Despite its valiant defensive effort, Iowa fell to No. 24 Wisconsin 28-9


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Early on in Iowa’s 28-9 loss to Wisconsin, it seemed as if the Hawkeye offense was starting every drive with advantageous field position.

Because of the Black and Gold’s stout defense and wind conditions that limited Wisconsin’s punting game, Iowa started four first-quarter drives at or beyond of its own 39-yard line.

Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, those drives resulted in three punts and one Mike Meyer field goal. Arguably, Iowa squandered its opportunity to defeat the favored Badgers before the second quarter even began.

“We had the wind behind us and ended up with 3 points,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “And I think the first half came down to us being in the red zone twice, not being able to come out with the touchdown, and had a couple of self-inflicted wounds on both possessions.

“We had that opportunity to be down there and come away with touchdowns. To come up short, it was a big factor in the game.”

Ferentz couldn’t exactly pinpoint the issues of the offense immediately after the game. But he did suggest that quarterback Jake Rudock’s weapons in the passing game could have done a better job of getting open to create playmaking opportunities.

“I’m not sure we helped him [Rudock] enough,” Ferentz said. “It’s better if we can get the running game going, certainly. And our protection could have been better, too. Offense is such a team thing, typically.

“… But I’m kind of fixated on the two times we’re down there in the first half. We weren’t detailed enough to get it done. But they made it tough on us; they’re a good defensive football team.”

It seemed to be deflating for Iowa’s defense, watching the offense waste golden opportunities after it had done nearly everything in its power to keep the team in the game.

“It’s frustrating, but we can’t really depend on them as much as we want to,” cornerback B.J. Lowery said. “They’re out there fighting just like we are, so we can’t put too much pressure on them, just like they can’t put too much pressure on us. We have to balance each other out.”

The loss was Iowa’s third in its last four games. But the team should take some solace in the fact that for most of the game, it did limit one of the country’s most potent rushing attacks.

Wisconsin managed just 62 rushing yards in the first half. The Badgers averaged 287 yards on the ground through 8 games this season.

Up next for Iowa is a trip to West Lafayette, Ind. for a matchup against Purdue (1-7, 0-4 Big Ten), a team that has struggled all season to have any type of success.

As far as the potential of the 2013 Hawkeye squad, players still believe a few more wins are still possible. But with just three games remaining, realities concerning the ceiling of the team are beginning to settle in, despite what players may think.

“I think we’re still building,” senior safety Tanner Miller said. “We have a lot of room to improve. With this team, we’re doing things right, we’re thinking the right way. We have to get over hump and keep going up the mountain.”

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