More like nontroversy. Jake Rudock effectively put the QB battle to bed with his strongest game over the season (albeit against a rather permissive Indiana secondary), going 19-for-27 for 210 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Those numbers aren't spectacular, but they do add up to Rudock's best QB rating of the year (a perfectly cromulent 160.1) and the third-best game by QB rating* he's put together against a Big Ten opponent in his career.
The productive afternoon stands in contrast to C.J. Beathard's forgettable day, going 2-for-5 for nine whole yards. Beathard was, at least, the Hawkeyes' fourth-leading rusher with 28 yards, but his claim to significant minutes going forward has probably diminished. It wasn't a total disaster—Beathard led the Hawkeyes' last touchdown drive of the afternoon—but he wasn't asked to do much, and he actually did even less.
I don't think this situation is done for good, incidentally; Rudock had a few total ducks, and his deep ball is still inconsistent. Indiana won't punish you for having mediocre downfield skills; a defense like Northwestern's, though, and we might be talking trouble. And assuming this is the Rudock Iowa will get for the rest of the year stands in pretty stark contrast to the production Rudock's had for the previous five games.
The door's closed—I'm just not sure it's latched.
*Purdue and Nebraska last year were in the 170s, if you were curious.
Is Tevin Coleman a motorcycle. Indiana stayed in the game thanks to a superlative performance from tailback Tevin Coleman, who rushed for three long touchdowns in his 15-carry, 219-yard game. It's worth pointing out that Coleman's three touchdowns logged 197 of his 219 yards, meaning he got a meager 22 yards on his other 12 rushes, but any team in the world would gladly accept mammoth touchdowns on 20% of its star RB's carries.
All told, the Hoosiers rushed for 316 yards against the Hawkeyes, and Indiana was able to repeatedly find creases on the outside to spring Coleman and his friends. Sometimes it was overpursuit, sometimes a safety who will not be named (but whose last name rhymes with Meowdermilk) couldn't fill a gap quickly enough and sometimes it was just sloppy awareness.
As Ross pointed out in the immediate aftermath, if Coleman was able to exploit the Iowa defense like that, god help us all when it's time for Melvin Gordon and Ameer Abdullah. November's a long way off and gap responsibilities are a whole lot easier to teach than most aspects of football, so we're not writing off either game just yet. We are, however, chewing our nails straight to the quick out of sheer anxiety.
The best defense is a good... defensive line. You didn't think I was going to say "a good offense," did you? That would make no sense. Anyway, Iowa went with the unconventional "break but don't bend" defensive approach on Saturday, allowing 432 yards and 29 points on 13 first downs, and... well, it worked well enough for the win, I suppose.
In particular Iowa feasted on Indiana's passing game, first knocking Nate Sudfeld out of the game with an apparent arm injury—hope he's all right, it's not fun to see guys get injured—then harassing backup QB Chris Covington into a miserable 3-for-12, 31-yard, two-pick day. Covington's QB rating on the day was 13.4, and that is somehow not a typo.
This is becoming something of a pattern for Iowa, whose pass defense has climbed into the Top 25 nationally in both yards allowed per game and defensive efficiency—not really what we expected after the UNI game, but here we are.
Some serious credit belongs to safeties Jordan Lomax and John Lowdermilk—Lomax in particular had his best game of the season against Indiana, and both guys have gotten significantly better at putting themselves in position to make plays as the year has gone on.
But if we're being honest it's all about the defensive front four, whose ability to take away the interior rushing game and pressure quarterbacks with regularity makes it so the secondary rarely has to cover for more than a few seconds at a time. Louis Trinca-Pasat continues to make his case as the single best player on the team, regardless of position; he logged six more tackles on Saturday, his 39 tackles are third nationally among defensive tackles. Trinca-Pasat is rarely blocked out of his gap, tackles like a steamroller and... well, can you remember him getting penalized for anything this year? If he's been flagged at all, it's not in ESPN's game logs.
Iowa's got a mobile quarterback on deck next week with C.J. Brown leading the Maryland charge. Ohio State victimized Brown repeatedly in a Week 6 victory (Maryland was on a bye last week) to the point where Brown was managing fewer than four yards per attempt and head coach Randy Edsall brought in backup Caleb Rowe. Hey, a team with a banged-up starter going to its backup with a better passing arm? Never heard of such a thing! Anyway, Rowe promptly threw three picks and Ohio State won without breaking a sweat.
Iowa's likely to see more of Brown than Rowe—a starter's a starter, after all, and if that sounds insipid hello and welcome to football have you ever been here before—but the aim's going to be the same either way: mash the quarterback into oblivion. A good team gets that done. We'll see how good Iowa is going forward.
Oh, and... Pretty cool that Jonathan Parker's busting out like this, isn't it? It's been a while since Iowa had a legit home run threat like this in its backfield—probably since Damien Sims (don't say Wegher, c'mon). And I think Parker's ceiling is higher. Pretty excited to find out.