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Box score: Inside Iowa football statistics

BY JACOB SHEYKO | NOVEMBER 11, 2014 5:00 AM

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All aboard the roller coaster that is Iowa football. Each week is a new adventure.

Last week was another dip in this up-and-down season for the Hawkeyes, who seemingly find a way to field a different team each week. One week after its 48-7 thumping of Northwestern, Iowa came out flat and was defeated by Minnesota, 51-14.

With three games left, Iowa still has time to change the outlook of this season, for better or worse. Next up: at Illinois, which returns quarterback Wes Lunt, then Wisconsin the following week, and then Nebraska to finish the season.

Let’s take a look at the numbers that brought Iowa to its 6-3 record.

Wins against Bowl Subdivision teams with a winning record — 0

Technically, Iowa does have a win against a team with a winning record. But that team was Northern Iowa, which is a 6-4 Championship Subdivision school.

The Hawkeyes have also defeated Pittsburgh, which at the time of playing Iowa was 3-0, but it has since fallen to 4-5.

Other than that, Iowa really hasn’t had tough competition. Yes, every Big Ten team is tough in its own right, but each of Iowa’s six wins are against teams with a combined record of 22-34.

Likewise, Iowa’s three Big Ten wins are Purdue, Indiana, and Northwestern, who have combined for a 3-14 conference record this season.

On one hand, Iowa has defeated every team it was expected to beat, excluding Iowa State. On the other, the Hawkeyes are entering the toughest portion of their schedule with no proof that they can defeat the teams they’re about to play.

Fumbles lost — 9 (T-13th in the Big Ten)

It’s cliché, but usually the team that takes care of the ball wins the game. That includes fumbles — something that Iowa has done a lot this season.

In all, Iowa has fumbled the ball 13 times, which isn’t atrocious. All but two teams in the Big Ten have fumbled more than 10 times this season. But unlike those other teams, Iowa has lost a majority of its fumbles — 69.2 percent, to be exact, last in the Big Ten.

The Hawkeyes’ nine lost fumbles is the most an Iowa team has had since 2011, when the team lost 10 fumbles all season.

It’s not a coincidence that in Iowa’s three losses this season, the Hawkeyes have fumbled the ball six times and lost five.

Some of this comes down to bad luck. For instance, Nebraska has fumbled the ball six more times than the Hawkeyes this season but has only lost seven.

The only way to control this problem is to hold onto the ball.

Passing yards allowed — 180.1 yards allowed per game (2nd in the Big Ten, 8th in the nation)

Despite this past weekend’s results, Iowa’s pass defense has proven to be one of the best in the nation.

Even better, during conference play, the Hawkeyes secondary has allowed just 121.4 passing yards per game, first in the Big Ten by more than 20 yards per game.

However, there is a bit of a caveat. Part of the reason Iowa’s secondary has been so statistically dominant is because teams haven’t had to pass much on Iowa. Instead, they’ve opted to run the ball.

In conference play, Iowa’s rushing defense is allowing 201.6 yards per game. Allowing that many yards each Saturday has allowed teams to basically abandon the pass while also chewing up the clock.

Opposing quarterbacks have completed just 51.4 percent of their passes against Iowa, just 45.2 percent during conference play, meaning the secondary’s dominance isn’t all reliant on the run defense’s mediocrity.

Follow @JacobSheyko on Twitter for updates, news, and analysis of the Iowa football.


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