It’s OK to say it now, Iowa fans.
This team is FOR REAL.
The Iowa Hawkeyes are 6-0 in the Big Ten for the first time in school history.
Iowa is 9-1 overall and they will likely move even higher in the polls that saw them ranked #9 in the AP and #10 in the Coaches poll and BCS poll.
In beating Wisconsin 20-3 at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday and allowing just 215 yards of offense for the visiting Badgers, the Hawkeyes have put themselves within two games of the Big Ten championship and just the third undefeated conference season in school history.
The 1921 and 1922 Iowa Hawkeyes finished the Big Ten 5-0. These Hawkeyes are a Wildcat and a Gopher away from being a perfect 8-0 in league play.
But on Saturday, Iowa stymied a strong Wisconsin ground game, allowing just 78 yards of rushing. They knocked Wisconsin’s top two quarterback’s out of the game and they held Wisconsin to a season low three points.
Iowa has allowed just one touchdown in its last three Big Ten games. That TD came last week against Michigan after Iowa punter David Bradley dropped a snap that gave Michigan the ball on the Iowa one yard line.
That possession was Michigan’s only visit to the Iowa redzone last week and Wisconsin would visit Iowa’s redzone just one time on Saturday.
‘Domination’ seems like an appropriate word to use right about now, doesn’t it?
Iowa's defense has taken a lot of heat this season for giving up passing yardage, but Wisconsin’s three quarterback’s could muster just 137 passing yards on the day. Last week, Michigan managed just 149 yards passing.
Coming into the Wisconsin game, Iowa’s pass defense had taken a lot of heat on the season as they were allowing 301 yards per game through the air.
But Iowa held Wisconsin to 137 yards passing a week after holding Michigan to 149 yards passing.
Clearly, the Iowa defense is getting better each and every week.
Fred Russell did not dress for this game as he was resting a hand injury suffered in the Michigan game.
Backup Jermelle Lewis turned in a solid performance, gaining 85 yards on 25 carries. His yards per carry was not sparkling, but he held on to the football and did not make the mental mistakes that had kept him off of the field in 2002.
Iowa quarterback Brad Banks had the best game of his career and continues to provide message board fodder as having possibly the best season by a quarterback in Iowa history.
Banks was 17 of 30 for 275 yards and two touchdown passes and no interceptions. He netted 25 rushing yards on seven carries. For the season, Banks has thrown 20 touchdown passes and just four interceptions. He becomes just the second quarterback in Iowa history to throw for 20 or more touchdown passes in a single season. Chuck Long did it twice in 1985 (27) and 1984 (22).
Banks did a great job of spreading the wealth on Saturday, hooking up with Dallas Clark (five catches for 97 yards) and Mo Brown (six catches for 107 yards) for touchdown receptions.
Wisconsin was selling out to stop the run and the Hawkeyes ‘scratched it where it itched’ in beating the Badgers through the air.
Iowa held Wisconsin star rusher Anthony Davis to just 34 yards on 16 carries, although Davis topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season. Wisconsin has produced a 1,000-yard rusher in each of the last 10 years, matching the ten-year streak by USC. North Carolina has the record in that department, producing 12 straight 1,000-yard rushers several years ago.
Nate Kaeding missed a field goal in the third quarter, which brought his school-record streak of consecutive field goals to an end at 22 in a row.
But this was clearly a day to remember for the sellout Kinnick Stadium crowd. The Iowa Hawkeyes had a chance to have a letdown after last week’s emotional 34-9 victory in Ann Arbor.
While they started slow, the Hawkeyes came out and dominated the third quarter en route to the easy victory.
Iowa hosts Northwestern next week before their season ending trip to Minneapolis. But these Hawkeyes have shown their loyal followers that it’s ‘one game at a time’, so the focus next week will be on the Wildcats who just beat Indiana.
That might be a good thing, considering the Hawkeyes didn’t play their best game against the Hoosiers.
It will give Kirk Ferentz and his staff something to keep the players grounded and focused on the task at hand.
Just don’t tell them that they are two wins away from Hawkeye immortality. But then again, they are already doing things that no Iowa team has ever done.
With Notre Dame losing to unranked Boston College today, Kirk Ferentz is the front runner for National College Coach of the Year.
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Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz:
“I’m proud of the way our players played. We did a great job protecting the football, which was going to be important in this game. I thought we played well all three phases. I’m happy about that and obviously very happy with the way our defense continues to improve.”
“Our guys are playing well. I’m not going to deny that. Our older guys are doing a great job showing the way for the younger guys, the guys who haven’t gotten much play. That’s so critical.”
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“Our players are mature football players, just playing the way they have to play if they’ve going to play at the winning Big 10 level. Those guys are effective in being able to do that.”
(On Kaeding’s field goal miss) “It’s time to start a new streak. If we had to miss one, that was probably the right one to miss because it doesn’t hurt us. When it counts, he’ll [Kaeding] be there.”
“It was a very gratifying win, out of respect of Wisconsin. Our guys like to hit. That’s been a Hawkeye tradition, one that we’re starting to pick up again.”
Wisconsin head coach Barry Alvarez:
“We were beaten by a very good football team. They have no weakness. We came in thinking we could run on them. But we could not. I thought our guys battle d and competed. We just got beat.”
(On those two wide open completions) “We had a bust. There was a combination called and it was busted coverage.”
“Their front four and their linebackers played very well. Plan B is if you can’t run it you try to throw. That didn’t work either. I’m not making excuses. They out-executed us.”
“You hate to give them momentum with an easy touchdown. That’s the way I felt at halftime. But we were still in the football game for sure. They (Iowa) are surely deserving of being a top ten team.”
Iowa is 6-0 in the Big Ten Conference for the first time in its history. Iowa is 9-1 overall for the first time 1991.
QB Brad Banks finished the game with 296 yards of total offense. He completed 17-30 passes for a career high 275 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions. His previous career-high was 261 yards at Penn State (9/28) this year. He rushed nine times for 21 yards. He completed a 21-yard touchdown to WR Maurice Brown in the second quarter and a 23-yard touchdown to TE Dallas Clark in the third quarter.
Banks has thrown two touchdowns or more in seven of Iowa’s 10 contests this season.
Banks has thrown for 20 touchdowns this season, which ranks third in school history behind Chuck Long’s 27 in 1985 and 22 in 1984.
Iowa won the toss an elected to receive. The Hawkeyes have started on offense in 38 of its last 39 games. Iowa failed to score on its opening drive today. It marked the third time this season that the Hawkeyes failed to score on its opening drive and the second time they started a game three-and-out.
Wisconsin failed to score on its opening drive today, becoming the ninth opponent not to score points on its opening drive. Today marked the first time this season Iowa failed to score in the first quarter. Iowa’s previous low was three points vs. Purdue (10/5). Iowa has scored first in nine of its 10 games, with the exception being against Michigan State (10/12).
PK Nate Kaeding connected on field goals of 32 and 30 yards to extend his school record streak of consecutive field goals made to 22 overall and 19 this season. Kaeding missed a 27-yard field goal in the third quarter to snap his streak. His last miss prior to today’s game was in the first half of the Alamo Bowl last season.
Iowa’s defense held Wisconsin RB Anthony Davis to a career-low 16 carries for 34 yards. His previous low was 11 carries for 46 yards vs. Penn State this season. Hawkeye opponents have eclipsed the 100-yard mark in only one game this season (Indiana). Iowa held Wisconsin to 78 yards rushing, which is its second lowest total this season. The Badgers rushed for a season-low 68 yards vs. Northern Illinois.
Iowa’s defense has yielded only one touchdown in its last three contests. Michigan scored a one-yard touchdown last week after recovering an Iowa dropped punt attempt on its one-yard line.
Iowa has led at the half in nine of its 10 games. Purdue is the only team to have the lead over the Hawkeyes at the break (14-10). WR Maurice Brown finished the game with six receptions for 107 yards to lead Iowa’s receivers. It marks the fourth time this season Brown has eclipsed 100 yards in a game.
Wisconsin’s Brandon Williams ran back the opening kickoff of the second half for 30 yards, which is the longest kickoff return Iowa has yielded this season.
DB Jovon Johnson collected his third interception this season, while DB Derek Pagel picked off his fourth pass to lead the team. Johnson currently ranks second on the team with LB Grant Steen.
RB Jeremelle Lewis ran 25 times for 81 yards to lead Iowa’s rushing attack. Today marked only the second time this season that Iowa did not have a 100-yard rusher: the other game being vs. MSU (10/12). RB Fred Russell missed today’s game with a hand injury. It marked the second contest this year that he has missed. Russell missed Iowa’s game vs. Utah State (9/21).
Iowa has recorded at least two interceptions in five of its last six games. Iowa has collected 15 interceptions this year.
Photos used with permission from the Associated Press and Charlie Niebergall