IOWA CITY, Ia. — This Iowa football team is just good enough to break your heart.
If Saturday’s 28-9 loss to Wisconsin didn’t prove it, a little fourth quarter math will.
The Hawkeyes have been outscored 71-27 during the final 15 minutes this season — and that includes 33-0 the last four games.
“Coach (Kirk Ferentz) hounds and hounds about, ‘You’ve got to play the full 60,’” senior safety Tanner Miller said. “That’s just something we have to work on and get better at.”
The Hawkeyes (5-4, 2-3 in the Big Ten Conference) have led in each of their nine games. In fact, they hold a 47-13 scoring advantage in the first quarter.
But it never feels like enough.
Iowa’s first four possessions Saturday began at Wisconsin’s 49, Wisconsin’s 39, Iowa’s 44 and Wisconsin’s 41.
The result was a slim 3-0 lead, on Mike Meyer’s 28-yard field goal.
“We didn’t have anything going early,” Badgers coach Gary Andersen said. “And (the Hawkeyes) were playing pretty salty defense.
“We couldn’t run the ball, it seemed like, an inch. And we couldn’t throw the ball. Our punt game was a little bit all over the place with the wind.”
Meyer’s second field goal, from 22 yards, put Iowa ahead 6-0.
Then things started to unravel.
Joel Stave threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Pedersen, and Jack Russell’s extra-point kick put Wisconsin on top 7-6.
The Badgers went on to outscore Iowa 28-3 in the last 32 minutes, including 14-0 in the fourth quarter.
“Our schemes just weren’t working against what they were doing and they took over,” Hawkeye defensive end Nate Meier said. “We knew coming in it would be a dogfight.
“We just didn’t pull through.”
Two different quarterbacks tried to muster some momentum offensively, but neither starter Jake Rudock nor C.J. Beathard could lift the Hawkeyes out of their funk.
In fact, they took turns throwing costly interceptions, which led to Wisconsin touchdowns.
“I couldn’t really tell you exactly what (the Badgers) were doing,” Beathard said. “We weren’t executing like we should.
“We couldn’t get the job done.”
Iowa had seven drives end in Wisconsin territory, but never reached the end zone.
“If you’re going to play a team like that … you’ve got to come away with points,” Ferentz said. “Field goals are better than nothing, but they’re not going to win a game like this.”
Eventually, the defense wore down.
A Kinnick Stadium crowd of 69,812 fell mostly silent when Stave threw a 20-yard touchdown to Jared Abbrederis midway through the third quarter, putting the Badgers ahead 14-6.
It was still just a one-possession game, but it felt like a lot more.
The Hawkeyes have not scored in the fourth quarter since Meyer hit a 46-yard field goal at Minnesota on Sept. 28.
Their last fourth-quarter touchdown came on a 16-yard run by Jordan Canzeri against Western Michigan, Sept. 21.
Wisconsin held the ball for 10 minute, 5 seconds in the fourth quarter Saturday, outgaining Iowa 148 yards to 78.
“It’s always frustrating when you can’t score (a touchdown),” receiver Don Shumpert said, “but you’ve got to regroup and get back at it.”
The Hawkeyes will make another run at finishing strong — and becoming bowl eligible — next week at Purdue.
“I don’t think we’re that far away,” Ferentz said. “It’s hardly a hopeless case.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football