By ADAM JEWELL
The Hawks got back on the winning side after defeating Northwestern in a nailbiter, 17-10, in overtime. With the season winding down, the win brings the Hawkeyes to 5-3 with little to no room for error if they want to have a strong finish to the season. Let’s take a look back to see what was learned from Saturday’s win.
The Offense Still Has A Ways To Go
Once again the Iowa offense looked anemic, putting up 152 yards during the first half and 120 in the second. Iowa put together only two drives of 50 plus yards, the two that led to scores. Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock looked solid until his late game interception that could have cost the game. But he redeemed himself with a great throw to C.J. Fiedorowicz for a touchdown in overtime. The offense has lacked consistency, especially in the second half, ranking ninth in the conference in total offense and 11th in points scored.
The Defense Keeps Getting Better
Speaking of consistency, the Iowa defense keeps showing improvement over the weeks. The Hawkeye defense was able to slow down and contain the fast paced offense of the Wildcats by recording a season-high six sacks, forcing two fumbles, and recording 12 tackles for a loss. Anthony Hitchens and James Morris led the defense by making plays when it counted. Hitchens had nine tackles, a sack, and one forced fumble that shut down a Northwestern drive in Iowa territory. Morris recorded eight tackles, two sacks, and recovered Hitchens’ forced fumble.
The Road Ahead Looks Favorable
The Hawkeyes remaining schedule goes like this: Wisconsin, at Purdue, Michigan, at Nebraska. The schedule might look tough on paper, but it’s all about timing. Iowa first hosts a Wisconsin team that has shown signs of struggling. Purdue is a team that ranks dead last in the Big Ten in offense and points scored. Purdue ranks 8th in defense and 11th in points allowed. Michigan is going to be a truly tough test, however, the one saving grace is that it is at home. Iowa ends its season at Nebraska, a team that laid an egg against lowly Minnesota and still has to play Michigan, Michigan State, and PennState. This is where Iowa can make its second-half push and show that they can still compete. One more win and the Hawkeyes are bowl eligible, but with some luck 7-5 or 8-4 is still a possibility
Adam Jewell is a special contributor to DearOldGold.com