This Halloween game had some tricks and some treats.
Iowa played mediocre football against a mediocre team and came out with a mediocre 31-15 win. It didn’t look like “Kirk 3.0” out there on the playing field at Kinnick. The play calling was reminiscent of the days before we gave Michigan our quarterback leftovers, and so was the amount of audibles at the line of scrimmage. Ultimately, Iowa left with another win to tack onto their perfect record of 8-0, and theres certainly no reason that Iowa should be penalized for winning.
Koehn missed a 45 yard field goal on the opening drive, which is less than ideal. I saw him standing on the sidelines with a pissed expression on his face for most of Maryland’s following drive. It would have been nice to have scored some points, but the game wasn’t decided by three points so it doesn’t really matter in the long run. Koehn made all of his extra points, so we have to give him credit for that.
Maryland quarterback Perry Hills caused lots of problems for the Iowa defense. Iowa tried as hard as they could and they just couldn’t stop Hills’s quick feet and ability to find a gap and run up it. Iowa never really had it figured out, but for some reason Maryland decided to pass the ball, which turned out to be a huge mistake.
After a march downfield starting at their own 18, Maryland ran 6 plays from scrimmage before ending up at Iowa’s 12. Iowa’s defense was only able to force second down twice, and Maryland converted both times. I was pissed. I remember standing at my seat thinking “What changed in the second half that has kept Iowa from playing football?” It’s really the only time that I can remember this season when I questioned Iowa’s ability to play football, and I doubted our chances of staying undefeated, but King picked off the bullet pass that Hills threw and brought it to the house! There were a couple of times that I thought that he would be tackled, but he stayed upright for 88 yards. Kinnick Stadium exploded.
What followed on the next play, however, would bring fright to my Halloween night. After watching Will Likely make stellar returns and expecting him to run it into the end zone, it happened. I still remember a silence in Kinnick that is reminiscent of the game against Pitt when they scored a touchdown with less than a minute left to tie it up. It was a deafening silence. It left me and everyone else thinking “Did that really just happen?” Yes. It did. They just negated our 7 points by putting up 8 of their own. (Hills kept the ball on a slant to the outside to convert) Iowa would need to step up their game if they wanted to keep this lead and their undefeated season alive.
Iowa recovered the onside kick, punted to the 4 yard line, held Maryland’s offense, and kneeled the ball to keep the unbeaten streak alive and advance to 8-0; The point where their undefeated season halted in 2009. Iowa looked good at times tonight, but they need to step up their game if they want a chance to compete with the Big Ten East champion for a chance in the playoff.
What about my predictions for the game? I predicted that Myers and Daniels wouldn’t see the field, but Myers was a starter tonight, and Daniels ran the ball 13 times and picked up his first touchdown since August. That’s August of 2014 due to the fact that he was injured for most of last season and this season. Myers committed a holding and an offsides penalty to make his triumphant return to college football. While it didn’t cost us the game, it reinforced the fact that he hadn’t played for a while.
I thought that King would record two picks but he only got one. I can’t complain about this prediction going awry, though. Its hard to complain about a pick-six. I thought that Likely would get a pick, and thankfully he didn’t. I also expected him to have some big returns, and he definitely did. He averaged 36 yards on the 6 kickoffs that he returned. While this says more about Likely than Iowa’s kickoff squad, its certainly something that they could improve on.
I predicted the score to be 35-13. While I wasn’t exact, I’m proud that I was pretty darn close. Iowa still came out a victor, and Maryland never got within a score of Iowa after Iowa got up 14-0. It doesn’t look amazing, but its one more win that gives them a better reason to climb the rankings.