The Iowa Hawkeyes offense seemed to have fix its problems from last year during its recent four-game winning streak. On Saturday however, Iowa’s issues resurfaced and aided a 26-14 loss to the Michigan State Spartans.
The Spartans came into Kinnick Stadium allowing only 12 points per game and kept Iowa from moving the ball offensively for most of the afternoon.
In the first quarter, the Hawkeyes managed just 20 yards of offense.
Sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock was playing in just his second Big Ten game of his career and his inexperience showed.
Through a majority of the first half Iowa struggled to move the ball offensively. It seemed as if the Hawkeyes would be kept scoreless heading into halftime.
Rudock however, stole the momentum away from the Spartans with his best stretch of passing as Iowa’s starting quarterback.
The Weston, Fla. native completed his last eleven passes of the first half for 138 yards and two touchdowns. Rudock’s spurt of offense gave the Hawkeyes a 14-10 lead heading into halftime.
Although the Spartans were down by four at halftime, they field arguably the nations stingiest defense — Michigan State’s unit was the only team in the nation allowing fewer than 200 total yards per game.
The Spartans defense was stout against Iowa but they also benefitted from having the more poised quarterback.
Rudock had flashes of brilliance but threw two interceptions. His second interception, late in the fourth quarter sealed the Hawkeyes loss.
Michigan State’s Connor Cook on the other hand threw for more yards (277), while throwing for two touchdowns and only one interception. His offensive line held firm and allowed him to pick apart Iowa’s secondary.
Michigan State wide receivers Macgarrett Kings Jr. and Bennie Fowler both had over 90 yards receiving and a touchdown.
Iowa had numerous opportunities to build on what Rudock and company did in the waning minutes of the first half but the Hawkeyes couldn’t capitalize on their opportunities.
The Hawkeyes offensive linemen allowed the Spartan defense to not only apply consistent pressure on Rudock but also to prevent any-form of a rushing attack.
Running back Mark Weisman — who was averaging 123 yards per game — carried the ball nine times for seven yards, both season-lows. Iowa finished the game with just 23 yards rushing.
Iowa’s offensive and defensive lines have struggled this year and without adequate play from its men inside the trenches the Hawkeyes will continue to lose games against Big Ten teams.
The Hawkeyes have a bye week to try and improve schematically so that the offense can fare better against Big Ten defenses and hopefully take some pressure off a defense that can’t create any pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Iowa resumes play on Oct. 19 against no. 4 Ohio State.