1) Iowa won a Big Ten game on the road that it should've won. I think most everyone has the proper perspective here, but given the last three Novembers (now 3-7), it's OK to enjoy it
2) A word on bowls: I don't know. OK, that's more than one word, but, really, a lot of the Legos need to snap into place. A big one is whether or not the Big Ten gets two teams into the BCS. It's a definite-maybe and it's probably the biggest factor for Iowa. Iowa also could win its final two games. Could, could, could. Don't know. The safest statement is Florida or Texas.
3) Last week, the question was asked here if Iowa had turned a page at running back? One thing I think we've all learned is there are no definitives when it comes to Iowa RB. This isn't a Shonn Greene/Marcus Coker, one go-to back type of deal. It's a running back by committee and the RB who chairs the meeting is totally up for grabs carries into the game. I asked QB Jake Rudock if that's how it really is. "All of these guys have shown they can run the ball, either in practice or in games," he said. "I guess some people might say 'Playing the hot hand,' if you want to use that phrase. I think sometimes you're in there at the right time. You get a good call. Sometimes, guys get gassed. They're running as hard as they can. Some guys are feeling it that day, so you keep feeding it to them."
It seems haphazard. "Whatever can get us a win at the end of the day, I'm all for," Rudock said.
4) Nebraska's best win is at Michigan. Michigan's best win is a home victory over Minnesota. Iowa's best win is at Minnesota. So yes, Iowa is in it the next two games. Michigan travels to Northwestern this week. Nebraska plays host to Michigan State (the bullies of the Big Ten this year) and then travel to Penn State. Nebraska has realistic Legends Division title hopes (it has to play better and it knows that). Michigan and Iowa have lost to Michigan State, so MSU holds the tiebreaker and they are eliminated. That's the formality of it. It's not a championship round robin, but it does hold intrigue.
5) Let's check in on USA Today college football columnist Dan Wolken's Misery Index. I see you, Michigan, at No. 2 ("We have reached the point in the Brady Hoke era where it is reasonable to ask if he's the guy to get this thing fixed"). Maryland is joining the Big Ten next year, so No. 3 is on board in '14 ("There just isn't a whole lot to be excited about right now"). Oh, Iowa State, No. 4 ("If you've chosen to be an Iowa State fan, you know that misery is going to be part of the deal"). Illinois is back on Iowa's schedule in 2014 and is No. 8 ("There's not a lot of good news here"). Purdue, Penn State and Bret Bielema's Arkansas received votes.
1) Iowa RB Jordan Canzeri – Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz embeds with QBs. Or at least he has the last several years. There was the 2008 back-and-forth with Jake Christensen and Ricky Stanzi. There was some switcheroo with Kyle McCann and Brad Banks in '01. Before that, Iowa was unsafe at any speed for any QB, so there was uncertainty. Stanzi got two and a half years. James Vandenberg got two years. And now it's Jake Rudock. Running back hasn't been the same. Health has dictated this for the most part. Apparently, Ferentz has seen what he needs to see to make the same leap he made with Brandon Wegher in 2009 with Jordan Canzeri this year. This isn't a comparison (although, maybe?). But remember when Wegher, as a true freshman at Iowa State, made a one-handed stab on a screen pass and gained 101 yards and scored a TD, Ferentz admitted after the game putting a true freshman in the game made him nervous.
"I don’t mind telling you that I’m a little bit nervous about putting a true freshman out there at running back when a turnover just would have killed us," Ferentz said after Iowa's 35-3 victory in Ames in '09. "We made the decision early in the week of practice to give him a push and get him out there. Sometimes, I need to get over some things. We made the decision early in the week to play him regardless. The plan was to go third series with him and then just let both guys keep playing.”
No, Canzeri isn't a true freshman. He's a third-year sophomore. He has fumbled twice this season, including Saturday. Was that what held Ferentz back here? Maybe. Either way, Canzeri carried the ball a play after he fumbled. He carried 20 times for 165 yards and a TD on Saturday. Maybe Ferentz is over whatever it was he needed to be over?
2) Iowa WR Don Shumpert — We've counted his drops here. Now, let's give credit where credit is due. Saturday was the senior from St. Louis' best day as a Hawkeye. He caught two passes for 69 yards and made nice, acrobatic catches at that, especially given the crazy wind that whipped Ross-Ade Stadium. He also had Canzeri's back on a fumble recovery in the third quarter, a drive that ended in a TD and a 21-7 Iowa lead. Shumpert has had four catches for 104 yards the last two games after coming off a foot injury. I'm not sure if Shumpert was hurt in '12, but after a crucial drop on a fourth down in Iowa's 9-6 loss to ISU, Shumpert went the rest of the season (1o games) without a catch. Shumpert has great speed. The light appears to be on and shining brightly, so he could have an interesting final three games as a Hawkeye.
3) DEs Mike Hardy and Drew Ott — Iowa defensive ends have spent pretty much the entire Big Ten season in the crosshairs. Without Dominic Alvis pretty much since the Big Ten opener on Sept. 28, sophomore Drew Ott and junior Mike Hardy have gone to work against some of the league's most powerful offenses (Ohio State and Wisconsin are Nos. 1 and 3, respectively) and have had their teaching moments and triumphs. Purdue will go down as a triumph. The two combined for 11 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. Michigan and Nebraska will take their runs, so the duo will have to continue their improvement.
1) Third-down defense — DC Phil Parker blitzed some Saturday, not as much as he has at points this season. Iowa wanted to contain freshman QB Danny Etling and it did, for the most part. The Hawkeyes held Purdue's first-team offense to just one TD, which was set up by a muffed punt and a short field (Iowa's 35), but converted 8 of 17 on first down, including nine through the air. Iowa continues to look for a spark in the pass rush, a consistent one at least. Getting off the field will be important in a strong finish to the season.
2) Penalties — Aside from one (pretty important) red zone possession, the Hawkeyes had put a cap on penalty problems that hampered them in a couple games early. Against Purdue, Iowa totaled six penalties. That's too big of a number if it wants to topple Michigan and Nebraska.
3) The knee thing at the end — QB C.J. Beathard was supposed to run a QB sneak on a third-and-1 from Purdue's 5 with a little more than three minutes left in the game. Instead, he spun and ran a naked bootleg for a 5-yard TD. Ferentz wanted a sneak. He even said something about it to Purdue coach Darrell Hazell after the game. It put up Iowa 38-7. If we were playing NCAA 14, we might've lost some sportsmanship points. In a league that saw Ohio State beat Penn State 63-14, this is a minor, minor deal.
1) 35 yards to Shumpert — Iowa had just run an outside zone for Canzeri, who took the ball 18 yards to the Purdue 49. On the next play, Iowa's O-line showed the same action, but this time, Rudock ran a play-action fake. Shumpert ran inside like he seemed to be beamed toward a block, and then cut up the seam wide open, beating Purdue's cover 2. Well designed, perfectly executed. The only glitch is that, yeah, it probably should've been a TD. Remember, it was a 10 mph wind from the WSW and Iowa drove into the teeth of it at this time. The wind was more than 10 mph at this point. Rudock threw a little behind, but Shumpert adjusted and completed the 35-yard gain. The drive ended with a 3-yard TD pass to TE Jake Duzey. You could argue that Shumpert was so wide open that Rudock just didn't want to screw it up. Either way, it worked. Shumpert is a quiet guy and it's hard to tell what makes him tick, but making plays makes everyone race. So, maybe a hot player in November?
2) TD to Martin-Manley, 1:57 left in the 2Q — The crazy wind bit Rudock with about two minutes left in the first half. After a delay of game penalty pushed Iowa to a first-and-15 at Purdue's 30, Rudock had wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley wide open for a TD. Iowa was going into the wind this time, so the ball sailed a bit on him and it went down as an overthrow and missed opportunity. Remember the big brace Rudock wore on his sprained left knee yesterday? It didn't stop him on second down. He took a called run 8 yards to the Purdue 22. Interesting, gutsy and smart play call on OC Greg Davis' part. It also spoke to the health of Rudock's knee. He seemed OK. Also, RB Damon Bullock had a sweet pancake block on a linebacker. So, on third-and-7, Iowa ran 11 personnel with TE Fiedorowicz split out. It was hard to tell from TV angle, but it looked as thought corner Ricardo Allen had Martin-Manley in man with help from a safety, but, no, it was Allen underneath and corner Antoine Lewis trying to help. The throw beat the coverage. Rudock noted great protection so he was able to step into the throw. It was almost as though Allen was trying to bait the throw.
"I was actually happy that the ball was in the air, in the first place," Martin-Manley said. "Usually, that's a play we wouldn't throw, but I was just glad that the ball was in the air and I was able to go get it." He's right.
– I'm going to finish "End Zone" by Don DeLillo. Remember, football is a benign allusion.
– I'm going to catch up on "Walking Dead." Scott Dochterman spoiled last week's for me, but that's OK, he didn't know.
– I'm going to the Strong Ale Festival in Kansas City. You should come. We'll hang out.
– I might try to fish early in the week. Anyone have any suggestions? Write about recruiting? That doesn't sound like it has any fish in it.
– I'm going to start reading Richard Ford's "Canada." He's probably my favorite author. Either that one or the Evel Kneivel bio I've had on the shelf.
Iowa — 4 of 5 (NIU: 2-for-3; MSU: 4 of 6; ISU 2 of 5; WMU 2 of 5; Minn 1 of 4; Mich St 1 of 2; OSU 2 of 3; NU 2 of 3; WI 0 of 4)
P — 1 of 1 (NIU: 0-for-2; MSU: 0-for-1; ISU 1 of 1; WMU 0 of 2; Minn 0 of 0; Mich St 0 of 3; OSU 3 of 5; NU 1 of 2; WI 3 of 3)
Worst effort of the season last week. The Hawkeyes were 0 of 4. Best effort since FCS Missouri State this week. Defensively, it didn't matter as much as doing it on offense. The next two games? It will matter.
Iowa 1 — Purdue put some drives together, but had no drives with double digit plays and had seven that lasted six or fewer that didn't score. (NIU 6, MSU 6, ISU 5, WMU 9, Minn 3; Mich St 4; OSU 0; NU 2; WI 5)
P 3 — Martin-Manley's fumbled punt counted as one. (NIU: 3, MSU: 3, ISU 4, WMU 3, Minn 1; Mich St 9; OSU 0; NU 1; WI 8 )
Iowa — 259-7.2 (36 plays) (NIU: 156-4.7, 33 plays; MSU: 285-6.47, 44 plays; ISU: 192-4.92, 39 plays; WMU 287-6.37, 45 plays, Minn 235-6.02, 39 plays; Mich St 104-2.97, 35 plays; OSU 153-8.5, 18 plays; NU 150-4.8, 31 plays; WI 163-4.3, 38 plays)
P — 127-3.9 (32 plays) (NIU: 234-4.77, 49 plays; MSU: 130-5.2, 25 plays; ISU: 258-7.58, 34 plays; WMU: 89-4.68, 19 plays; Minn: 85-3.54, 19 plays; 210-4.8, 39 plays; OSU 306-5.77, 53 plays; NU 208-5.47, 38 plays; WI 216-6.4 (34 plays)
Much better this week. This is a question that Ferentz bristled at last week. He sees the second half as a natural extension of the first, at least that's what I think. It sounds as though there's compartmentalization and each half is unto itself. I get that. It makes sense. And the solution is play better in the second half. Ferentz said no "Kool-Aid" pills, but the first half of that quote from post Purdue was more telling. There are no second-half drills. No, there aren't. Play better, put players in place to succeed.
Iowa 4 — Iowa's passing game moved like it did under Ken O'Keefe (when it was healthy, anyway). Lots of long completions. WR Tevaun Coleman had a 27-harder; Shumpert had 34 and 35 yarders; and Martin-Manley had the 22-yard score. Even with the iffy wind, Rudock had his highest yards per attempt in his career (9.6, the 22nd best number in the country this week). Big chunky plays are good. They help make an offense work. (NIU: 3, MSU: 4; ISU 3; WMU 4; Minn 4; Mich St 2; OSU 3; NU 2; WI 3)
P 3 — Etling is going to eventually be a tough out. He showed nice patience on a 26-yard screen pass to Akeem Hunt that set up Purdue's first TD. I like Purdue's pro style offense. I also like the recruiting motto that's starting to waft through college football: The NFL doesn't draft spread O-linemen (old man football rules, fellas). (NIU: 5. MSU: 4; ISU 4; WMU 1; Minn 2; Mich St 5; OSU 2; NU 2; WI 3)
Iowa 7 — What a boost Rudock's 22-yard TD to Martin-Manley was for the Hawkeyes, who, if this doesn't hit, probably trots into the locker room tied 7-7 at Purdue, and for Rudock. It was an arm-strength throw and what QB doesn't get a charge out of that. I know we see absolutely no evidence of it, but I'm sure somewhere in there Rudock has something of an ego. He had to enjoy this one. (And, no, I'm not saying he's a hot dog, I'm saying he's a college football quarterback who probably enjoys beating a defensive back with his arm.) (vs NIU: 7, vs MSU: 0; vs ISU 6; vs. WMU 14; vs. Minn 0; Mich St 7; OSU 0; NU 0; WI 0)
P 7 — Austin Appleby hit Danny Anthrop for a 44-yard TD with 51 seconds left. I didn't see it. I was on the elevator and on my way down for interviews. Was it cool? (NIU: 3, vs MSU: 0; ISU 0, vs. WMU 0; Minn 0; Mich St 0; OSU 0; NU 0; WI 14 )
13 — Bonanza. Season-high and crushed the Davis standard of nine explosive plays a game. We're leaving two Canzeri 11-yard rushes on the table. Five of these were Canzeri rushes. Three Damon Bullock rushes. And Rudock completed five passes of 16 or more. Again, it was the youngest team in the Big Ten, a project under development, so apply proper perspective, but also enjoy what could've been an arrival for Canzeri. (vs NIU: 5; vs MSU: 6; vs ISU 7; vs WMU 10; Minn 8; Mich St 2; OSU 4; NU 5; WI 7)