Coming off the bye week, I for one was optimistic about the kind of Iowa team we’d see on Ryan Field in front of what was always destined to be a 50/50 split between the Purple Nerds and the Iowa faithful that surround the Chicago area.
That optimism slowly started to creep out of my body with the news that BOTH Brandon Snyder and Josey Jewell were not suiting up for todays game.
Perhaps the coaching staff assumed they had a game plan in place that would eventually pile drive Northwestern into submission? That’s the way it looked on the first few drives of the game. Iowa came out throwing (to Nick Easley) and Akrum Wadley looked like the same dude that feasts ALL over Northwestern. But they couldn’t find the end zone.
In fact nobody could. After all, this is Iowa vs. Northwestern. At Ryan Field. It’s never simple.
I’m going to cut through all the manotony that happened (Honestly, it’s nothing but a ton of punts, penalties and horrible play calls on both parties) and get right to the end of the half when Iowa finally put points on the board.
After the Iowa defense (in their Raider package) shut down Northwestern to force them to punt for what seemed like the 10th time in the first half. Of course, because the Hawkeyes decided to play the first half as if they were Cheddar Bob from 8-Mile they wiped away a great return from Meerkat.
Thankfully, Matt VandeBerg wouldn’t let that stop him from making a big play. On first down, Nate Stanley hits his second deep ball of the game (the first came on the opening drive to Nick Easley for 26-yards) with a beautiful drop in the bucket for 61-yards:
That’s an “explosive play.” #Hawkeyes pic.twitter.com/RjOoEDJRHI— Cody Hills (@chillsvds) October 21, 2017
Go figure...explosive plays lead to positive things for your football team and despite a false start by Tristan Wirfs, the Hawkeyes moved the chains that allowed Brian Ferentz to draw up a beautiful play that would’ve gotten one of two guys wide open for a score:
Stanley to Fant. Easy button. #Hawkeyes pic.twitter.com/Q1BEis8j0p— Cody Hills (@chillsvds) October 21, 2017
7-0, Hawkeyes at the half.
That was ugly... but yet, you have to happy with the way the Iowa defense responded without their leader and a the Illinois-playmaker behind him. They held Clayton Thorson to 9-16 passing for 79 yards through the air and shut down the Northwestern running game.
If Iowa want’s to blow the doors off this game (and keep me from writing my official Top-5 reasons I love to Nap during the second half), the D is going to have to force Thorson to turn the ball over (There have been opportunities. Hell, Josh Jackson has had two all by himself.).
We’ll see if that happens.
It didn’t happen. After Northwestern delivered the punt of the year, the Wildcats eventually got the ball back and found it’s mojo after a a Thorson 21-yard scamper to move the chains on 3rd and 15. Of course, that only meant one thing. Iowa bends and bends and finally breaks after a a Jeremy Larkin 6-yard run for a touchdown.
kevinmcguire: Northwestern had an 80-yard punt against Iowa ESPN 2 College Football: Iowa a… https://t.co/HC2rkTYcKi pic.twitter.com/PnS2jS77FY— FanSportsClips (@FanSportsClips) October 21, 2017
On the proceeding Iowa possession the offense looked lost after three straight negative plays. There is a theme building here. So, why not get into what I joked about all day on Twitter?
First Reason Why Early Afternoon Naps are the Best:
You get to miss the majority of a Big Ten game between two teams trying to out do each other for the “Setting-offense-back-thirty-years” championship belt.
This game was so bad that I got this text from my wife who was brunching in Des Moines with some of her pals from school:
“Are you covering this game because I think Iowa’s offense is a f****** headcase!”
People are saying she’s spot on.
Northwestern goes for it on fourth twice, converting once and turning the ball over on downs on the other... I hate this game.
Second Reason Why Early Afternoon Naps are the Best:
You don’t have to feel pain when you’re team is playing a 7-7 game going into the 4th quarter. Instead you get to dream about fun things like Pat Fitzgerald crying.
Iowa, of course, gets themselves into a 3rd and 15 situatio and Brian Ferentz draws up the coveted read-option that goes ABSOLUTELY nowhere. Punt
Third Reason Why Early Afternoon Naps are the Best:
You’re not going to be tired to watch Michigan at Penn State.
So far, Northwestern has 170-yards of offense and 7-points on the board. Iowa has 21 and no points. I’m not an expert, but that’s not the best recipe for success.
On the proceeding drive, Northwestern goes for it once again on 4th down at the 16-yard line and convert on a Bush Push. They then go nowhere after a huge sack by Anthony Nelson on third down and FINALLY Fitzgerald kicks a field goal.
After a good return on the kick off, Iowa picks up a few yards on first, runs Wadley into the teeth of the defense off the tackle on second and Stanley throws a pick on what looked like a miscommunication with Ihmir Smith-Marsette. Northwestern ball on Iowa’s 35-yard line...
Fourth Reason Why Early Afternoon Naps are the Best:
If Iowa loses and you don’t see it, it never happened right?
Of course Northwestern sputters out with three quick plays, goes for it on 4th down and doesn’t convert. Could Pat Fitzgerald kicked his way to a victory today? Probz. But that’s not what Midwesterners want from their Big Ten games (that is, according to Jason Benetti).
With the ball on their own 30, Iowa runs up the gut with Wadley for one yard. On second, Stanley almost gets picked off again. On third, Stanley knits his way to a first down to TJ Hockenson who is weirdly Iowa’s most sure handed pass catcher.
Stanley moves the chains on third down again with the same play that was successful on the touchdown right before the half. On the next play he dumps the ball off to Wadley who waddles for another first down and...
Oh my god... oh my god... oh my god... Is this going to happen?
After a few more Wadley runs (including third and one), Iowa gets stuck at the Northwestern 26 facing a fourth and inches. Kirk elects to go for it and of EFFING course Iowa gets penalized for a false start on THE ENTIRE RIGHT SIDE OF THE LINE.
Recinos comes in for the 48-yarder ANDDDDDD the kick is good!
10-10 with 1:30 left in what is easily one of the most poorly coached and played football games you’ve ever seen.
Am I the only one that feels dirty?
With two timeouts and TONS of time on the clock in a tied ball game at home, Pat Fitzgerald elects to play for overtime because of course he does.
Iowa wins the toss and elects to go on defense first. Iowa gets Northwestern into a third and long and Justin Jackson gets loose for a 23-yard gain to the 1-yard line. Thorson punches it in two plays later.
With the game and any sort of Big Ten Championship dream on the line, Iowa starts off running to the short side of the field for three. Stanley rolls right and chucks the ball out of bounds after seeing nothing down field (but some daylight in front of him). Wadley goes up the middle for four yards on third down. And on fourth, Noah Fant gets open on a stick route and drops an easy first down.
Ball game, Northwestern.
We all might be napping more the rest of the season...