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The Iowa Hawkeyes did something last week that not long ago seemed almost unthinkable. Not only did they clinch a share of the Big Ten West title, but they were enjoyable to watch for the second half of that 22-0 win over Rutgers.
The Hawkeye topped more than 400 yards of total offense for the first time in more than two years in the effort, led by quarterback Deacon Hill, who threw for 223 yards. It was the highest output by an Iowa QB all season with only Spencer Petras’ 241 yards against Michigan last season topping that mark in the last two years. The passing game helped to open up the box for the Iowa rushing attack, which added 179 yards on the ground.
In short, it was the the best we’ve seen an Iowa offense look in quite some time. And while it was only the second half that saw the scoring, it was a full game of success. Iowa had no 3-and-outs for the entire game and left Tory Taylor to punt just three times. The Hawkeyes dominated time of possession by more than 17 minutes. It was finally, truly, complementary football.
The win puts Iowa firmly atop the Big Ten West standings. With losses yet again from Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes now hold a commanding two-game lead in the West. Behind them in a massive five-car pile-up is everyone else in the division not named Purdue tied for second place at 3-4 in the conference play. It sets up for Iowa to clinch a trip to Indianapolis with a win on senior day this weekend, but also gives the Hawkeyes the wiggle room to lose a game and still win the division.
The question now is, did the offense actually turn a corner? Or was this our annual Brian Ferentz aberration game?
Perhaps more pointedly, did Deacon Hill do enough in is 20/31 passing day to earn back some trust and confidence? And will do you expect it to be enough to get the Hawkeyes over the line this weekend as they play host to the Illini?
Let us know your thoughts in this week’s Reacts poll and in the comments below.