The Iowa Hawkeyes came into Saturday’s matchup with the Indiana Hoosiers looking to keep their undefeated season alive as they faced a Hoosiers team that had lost four straight games coming in.
Indiana was coming off of their bye week looking to put their losing streak behind them, but couldn’t quite get it done. They had chances throughout to get off of the field on third downs and put the ball in the endzone rather than through the uprights, but it just wasn’t happening for the Hoosiers on this day.
“We’ve been too good against a lot of teams,” Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said. “We had a good plan, but it just wasn’t enough.”
That just seems to sum up the season right there for the Hoosiers as they stayed in this ballgame until the bitter end, but just couldn’t quite get it done against a top ranked opponent like Iowa who came away with a 35-27 victory.
The Iowa Hawkeyes have always prided themselves on running the ball between the tackles and playing tough defense. Saturday was no exception to that rule. The Hoosiers’ defense probably played well enough to pull off the upset, but when you go up against a defense like Iowa, they will make it very hard for you to do what you want to do.
“Defensively, we haven’t been good enough to sustain stops,” Wilson said. “The defense was a lot better, but we need to keep pushing.”
When Iowa has two running backs in LeShun Daniels Jr. and Akrum Wadley who combine for 198 yards and three touchdowns, it makes it hard on your defense especially when the Hawkeyes had the play action working like they did Saturday.
What Indiana wanted to do was to get running back Jordan Howard going, and I think it is safe to say they accomplished that. Howard had one of his best games as a Hoosier rushing for 174 yards on 22 carries while punching it into the endzone twice. But, it just wasn’t enough.
Howard said this was the healthiest he has felt since coming back from his ankle injury he suffered against Ohio State.
It looked like it was going to be a long day at the office for Indiana as on the second play of the game, Akrum Wadley broke off a 65 yard rush to get to Hawkeyes on the board early. That got Iowa going in this one, but Indiana wasn’t going down without a fight.
Indiana came back and put together a nice drive to go down and put some points up on the board by way of a Griffin Oakes 32 yard field goal.
From there, Indiana’s defense held strong until the start of the second quarter where Iowa took their biggest lead of the first half when LeShun Daniels Jr. punched it into the endzone to make it 14-3.
After that touchdown Indiana could have just crumbled from there, but they were mentally strong and ripped off two touchdown drives before the half was over. Coach Kevin Wilson mentioned the fifth year seniors providing this team with energy, and that could have been the trigger.
Jordan Howard really got going on those two drives as he ran in a 37 yard touchdown which was followed by a 29 yard rush later in the quarter and from there, it looked like Indiana was serious about an upset bid up 17-14.
Before the second quarter was over, Iowa quarterback CJ Beathard really got it going. He led a 10 play, 65 yard drive in 3:35 which resulted in an Iowa touchdown and from there, Iowa never looked back up 21-17 heading into the half.
Beathard finished the day 19-for-31 for 233 yards and a touchdown through the air along with rushing for 38 yards and a touchdown.
After halftime, Indiana opened the fourth quarter by going down and getting a field goal, but field goals are not going to get it done when you are trying to pull off an upset like this one against an undefeated Iowa team.
Once this Iowa team extended their lead to 28-20 and then 35-20 in the fourth quarter, it got hard to keep running the ball, which was what was working for the Hoosiers in this one. In total, they rushed for 227 yards and passed for 180 yards.
“Nate [Sudfeld] was a little bit off,” Wilson said. “We are a better team when we have the run, but in the third quarter, we couldn’t muster enough offense.”
The Hoosiers’ only touchdown of the second half came with 2:24 left in the game, and by that point, the chances of a victory were looking grim.
There were some good things to take away from this for the Hoosiers, however, as quarterback Nate Sudfeld became the all-time leader in IU history in touchdown passes with 49 following his fourth quarter strike to Michael Cooper.
Following this loss to Iowa, Indiana will hope to end their home slate with a win next weekend as the Michigan Wolverines will pay a visit to Bloomington to face the Hoosiers. They currently sit a 4-5 and need at least one more win to be considered for a bowl.
As for Iowa, they return home next weekend to face off against Minnesota and will try to keep their undefeated season alive.