The Good: Beathard, Baby.
In retrospect, it doesn't feel like C.J. Beathard only finished the day 19/31 for 233 yards and one touchdown. It felt like he hit on every throw. Made every play. Singlehandedly won the game for Iowa. Of course, he didn't. But he played a hell of a game. A few of Beathard's drives I'd like to focus on:
First Quarter (into Second Quarter): 5/5, 76 yards, setting up a LeShun Daniels touchdown run.
Second Quarter: SUPERMAN
Fourth Quarter: Ok, so let's talk about Iowa's first drive of the fourth quarter. Indiana drove down the field the prior possession and it felt like Iowa was fortunate to hold them to a field goal, making the score 21-20. There was this sense of dread that it was just a matter of time before Indiana took the lead again, meaning Iowa had to make something happen on offense.
Fortunately, on Iowa's very first play, Indiana's Darius Latham got hit with a facemask penalty while tackling Tevaun Smith, setting the Hawkeyes up on the 45. A false start knocked Iowa back to the 40 and a quick run by Derrick Mitchell made it 3rd and 11 on Iowa's 44. If Iowa didn't convert Ferentz would probably punt and Iowa fans would be holding their breaths for another five minutes to see what developed. Instead, C.J. Beathard does this:
Beathard is scrambling to the wrong side of the field, has a linebacker bearing down on him at full speed and throws across his body to Matt VandeBerg, who is running IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION for a first down. Now, I have seen C.J. Beathard make more important throws but I don't think I have ever seen C.J. Beathard make a more impressive throw. Just an unbelievable display of athleticism from someone who is suffering from a groin injury. Or as Ed Cunningham would say "Has a groin." (Ed Cunningham is the absolute worst, by the way). Iowa would eventually score that drive, making it 28-20.
In the waning moments of the fourth quarter, Iowa faced a 2nd and 9 at Indiana's 48, up 35-27. I was somewhat critical of Greg Davis's play calling earlier in the fourth as he had essentially turned Iowa into a spread team and came out passing on every first and second down (it all worked out in the end, by the way). With 1:34 left on the clock, Iowa could've just run up the middle and forced Indiana to use their last timeout, giving the Hoosiers (I assume) around 1:28 on a third down. If Iowa had ran again for a short gain, they'd be able to milk the clock down to around 45 seconds before punting. 45 seconds doesn't seem like a lot of time but uh...this is November.
Instead of playing conservatively, Greg Davis drew this up:
Game. Set. Hawkeyes. Great play by C.J. Even better call by Greg. Give credit where credit is due.
The Bad: Penalties
Iowa's offensive possession midway through the second quarter was arguably one of the worst (if not the worst) offensive possessions I've ever seen. It was offensive. Iowa got to their 37 before an Adam Cox holding penalty moved them back to their 27. A couple plays later Boone Myers was hit with a hold, moving Iowa back to their 19. The Hawkeyes ended up punting and Indiana scored on their next possession.
There was also a face masking penalty and pass interference penalty that made significant gains for Indiana even greater. Both of those penalties came on drives that eventually led to touchdowns. In all, the Hawkeyes were penalized five times for 55 yards. Then again...REFS!
The Ugly: Rush Defense
I don't like Indiana running backs. Jordan Howard rushed for 176 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns. That's good for an average of 7.9 YPC. The majority of the yardage came in the same manner that it came a year prior with Tevin Coleman: find the outside edge, take advantage of Iowa's linebackers and/or poor angles by the secondary and boom yardage. Now, I understand that Miles Taylor was forced out of the game and Anthony Gair was less than impressive as a replacement, but how did King, Jewell, and Fisher all find themselves out of position on that 37-yard touchdown run? I mean, all Jewell had to do was lightly push him out of bounds. These were just mental lapses by players who have obviously learned from the mistakes they made a year prior. Fortunately, it didn't cost them...that much.