I was ready to write a scathing review of Greg Davis and the inept second half offense. Because let's face it...the offense feels better, it looks like it is going better, it's not as frustrating to watch, but really it's not scoring any more points than last year.
But then a dumb penalty, a fumble, a not so bad attempt to score at the end of the regular, a beautiful pass in the end zone, and a great defensive stop later...and I'm feeling a lot better.
And despite another rough performance in the second half, Iowa actually hit on the four factors really well.
Sure, sure...the offense was bad in the second half and maybe slipped towards Greg Davis's horizontal offense tendencies. But, when it was time to panic at the end of the game when Northwestern had been moving the ball consistently in the second half, Iowa stepped up. The offense drove down the field to set up a potential game winning FG (which I'm pretty sure the wind got a hold of and pushed it wide), and then the defense held their end of the deal "forcing" a turnover.
The play that really epitomizes the "don't panic" mindset though was the winning touchdown. Pat already broke it down, but it's worth repeating how well Jake Rudock did on that play to stand in the face of a full out blitz and delivered a perfect pass knowing exactly where C.J. Fiedorowicz would be before he even made his move.
Get to the quarterback
Six sacks! Holy crap. I didn't see that coming, especially with Kain Colter getting basically all of the snaps. Contain was very good, coverage was its best all season (Desmond King is starting to play really well), and Iowa figured out that having a spy on the QB can work really, really well. Colter looked much more comfortable trying to scramble than throw down the field and the defensive line and the linebackers were able to get to him as soon as he looked to run.
Again, the shining example of this came in overtime with everything on the line (and Pat has already broken it down). So quickly, on that play the coverage was great, Louis Trinca-Pasat got great initial pressure, the D-line was able to contain, allowing LTP to (after falling down) catch up to Colter for the sack.
Build an early lead
Maybe Greg Davis should script the first 60 plays of just the first drive. Iowa ran the ball at will to open the game and built a 10-0 before stinking it up in the second half. The "first half nation champions" thing is cool and all, but isn't going to mean much as teams figure out that they're still in the game because Iowa isn't going to make any good adjustments at half.
Don't make this a FG battle
In the fourth quarter it looked like it was going to come down to a FG, and unfortunately, Northwestern had the wind. Iowa got down to the 24 with 5 minutes left and Meyer missed a FG. Northwestern got to the 30, and would have had a 2nd-and-1 from the 21 if it weren't for an illegal block. But the penalty and ensuing fumbled killed that off. The key though, was again in overtime as Iowa scored a TD on a 3rd-and-7 instead of settling for a FG. I'm sure Meyer would have made it from the 8 with the wind, but that TD forced Northwestern's hand and the D responded.
Iowa is just a win over Purdue away from bowl eligibility! Hooray!