AMES, Ia. – For the 2nd year in a row, Iowa-Iowa State was viewed as the premier game in Week 2 of the college football season. That gave reason for ESPN’s College Gameday to make trips to Ames for both occasions, and allowed the pageantry of the show to follow. The guest picker? The most famous Iowan alive in Ashton Kutcher, who showed up in a black-and-gold combine to support his Hawkeyes. Lee Corso’s headgear selection? Ol’ Herky himself. Some experts liked Iowa, most liked Iowa State. Everyone viewed it as an opportunity for Iowa State to showcase their program under Matt Campbell.
Well…everyone but Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa Hawkeyes.
As underdogs in the series for the 1st time since 2000, Iowa went in and erased any doubt as to who the better of the two programs still is as #10 Iowa took down #9 Iowa State in a 27-17 game, that showcased Iowa’s dominating defense and superb special teams. My father always told me when I was playing sports “Everyone always has a plan…until they get punched in the mouth.” Iowa punched Iowa State in the mouth on Saturday, and Iowa State failed to respond.
Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell took the blame for his team’s lackluster performance on Saturday.
“Somewhere along the line, I failed this team in preparing them for the moment. I think our lack of execution falls squarely on my shoulders,” Campbell said. “It’s not our seniors issue, it’s not our football teams issue, it’s a Matt Campbell issue, and we’ll do a great job of getting it corrected.”
It wasn’t an instant punch in the mouth from Iowa, however. Much like a prized-heavyweight fight, Iowa and Iowa State had to feel each other out for a little bit. The two teams traded punts early and often, as Iowa’s Tory Taylor and Iowa State’s Corey Dunn battled to see who would give better field position. Towards the end of the 1st quarter, Iowa State finally put a drive together that marched it down to the Iowa 11-yard line with a 1st and 10. Phil Parker’s defense followed their typical “bend don’t break” mantra and allowed Iowa State’s offense to go no further and held them to a Connor Assalley field goal.
Iowa would be forced to punt on the ensuing drive, but backed up at their own 10, Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy dialed up a long ball, but found Iowa cornerback Matt Hankins instead. Hankins hauled in the first of two interceptions on the day for the 5th-year senior, and after the game shared his thoughts with ESPN’s Holly Rowe on leaving Iowa undefeated in the CyHawk series.
“It’s wonderful, I thought it was on our shoulders to keep it here, especially for the senior who haven’t lost it here. But now it’s on to the next one,” Hankins said.
Following Hankins interception, Iowa’s offense marched down the field on the Iowa State defense. Spencer Petras, who was only 1-for-5 for 5 yards in the 1st quarter, began to settle in and look confident against the dynamic Cyclone defense. With passes to Jackson Ritter, Luke Lachey and Tyler Goodson, it set Iowa up with a 1st and goal at the Iowa State 9. Two plays later, Tyler Goodson barreled in from 4 yards out to give Iowa a 7-3 lead.
The Cyclones ensuing possession saw Iowa State’s passing game attempt to regain rhythm, as Brock Purdy found Charlie Kolar for the first time all season to pickup a big 3rd and long. When the Cyclones got in 3rd and long again, Purdy targeted Kolar, and it fell incomplete when Iowa linebacker Jestin Jacobs broke it up.
Jacobs, who was playing in his 2nd career start, showed his potential with his playmaking at his LEO spot, talked about his performance and made a strong statement.
“There’s always room for improvement, we’ve always been talking about the standard and each week we’re trying to raise the standard, keep the standard and just push everyone on the field,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs pass breakup lead to a poor Corey Dunn punt, and allowed Iowa to run some 4-minute offense as they pushed deep inside Iowa State territory with just over a minute to go in the 1st half. Spencer Petras stepped up and fired his best pass as an Iowa Hawkeye, that resulted in a 26-yard touchdown to Charlie Jones and put Iowa up 14-3.
Jack Trice Stadium was in stunned silence.
It wouldn’t last too long, as the Cyclones finally hit a big play with a Brock Purdy pass to Darren Wilson that set up Iowa State with a 1st and goal. The drive was capped off on the next play with a 4-yard touchdown run from Breece Hall to send the game to a 14-10 mark headed into halftime.
The 2nd half began similar to the 1st half, with both teams trading punts. Tory Taylor continued to shine in what may have been his best performance in an Iowa uniform, punting 8 times and averaging 51 yards a punt, with 5 downed inside the 20.
Iowa’s defense would step up to make a big play as it did in the first half, except this time it lead directly to 7 points as Jestin Jacobs stripped Breece Hall and Jack Campbell was in the right place at the right time for the scoop and score. 21-10 Iowa, and disbelief from the Cyclone faithful.
The Cyclone offense came back out with the intentions of standing right back up, but instead, Iowa continued delivering uppercuts as Brock Purdy’s pass bounced off of Xavier Hutchinson, and right into the hands of Seth Benson. The Hawkeyes would tack on a Caleb Shudak field goal to set the score at 24-10.
Once again Iowa State’s offense got back up off the mat after being knocked down…but Iowa delivered a crushing uppercut again. Iowa State’s offense pushed the ball into Iowa territory, when Joe Evans got his finger tips on a Brock Purdy pass, which lead to Matt Hankins second interception of the day. Caleb Shudak would add another field goal to give Iowa a 27-10 lead.
On the next drive, Brock Purdy was out, Hunter Dekkers was in. Phil Parker’s defense had knocked out the Cyclones. The West Sioux-product was able to lead an Iowa State touchdown drive, but it was too little, too late. Iowa did a Michael Jordan, and are now 6-of-6 against Iowa State since 2015.
Maybe all that was missing for Iowa fans was Spencer Petras or Tyler Goodson holding up 6 fingers like Michael Jordan did after beating the Utah Jazz.
Kirk Ferentz was very matter of fact postgame about how his team looks and feels so connected early on in the season.
“It’s always interesting. I don’t know football wise how good we were coming out of spring, but going back to January, these guys have really worked well with each other, and they act in a way that demonstrates they care about each other. We’ve got good guys at the top and they’ve really worked hard at it and worked conscientiously at it, and I think these guys genuinely do care about each other.”