Commentary: Meet the new loss, same as the old loss


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BLOOMINGTON, IND. — Kirk Ferentz on Nov. 3: “Needless to say, disappointed to get the loss. Credit Indiana. I thought our guys played hard, just clearly didn’t play well enough to win. And they did, so they ended up being the victors.”

Kirk Ferentz on Sept. 22: “Central [Michigan] deserved the win. They played the full 60 and made the plays you have to make to come out victorious. Give them credit.”

James Vandenberg on his interception on Nov. 3: “That’s a throw that can’t be made. The guy played it really well, but that ball’s got to go out the back of the end zone. We’ve got to be able to take three there, and that’s on me.”

James Vandenberg on his game-ending interception against Iowa State on Sept. 8: “That’s just a ball that can’t be thrown. A guy made a great play on it, but in field goal range, there’s no excuse for it. That ball’s got to go out of bounds.”

This is getting repetitive.

The Iowa football team lost to Indiana on Saturday in part because it repeatedly let the opposing quarterback escape the rush and make plays. This week it was Cameron Coffman finding open receivers downfield. Last week it was Northwestern’s Kain Colter taking off and running down the field, and the week before that it was Penn State’s Matt McGloin.  

Iowa has allowed 1,410 yards of offense in its current three-game losing streak.

The Hawkeyes could not move the ball against the Hoosiers, scoring just 14 offensive points. For the ninth time in nine games this season, James Vandenberg looked jittery and inaccurate. The team’s offense once again made a third-and-10 feel like crossing an ocean.

All these losses, especially the last three, are blurring together. The problems plaguing the Hawkeyes are almost exactly what they were after an uninspiring performance in Soldier Field to start the year.

Vandenberg, who is 15th in the Big Ten with four touchdown passes, acknowledged as much.

“You guys get sick of hearing this every week, but it really is execution,” Iowa’s quarterback said. “We had a good plan, we felt comfortable with what we were seeing. We just didn’t execute consistently.”

The Hawkeyes aren’t just a few plays away. The hard truth is that this year’s Iowa team is basically on the level of Indiana, a program that went 1-11 last season. Iowa is below .500 for the first time in five years, and has shown no signs of fixing the problems that got it here.

The Hawkeyes need to beat Purdue and then either Michigan or Nebraska to reach a bowl game. It doesn’t seem likely. The Hawkeyes, for the first time since 2007, might not reach the postseason.

But credit the teams who do. They will have played well enough to make it.

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