By Jack Brandsgard (email@example.com) 09/10/17
The 65th edition of the Cy-Hawk football rivalry did not disappoint. In a back and forth affair, Iowa used a litany of weapons to ultimately down the Cyclones 44-41 in overtime.
Numerous feats were achieved for the first time in a long time in this game. Nine different Hawkeyes caught a pass, and for the second time in the Kirk Ferentz era, four different players hauled in a touchdown pass. Senior Matt VandeBerg became the first player under Ferentz to record a receiving touchdown in three different games against Iowa State. Nick Easley also made history in the Kirk Ferentz era, as he became the first player with a receiving touchdown in each of his first two career games. The man slinging the ball around didn’t go quietly either, as Nate Stanley became the first Hawkeye quarterback to throw for 300-plus yards and five or more touchdowns in a game since Chuck Hartlieb in 1987.
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the win was the number of players who contributed. Ihmir Smith-Marsette hauled in two touchdowns, TJ Hockenson had 41 yards receiving, Peter Pekar had a catch, and Drake Kulick rumbled for 26 yards on a check down pass. Even Brandon Smith saw some game time.
Even with all the role players stepping up, Akrum Wadley was still Iowa’s go-to guy. I don’t think there’s been a more elusive player in Hawkeye history. The way Wadley wiggles out of tight spaces is uncanny. He put his moves to use for 118 rushing yards and a touchdown, and led Iowa with 72 receiving yards while also scoring the game-tying touchdown after a remarkable catch and run. In doing so, Wadley became the first Big Ten player to record 100+ rush yards, at least one rush TD, 70-plus receiving yards, and a receiving touchdown in a road game since 1997.
Hawkeye fans everywhere should take a moment of their time to thank Weequahic High School for producing Akrum Wadley and Ihmir Smith-Marsette. In the most important moments of the game, Iowa put the ball in the New Jersey products’ hands. With time ticking away and facing a 38-31 deficit, Stanley checked down to Wadley near midfield, and what ensued was magical. Wadley outpaced Joel Lanning, then evaded two more Cyclone defenders before ramming his way into the endzone for the game-tying score. You could probably count on one hand the amount of Hawkeye players in history who could’ve made that play.
Wadley’s efforts took the game to overtime, where, with all the chips on the table, Brian Ferentz called Smith-Marsette’s number. It was a simple out route, but the freshman’s foot speed gave him enough separation to haul in Stanley’s pass and seal the game.
There were a ton of positives and there’s no such thing as a bad win, but Iowa dodged an entire clip of bullets throughout the game. Whether it was Michael Ojemudia getting blocked into a punt, Alaric Jackson pouncing on a Wadley fumble, freshman Ivory Kelly-Martin showing his age by catching a kickoff out of bounds before the play was ruled an illegal kickoff, Matt VandeBerg getting away with offensive pass interference on the final drive in regulation, Manny Rugamba’s pass interference on Iowa State’s final drive being offset by a Cyclone holding call, or when an open Hakeem Butler dropped a sure first down in overtime, luck was on Iowa’s side in Ames.
As good as Stanley was, his line could’ve been better if he hadn’t missed a handful of deep throws. His arm is as strong as any, but Stanley needs to learn to reel it in a little bit. He overshot Noah Fant a few times, and missed Smith-Marsette after a double move froze the defender.
The mistakes were concerning, but they don’t change the fact that Iowa went into Ames against a much-improved Iowa State team and emerged victorious.
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