Was it smart for Iowa to kick a field goal on fourth and 1 in overtime?

BY DI STAFF | SEPTEMBER 13, 2011 7:20 AM

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Iowa’s triple-overtime loss to Iowa State wasn’t a fault of poor strategy in the game’s final moments. Instead, the defeat was a result of simply being outplayed.

The Hawkeyes’ decision to kick a field goal at fourth and 1 was an intelligent move by head coach Kirk Ferentz and his staff.

Iowa had no issue with trusting sophomore kicker Mike Meyer to make the 34-yard field goal. After all, Meyer hasn’t botched a field goal yet this season and had already made three successfully in the game — from 42 yards away in the second quarter, and from 20 and 50 yards in the third. Kicking was working for Iowa, and kicking in the triple-overtime situation guaranteed Iowa 3 points.

At fourth and 1, another touchdown was not a given for the Hawkeyes. Iowa’s passing game was tired, and the Hawkeyes struggled to hold onto the ball. In the final possession, Iowa completed only one pass in three attempts (a 4-yard dump to Kevonte Martin-Manley).

The Hawkeyes were out of rhythm with their passing but in the groove with their kicking. Hence, the field goal.

Iowa State’s two senior kickers had each failed a field-goal attempt in the game — Grant Mahoney missed a 42-yarder, and Zach Guyer missed from 38-yards away in the fourth quarter. The pressure of Iowa’s 3-point end-all lead could have broken down the Cyclone offense and stopped them from finding the end zone. If the Cyclones couldn’t put something together, Iowa would win.

Going for an almost guaranteed 3 points instead of gambling on earning the right to a possible 6 points was a smart decision by Iowa, and gave the Cyclones only one option to take the game: score a touchdown.

Putting the “score at least 3 points or you lose” pressure on the Cyclones was smarter than leaving them with no looming threat and plenty of stress-free opportunities to find the end zone or the goalposts and win.

— by Molly Irene Olmstead


With fourth and 1 in the third overtime against Iowa State, the Hawkeye offense should have attempted to pick up the first down instead of settling for a field goal.

Iowa had all the tools to pick up the needed yard, and it could have extended its final possession.
The Hawkeyes boast a big, bruising running back in Marcus Coker. The Black and Gold offensive line had won the battle in the trenches most of the game, and gaining 1 yard should not have been too difficult. Of Coker’s 35 carries, nearly all gained some sort of positive yardage — and a 36th carry likely would have as well.

Additionally, Iowa has shown an ability to convert on fourth-and-short. In 2010, the Hawkeyes converted every single one of their fourth and 1 attempts (2-for-2).

The Iowa defense had not been able to stop the Cyclones in the first two overtime periods, and there really wasn’t much reason to believe it could stop them in the third. Instead of taking the 3 points and relying on the defense, Kirk Ferentz should have put his faith in his offense to gain 1 yard and extend the drive. With a touchdown, the Hawkeyes would have forced the Cyclones to score a touchdown of their own and, because it was the third extra period, go for a 2-point conversion.

By kicking a field goal, Iowa allowed Iowa State the luxury of knowing if its offense stalled, the Cardinal and Gold could still tie the game.

Would the Hawkeyes have been guaranteed a victory with a fourth and 1 conversion? No. But it would have given the team a better shot at coming out of Ames with a win.

— by Ryan Murphy

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