At the start of each week, Land of 10 will break down the postseason implications, and projections, to come out of the Iowa Hawkeyes’ latest contest …
What happened: The Hawkeyes (3-2, 0-2 Big Ten) alternated between shooting themselves in either foot and stepping on garden rakes, Sideshow Bob style, in a 17-10 defeat at Michigan State, the program’s second straight heartbreaking league loss in as many weeks. When you combine turnovers (two fumbles lost); an almost unbelievable whiff by the run game (19 net yards on 25 carries); penalties (7 for 47 yards); and struggles in the punting game that saw the Spartans starting their first-half drives, on average, at the Iowa 47, it added up Saturday to one of the most un-Ferentz afternoons of the Kirk Ferentz era.
What it means: Any margin for error as far as winning the Big Ten West is probably all but gone now, and it almost certainly necessitates beating Wisconsin (4-0, 1-0) in Madison on Nov. 11. All phases dropped the ball — literally, in the case of quarterback Nate Stanley — at Spartans Stadium in a game that looked, on paper, like an opportunity to right the ship again after a kidney-punch of a home loss to No. 4 Penn State. Instead, the Hawkeyes turn the page to October with questions about Stanley in crunch time; questions about star playmaker Akrum Wadley (47 yards rushing and receiving); questions about the offensive line; and questions about first-year offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz.
Projected record: Massey Ratings — 7-5; TeamRankings.com — 7-5
Projected postseason destination: Holiday Bowl, Dec. 30, San Diego, versus a Pac-12 opponent
Cheapest seat at TicketCity.com as of Sunday: $52.
Up next: vs. Illinois on Saturday. And now for the good news: Lovie Smith’s coming to town! If there’s anyone in the West who looks like a solid bet to lift your spirits again, it’s probably Lovie’s Illini (2-2, 0-1), who were dominated by a heretofore inconsistent Nebraska side last Friday during a 28-6 setback in Champaign. Illinois was held to just 199 total yards of offense, with the Cornhuskers basically daring quarterback Chayce Crouch to beat them with his arm. He couldn’t. If the Hawkeyes need a pick-me-up, they couldn’t have asked for a better dance partner right about now.
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