After three games where the #5 Iowa Hawkeyes (4-0) were able to assert their will early and ride it out to early wins, the Hawks finally faced an outfit up to the challenge in the Colorado State Rams (1-3). In a game which was rarely easy due to the Rams’ management of field position, clock, and turnovers, the Hawkeyes prevailed 24-14.
The Hawkeyes were paced by Spencer Petras’ most prolific day of his career, though it was marred by a brutally low moment. He finished with 224 yards on 15/23 passing with 2 TDs and 1 interception. The run game was stymied for much of it with just 54 yards and Tyler Goodson led there with 57 yards on 18 carries.
The Rams set the tone by receiving the ball to open the game - the first of any Hawkeye opponent so far - and was able to win the field position game for a scoreless first quarter. Iowa shifted things a bit with their final possession of the period and snuck in a Tyler Goodson run just before the quarter ended. Brian Ferentz added a little bit of flair by getting the freshmen wideouts involved - Arland Bruce IV on a 13 yard end around and a go-route to Keagan Johnson which resulted in Iowa’s first touchdown.
The punt trading continued but a rare Tory Taylor shank granted the Rams the ball at Iowa’s 35. They converted on a Todd Centeio draw play - he was continually a thorn in the Hawkeyes’ side in the run game but finished with just 31 yards - to tie it up at 7-7.
The Hawkeyes’ following drive started with another deep shot to Johnson but stalled as it got inside Ram territory. A busted tunnel screen to Tyrone Tracy was jumped on by Robert Floyd and he returned the pick 62 yards to set up Colorado State with just 1:32 left in the half. Centeio’s pass to Gary Williams made the halftime deficit 14-7 for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa struggled to get the offense into gear out of the break but a flip of the field and the first holding call of the game put CSU behind the chains. A miffed exchange saw the ball hit the ground and Jack Campbell jumped on it.
Brian dialed up a slick end-around to give Tracy a six-yard touchdown run and tie it up at 14.
The Hawkeye defense was absolutely cooking at this point and forced another three-and-out. Charlie Jones return gave Iowa excellent field position at the CSU 41. They cashed in on a third down pass interference with a wide-open Sam LaPorta TD. It was so wide open that the spinning ball penalty seemed absurd since there wasn’t a single Ram within 20 yards of him. Oh well.
A fourth quarter field goal got Iowa to 24 points and then the teams traded empty possessions the rest of the way.
- A lot of what fans were clamoring for came to fruition today, as Iowa regularly attacked the Rams secondary down the field. It led to some great plays - Johnson’s two grabs, Nico Ragaini, LaPorta all got in on the action - but also a fair amount of QB pressure, as Petras was sacked 3 times. He was certainly up-and-down - a red zone turnover inside of 2:00 is about as bad a scenario as could be envisioned - but Iowa took their shots early and often.
- Iowa just ... didn’t run a lot of plays, at 55. CSU did a solid job of keeping the run game in check and got the Hawks off the field in some precarious positions. To the defense’s credit, the Hawkeyes didn’t even bend that much. But the two times Colorado State had great field position, they cashed in. A better team running Kirk’s gameplan against him probably comes away with this one
- 3rd down defense was absolutely frustrating, though. It finished at 11/23 but was 9/13 at halftime. Phil Parker cleaned that up. Jack Campbell was a menace with 18 tackles. Seth Benson and Jestin Jacobs added 19 between the two of them as Iowa matched CSU’s TE-heavy personnel for the bulk of the game.