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The Morning After: Wisconsin, aka The Elimination Game

Mixed feelings as Iowa loses another close one.

Iowa v Wisconsin
Too often this was what it looked like when Jonathan Taylor had the ball.
Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Good morning all. I’m sure there are some headaches today from some excessive drinking before, during, and after the Hawkeyes 24-22 loss to the #16 ranked Wisconsin Badgers. As I write this on Saturday night, I’ve also had a couple cocktails so please forgive me for any grammatical issues.

I really don’t know how to feel after this loss. I predicted a loss. My prediction was even a worse spread than the actual result but it’s still tough to put thoughts together when there was a reasonable chance to steal a road victory.

I kept some notes during the game and the jest of the notes was simply “why is Wisconsin throwing the ball at all?”. Running back Jonathon Taylor is certainly an undeniable talent and he finished the game with 250 yards on 31 carries for an average of 8.1 yard per carry. It made no sense for Wisconsin to ever throw the ball and because they did, Iowa was allowed to stay in the game. Wisconsin has some beef on the offensive line and they certainly led the way for Taylor to run at will.

Iowa wasn’t able to contain the run game even when they knew it was coming and outside an A.J. Epenesa strip sack in the first quarter, didn’t get much pressure on Wisconsin when they didn’t blitz, which was very infrequently. I think they need to find ways to get more guys to the quarterback the rest of the season even if that means sending Geno Stone a few more times.

As for the Iowa offense, they seemed to be able to run the ball throughout the game while the passing game was a catastrophe in the first half. Unfortunately Iowa tried to mix things up and only ran 22 times for the entire game even though they were averaging five yards a carry for anyone not named Nate Stanley. Once they got down two scores, the passing game opened up and kept them in the game. By the end of the first half I was ready to see anyone but Stanley as it appeared he had happy feet in the pocket and he just can’t get over the hump against quality teams.

Here’s a video of the interior line blocking from the first half. You can see why Stanley wasn’t successful.

While the passing game was a detriment in the first half, it got Iowa back in the game during the second half. Stanley’s numbers on the day were 17-28 for 208 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. This seems like an acceptable line but I never got the feeling that Stanley could do what it took to win the game. The announcers kept gushing on Stanley’s measurables for the NFL but I just don’t see it. He is what he is, which is a guy that can win games where the team is expected to win but not step up and win the games where his team is the underdog.

In the end I couldn’t be too disappointed as I didn’t think they would win. They certainly showed fight but it’s been too many times that we’ve said that. Showing fight isn’t enough anymore against teams like Wisconsin and Penn State, it’s time to defeat them.

After watching Minnesota take down Penn State and Illinois come back against Michigan State, I’m not convinced that Iowa will go 3-0 the rest of the season. If they don’t play up to their ability, they could easily drop two of their last three.

At the end of the day, I certainly wasn’t surprised by anything that happened. I was amused by the following tweet though.

Other things to note:

  • Ohio State defensive end Chase Young the future #1 (or # 2) draft pick was ruled ineligible by the NCAA for borrowing money from a “family friend” to allow his girlfriend to come watch him play in a bowl game. Young supposedly payed back the loan. The NCAA is ridiculous.
  • Where was Oliver Martin? Either he isn’t as good as we hoped he would be or the Ferentz’s are stubborn as hell.
  • My top four after this weekend are LSU, Ohio State, Clemson, Georgia.
  • I still predict Redbox Bowl for Iowa.
  • My updated future line estimates: Minnesota +4, Illinois -7, Nebraska -6. Does this make sense? That would put them at 8-4 (like usual) but I could see anything from 9-3 to 6-6.