, he was the sparkplug Iowa desperately needed; the whole team seemed to feed off his aggression. A defense that was at best porous in the first half turned stout, even as the injuries racked up, Michigan State was only able to manage a last-minute field goal  in the second half, and that came after a deep pass that's probably intercepted or otherwise well-defended 9 out of 10 times.

Speaking of injuries, consider who Iowa was missing by the endgame. Ken Iwebema missed the game with complications from a concussion suffered last weekend. Mike Klinkenborg broke a bone in his hand and was sidelined. Adam Shada messed up his ankle in the first half and was nowhere to be seen by the end of the day. Shada's backup, Bradley Fletcher, was also done for the day. That's three senior starters and a critical backup standing on the sidelines, and yet Iowa's defense still rose to the occasion when it mattered most. Well, except for the first overtime, anyway.

Going forward, Iowa's got three games left on their docket, and they're all winnable. Northwestern, like Iowa, is middling around .500 and stands no chance to be taken seriously by the Big Ten for the foreseeable future. If Iowa can manage a win up at Ryan Field, they'll have an inside track at a 7-5 record and a bowl bid, something that looked exceedingly improbable just one week ago. Is it the Capital One Bowl and spending New Year's in Florida? No, but for a team that's so littered with freshmen and injuries, 7-5 is not too fucking shabby right now.

*No I didn't.

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