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Things aren’t great

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

What is there to say? Last year was almost certainly an aberration for Iowa football, and it’s time to come terms with the fact that the Hawkeyes are ... just not good.

Northwestern had a combined 65 points in four games before hanging 38 on Iowa. The Hawkeyes just couldn’t get out of their own way.

Things were looking up for an Iowa offense that scored 14 points in five minutes to close out the first half, but then went to sleep and the hurry-up offense that bore fruit went out the door.

We’ve talked about this offense turtling before ... and that’s exactly what it did. Iowa racked up just 284 yards of offense to Northwestern’s 362. It’s scary to think about how this score would look if it weren’t for 254 net yards on kick and punt returns.

The defense was suspect for sure, but it seemed to make plays when needed, while ghost penalties extended drives and helped put points on the board, but we can get in that later.

C.J. Beathard had zero help whatsoever from an offensive line that was heralded as one of the best in the country going into the season. He was sacked 6 times, 4 coming from Wildcats defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo. Something needs to be done about this protection. The offense certainly missed Matt VandeBerg’s playmaking ability, especially on third downs, but Riley McCarron stepped up when needed, catching 8 balls for 78 yards and a score. Jerminic Smith had one go off his fingertips late in the game; his hands remain a little suspect.

I see almost nothing in this team that we saw in the gutsy, hard-nosed squad from last year. Desmond King and Josey Jewell remain dominant, but this defensive line is nothing even when Jaleel Johnson is getting double and even triple-teamed at times. The safeties took bad angles all day, and when Iowa did blitz, it couldn’t get to Clayton Thorson fast enough.

Iowa travels to Minnesota next week, and I can’t help but think about what happened last time the Hawkeyes took the field in Minneapolis.