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Point/Counterpoint: Will Iowa win its four remaining regular season games?

BY DI STAFF | NOVEMBER 02, 2010 7:15 AM

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NO

Iowa is one of the most confusing teams in the nation.

Last weekend, the Hawkeye defense opened up can after can of whup-ass on Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins. Iowa intercepted Cousins three times and held the No. 5 team in the country to a season-low 6 points.

The same defense was unbelievably porous in the two weeks leading up to the Michigan State game, though. The Black and Gold gave up a total of 59 points, 53 first downs, and 869 yards to Michigan and Wisconsin.

Contrary to popular belief, the Badger game wasn’t lost by bad clock management or Michael Meyer’s 97th missed extra-point attempt of the year. It was lost because the Hawkeyes gave up 21 points in the second half.

In short, Iowa seems to be suffering from a severe case of multiple-personality disorder. Nobody knows which Hawkeye team will show up any given Saturday — and that’s why the Black and Gold won’t win out.

In order for the Hawkeyes to go 4-0 the rest of the way, they would have to play flawless football every week in one of the most competitive leagues in the country. No team is undefeated in Big Ten play, and everyone in the conference can beat everyone else (except Minnesota — the Gophers couldn’t beat Northeastern Illinois Community College).

The problem is, Iowa has yet to play a game that even comes close to the level required to win four games.

Sometimes the defense is terrible, and sometimes it remembers it’s supposed to be the best in the country. The offensive line has been fantastic in one game and abysmal in the next.

The only consistency the Hawkeyes have shown this year has been on special teams.

Unfortunately, that’s been consistently awful.

This unpredictability simply doesn’t add up to a month of undefeated football, and the Hawkeyes will lose at least one more game this year. The only question is when the loss will happen — my money’s on next weekend against Northwestern.

— by Seth Roberts

YES

After watching the Hawkeyes dominate Michigan State, it’s hard to bet against them winning out in Big Ten play.

As history shows, Iowa is a team that gets better and better as the year progresses.

In 2009, the Hawkeyes were inconsistent and struggled to complete wins against teams they should have beaten easily. But by the time January came, they looked to be unstoppable in a 24-14 win over Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl.

The 2008 campaign looked all but lost after the Hawkeyes lost to the Spartans, 16-13, for their third loss in the season. But Kirk Ferentz rallied the troops and managed to go 6-1 in the last seven games, which included a big victory over then-No. 3 Penn State. Iowa capped the season with a 31-10 dismantling of South Carolina in the Outback Bowl.

The 2010 season looks like it will follow the same trend. And the turning point was the heartbreaking one-point loss to Wisconsin in Kinnick Stadium.

You want motivation? Watch Adrian Clayborn’s postgame interview after the loss to the Badgers. He sobbed for his team. Clayborn took full responsibility for the loss.

Now that’s leadership.

Against Michigan State, the Hawkeye defense came out and finally played to its potential. A normally efficient Kirk Cousins threw three picks, and a potent Spartan running attack was silenced with only 31 total yards.

The road won’t be easy with a visit to Northwestern and a home game against Ohio State still on the schedule. But if Iowa’s defense can stay hungry and motivated, it will destroy any offense that stands in the way. Add to that a mistake-free gunslinger in Ricky Stanzi and a reliable running attack led by Adam Robinson, and the Hawkeyes may smell the roses yet.

— by Jon Frank


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