The Iowa Hawkeyes rode a dominant first-half performance to a 16-point win over the Maryland Terrapins Saturday afternoon. The Hawkeyes scored 21 first-half points and allowed Maryland to cross the 50 yard line just once. At halftime, Iowa held a 172-yard advantage in total offense, with nine more first downs and seven more minutes of possession than Maryland. It was as quietly dominant a performance, especially by Iowa's defense, as we have seen all season.
In the second half, that all went away. Maryland's running game, particularly through quarterback Perry Hills, took hold. Hills, who had just 25 first-half rushing yards, finished with 104 yards on 19 carries. Halfbacks Wes Brown and Brandon Ross added 56 more rushing yards in the second half (they had a combined 8 yards in the first). And while Maryland's passing game remained atrocious -- the Terps completed just 11 passes for 74 yards -- they didn't need it to move down the field on the Hawkeyes.
Meanwhile, on the offensive side of the ball, Iowa's still-duct-taped offensive line struggled mightily with Maryland's pass rush, and the running game stalled. The Hawkeyes had just 30 rushing yards in the second half, nearly all through LeShun Daniels. C.J. Beathard went just 12/23 for 183 yards and still clearly looks hobbled; any quarterback run component of the offense has been scrubbed out of existence. And while Beathard's pinpoint passing was crucial in the non-conference season, he has yet to top 60 percent in a Big Ten game.
The upshot of it all: Iowa's offense scored just three points in the second half, through a 49-yard field goal from Marshall Koehn. The Hawkeyes' other score came on a screen pass intercepted by Desmond King and returned 88 yards for a touchdown, one of three interceptions on the day by Iowa's defense. A Will Likely 105-yard kickoff return won the second half for the Terps.
Much of this is easily explainable. Iowa has never been a particularly sharp team after a bye week. The team is still recovering from myriad injuries (and could have more; Nate Meier left the game late in obvious agony). The offensive line, arguably the most injured group, is also shuffling positions constantly and remains largely inexperienced. Iowa's offensive gameplan, heavy on deep seam patterns, might not have been what its quarterback needed against a team known to blitz constantly. And any team with as dominant a first half as Iowa had -- both Saturday and this season -- is expected to take the foot off the pedal for a moment.
We're not going to take too much away from this, then. The Hawkeyes remain undefeated, and the result was never truly in doubt. If the second half carries over to next week, there are problems. But for tonight, I think we're free to move our feet.