The easy way? Iowa? Why would they want to go and do something like that? Clearly, it's way more fun to give your fans heart attacks as often as possible. I suppose the good news is that we saw a lot of the things that have been painfully recurring motifs in loss after loss after loss under Ferentz -- but still managed to win. That's good, right?
Special teams failure (this week's variation was onside kick-flavored)? Check.
Massive breakdowns in the defensive secondary? Check.
Stupid penalties hampering Iowa at inopportune times? Check.
An offense that can't pick up a first down late and run out the clock? Check.
But for all that... Iowa still won the game. And it was a game that for three quarters they dominated. The offense was able to grind out several long, clock-eating drives: a 10 play, 71-yard drive that ended in Rudock's touchdown pass to Kevonte Martin-Manley, a 15 play, 55-yard drive that ended in Mike Meyer's first field goal, and a monstrous 15 play, 73-yard drive that ended in Rudock's QB sneak for Iowa's final touchdown in the fourth quarter. Iowa was held under 400 yards of offense for the first time this season (although they still ran a ton of plays -- 83 to be precise), and they were able to convert all that offensive dominance into just 27 points. Just like the first two games, a dropped pass here, a stupid penalty there hurt Iowa drives, leading to field goals or punts, which helped make the endgame much, much closer than it should have been.
As for the defense... Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde reared their all-too-familiar heads once again in this game. For the better part of three quarters, the defense put together their best performance of the season. They bottled up Iowa State's running game, got pressure on Iowa State QB Sam B. Richardson, and prevented Iowa State's passing game from doing much of anything. Iowa State didn't crack 100 yards of total offense until the third quarter. But that fourth quarter or, more precisely, those last seven minutes... yeesh. No pressure and coverage that gave up far too many big plays. (The bright spot, of course, was BJ Lowery's absurd interception, which... GO LOOK AT IT. I'll wait.) This game should have been an absolute laugher; instead, Iowa State was one onside kick recovery away from possibly (probably?) winning the game.
And speaking of onside kicks... murderdeathfuckingkillme. Maybe Lester Erb wasn't the whole damn problem after all. Maybe Chris White's NFL special teams acumen isn't an insta-fix after all. On one hand, it reminded me a bit of Northern Illinois' fake punt two weeks ago: a beautifully-executed play. On the other hand.... again? FUCKING AGAIN? This is stupid. It's not funny (well not "funny haha," at least) and it almost cost Iowa this game. Special teams need, need, need, need to be a net-positive for Iowa to be a good team; as long as Iowa continues to give up big, dumb, costly plays like that, they won't be.
A few other quick thoughts...
* I love, love, love Mark Weisman. Watching him emasculate the Iowa State defense over and over and over again was brilliant. But his workload is getting stupid. 30 carries last week, 35 carries this week? I love the Juggernaut, but I also want to be able to watch him in October (let alone November). It would be nice if we could ease off on his insane, LeVeon Bell-esque workload against Western Michigan next week.
* For the most part, the playcalling in this game seemed pretty solid; penalties and drops were probably the biggest reasons Iowa failed to crack 30 points in this game. But on a few drives in the first half, the playcalling did seem a little cutesy; the Iowa offensive line was mauling their Iowa State counterparts and Weisman was ripping off big runs with ease, but we didn't keep feeding Weisman (or the other running backs) as much as possible, opting for passes (or that end-around/reverse with Jordan Cotton). Eventually Greg Davis stopped being cute and just let Iowa pulverize Iowa State with run after run after run straight up the gut.
* I thought Ray Hamilton had a really strong game. It was quiet on the box score (just two catches for 34 yards), although at least one of his catches was for a key third down conversion. But he was also doing work in the run-blocking game; for a while, he seemed to be right in the mix of things for every good Weisman run. Good job, Cobra Kai. I hope this earns you more snaps.
* Darian Cooper got a sack! That was fun. It's less-fun that I can count Iowa's sacks by defensive linemen this year on one hand. (Hell, I can probably count all of Iowa's sacks this year on one hand, position be damned.) Sacks aren't the be-all, end-all, but come on -- we need more sacks.
* Great defensive play by James Morris on the interception right before halftime; shame he wasn't able to return it all the way for a touchdown.
* Remember all the times we complained about BTN? I TAKE IT ALL BACK. (Or most of it back, anyway.) Good god, that Fox Sports 1 crew was stunningly bad.
* So after the last two years, neither team is ever going to wear old-school throwback uniforms for this game again, are they?
* Oh yeah, WE WON. We beat Iowa State. We added another rivalry trophy to the trophy case. Let's not forget that.
Finally, the Community Player Ratings: