PLAY OF THE GAME
• TIME: 0:41, third quarter
• SCORE: Iowa 20, Iowa State 7
• DOWN AND DISTANCE: Iowa on offense, 3rd and 8 from the Iowa State 26.
• FORMATION AND PERSONNEL: Iowa – one tight end, one running back, three receivers with two to the left, Jake Rudock under center. Iowa State – base defense, blitzing all three linebackers
• WHAT HAPPENED: Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock threw to Jacob Hillyer on a curl route, and Hillyer made Iowa State cornerback Jansen Watson miss the attempted tackle, sprinting to the score.
• WHY IT WAS IMPORTANT:The Hawkeyes’ drive answered the Cyclones, who had completed a 67-yard touchdown pass from Sam Richardson to Quenton Bundrage, bringing Iowa State to within six points at 13-7 just before. Hillyer’s touchdown put the Hawkeyes back up 13. Without that drive, the game takes a whole different complexion.
• THE QUOTE 1: “It was a great response (to Iowa State’s touchdown),” said Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz. “We had been playing really good defense throughout, gave up that play, and it was a great play on their part, certainly. For the offense to answer like that, that’s part of the growth process. We’ve still got a lot of growing to do, obviously – we’ve still got to learn how to close things down – but that’s part of the growth and I’m happy the guys did that.
“Every play is big in a game like this. For a while (that play) didn’t look like it, but the way it turned out (it did). You get in that series and you’ve got to figure every play is going to be important, and I don’t want to say critical, but awfully important.”
• THE QUOTE 2: “You always want to give a response. You never want to leave something out there,” said Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock. “You never want to wait, because you (let) teams back in it. It just came at a really good time. We talked about it on the sideline, ‘Hey, we need to respond, we need to toughen up here. This is what matters.’
“They brought a blitz from the weak side and they had a good cushion so I had free access. And they gave me a shot, (but) I stood in there. The offensive line did a great job giving me just enough time to get it out. He apparently made a heck of a play. I was on the floor, so (I didn’t see it).”
• THE QUOTE 3: “I knew it was third down, it was a big down, we had to get the first down,” said Iowa receiver Jacob Hillyer. “It was a big part of the game. Us as a team, we pulled together Plays were made when they needed to be made.”
• THE ANALYSIS: The play was basically the reverse of the ISU touchdown that preceded it, when Bundrage made B.J. Lowery miss on a similar curl route. Rudock’s throw was timed perfectly, allowing Hillyer to make the Jansen Watson, Iowa State’s best corner, miss and keep the momentum in the Hawkeyes’ favor. Especially considering what transpired in the fourth quarter, the answer on that drive proved to be critically important for the Hawkeyes to complete the victory.