Iowa forces 4 turnovers, beats Iowa State for 6th consecutive time

·4 min read

Iowa’s dominance over Iowa State continues.

For the sixth consecutive edition of the CyHawk game, the No. 10 Hawkeyes emerged with a victory over the No. 9 Cyclones. And this time — the first time both teams were ranked in the top 10 in series history — it was in dominant fashion, 27-17.

Iowa only mustered 174 yards of offense, but its defense completely controlled the game. Turnovers were the difference in the 2019 CyHawk game, and Saturday was no different. In the win, the Hawkeyes’ defense forced Iowa State to turn it over four times and even scored a touchdown of its own when Jack Campbell scooped up a Breece Hall fumble and returned it six yards for a score.

That was the first of three turnovers forced by Iowa in the second half. So even as the offense failed to get much going, the 20 points scored off ISU turnovers proved to be the difference in the end.

Not unexpectedly, there wasn’t much offense early in this game. Iowa State led 3-0 after one quarter, before Iowa’s offense showed signs of life in the second quarter. First, after an interception thrown by Iowa State QB Brock Purdy provided a short field, the Hawkeyes took the lead on a four-yard touchdown run by Tyler Goodson.

Iowa State punted on the ensuing possession, and Iowa responded with its best drive of the day. The Hawkeyes marched 71 yards in 10 plays and extended the lead to 14-3 when Spencer Petras hit Charlie Jones in stride for a 26-yard touchdown.

Iowa's Charlie Jones catches a touchdown pass as Iowa State's Datrone Young tries to defend in the second half during an NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)
Iowa's Charlie Jones catches a touchdown pass as Iowa State's Datrone Young tries to defend in the second half during an NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)

Iowa State would make it 14-10 before halftime, but that was pretty much the last sign of life the ISU offense would show the rest of the way.

Iowa State’s second-half drives proceeded as follows: punt, punt, fumble (returned for an Iowa TD), interception, interception, punt, punt, garbage-time touchdown, missed field goal. 

It was ugly, and the latest story in one of the lone heartbreaking chapters of Matt Campbell’s tenure as Iowa State head coach — his inability to beat Iowa. 

What does this mean for Iowa State?

This is going to be a tough pill to swallow for the Cyclones.

Coming off nine wins and a New Year’s Six bowl win in 2020, expectations were sky-high for Iowa State entering the season — especially with nearly all of their starters returning. The Cyclones were a top-10 team when the year began, their best preseason ranking in program history.

Not only were ISU fans hoping this was the year the Cyclones would finally beat rival Iowa, there were hopes and dreams of more, including a Big 12 title and even College Football Playoff aspirations. Those always seemed a bit far-fetched, and Saturday’s loss certainly puts a dent in what the folks in Ames hoped would be a special year.

That special year is still possible. Iowa is a really good team, and ISU has overcome early season losses to embark on excellent seasons in recent years. But to get back to a big bowl game or compete for the Big 12, the Cyclones need to play a whole lot better than they have through two weeks. The Week 1 win over Northern Iowa was concerning. The turnovers and general ineffectiveness on offense on Saturday were as well, but there’s still time to turn things around.

What does this mean for Iowa?

Through two weeks, it’s hard not to be impressed by Iowa — especially the defense. In Week 1, the Hawkeyes beat No. 17 Indiana, 34-6, forcing three turnovers in the process. That included two interceptions returned for touchdowns. This week, it was four more turnovers.

That level of defensive performance is going to keep you in every game you play, but the offense needs to improve if the Hawkeyes want to win the Big Ten. With Wisconsin losing to Penn State in Week 1, Iowa moves into the early driver’s seat in the Big Ten West.

And with non-conference games against Kent State and Colorado State ahead, Iowa has two golden opportunities to get its offense going. If the offensive production gets better, look out.