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Stock watch: Iowa football post-Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin: Great for drinking, terrible for Iowa football.

NCAA Football: Iowa at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to Stock Watch.

I’d like to kick things off by reminding everyone that Iowa hasn’t beaten a ranked opponent on the road since No. 20 Northwestern 40-10 on Oct. 17, 2015. The Hawkeyes are 0-5 since then.

That’s football.

I will be patiently waiting for that next road win over a top-25 team. In the meantime, here’s whose stock is rising and falling after Iowa’s 24-22 loss to Wisconsin.

Stock down: Iowa’s offense. All of it.

If there’s one thing that remains constant this season, it’s the fact that Iowa has struggled to produce on offense this season, specifically when facing Big Ten opponents.

Remember that guy Greg Davis? The offensive coordinator Iowa fans ran out of town due to his completely inept offense?

Davis retired in 2016. In his final season as offensive coordinator, Iowa averaged 5 yards per play and 23.7 points per game when facing Big Ten teams.

This season – Brian Ferentz’s third as offensive coordinator – the Hawkeye offense is averaging the same number of yards per play and 4.9 points FEWER per game in 2019 against conference opponents.

This offense, against Big Ten teams, has been worse than in GD’s final season in Iowa City. Let that sink in.

Until things clicked in the second half, Iowa’s offense was completely nonexistent – quarterback Nate Stanley threw just six passes in the fist half for 27 yards.

Iowa’s first touchdown drive was a step in the right direction. Stanley was six-of-seven for 69 yards and a touchdown. Up until then, he was six-of-12 for 40 yards.

It’s a shame that offensive urgency didn’t come earlier.

Stock up: Tyrone Tracy Jr.

Remember when I said the stock was down on ALL of Iowa’s offense? There is one bright spot, and that’s wide receiver Tyrone Tracy Jr.

For the second straight game, Tracy proved to be Iowa’s best play-maker in the passing game. Against Wisconsin, he caught five passes for 130 yards and a touchdown.

His touchdown, a 75-yard catch-and-run, was Iowa’s best play offensively in Madison.

He’s slowly becoming one of Stanley’s favorite targets, and rightfully so. In the past two games – both without usual starter Brandon SmithTracy stepped up, hauling in seven passes for 218 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

The other Hawkeye receivers accounted for 14 catches for 80 yards and one touchdown over that same stretch.

Stock down: Iowa’s run defense

Iowa entered Madison with one of the country’s best defenses overall, specifically in the run game.

The Hawkeyes came into the game ranking eighth in the nation, allowing just 87.8 yards on the ground per game.

Wisconsin laughed at that.

Badger tailback Jonathan Taylor got whatever he wanted against the Hawkeye defense, running for 250 yards on 31 carries, averaging eight yards per touch.

In total, Wisconsin gained 307 yards (!!!) on the ground. For those who hate math, the Badgers more than tripled what the Hawkeyes typically allow.

Granted, Iowa isn’t going to face teams with the offensive line and running backs like Wisconsin boats each week, but the point remains – the Hawkeyes had no answers. None.

Stock up: Matt Hankins

The Hawkeye secondary gave up two chunk plays, both to Badger wide receiver Quintez Cephus: a 52-yard reception and a 27-yard touchdown. Take away those two plays and Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan’s stat line is 14-of-24 for 94 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Cornerback Matt Hankins looked sharp. He wasn’t burned on a route and snagged his first career interception (which resulted in a touchdown from Iowa’s offense, I might add).

Hankins also led the team with eight tackles, his second-most in a game this season.

Stock down: Iowa’s third-down offense

Can we tear apart this Hawkeye offense even more? Yes.

Iowa’s third-down offense was essentially nonexistent against Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes converted on just one of their nine attempts. That’s the worst third-down conversation percentage in a single game this season for the Hawkeyes. Iowa fared better in arguably some of its worst games of the year (six-for-17 against Michigan, three-for-13 against Purdue).

Iowa’s offense converts a pedestrian 40.4 percent of its third downs this year, ranking eight in the Big Ten and 67th in the country. Stalled drives are the name of the game this year.

Stock up: Keith Duncan

Iowa inability to score touchdowns means field goals galore, and Keith Duncan has been nearly automatic this season.

After hitting three field goals against Wisconsin, he’s now at 22 for the season – a program record. He’s 22-for-25 this year.

I always think back to Iowa’s win against Purdue when the football’s Twitter account ironically tweeted, “Iowa runs on Duncan!”

Kudos to Duncan for being a machine. Also, a gold star for the social media team for being aware of offense’s ineptitude.

Glass half-full, I guess.

Stock down: Oliver Martin

I’m just going to keep including him on the list until he catches his first pass since Sept. 28.