Rapid reaction: 10 takeaways from the Iowa Hawkeyes’ Senior Day loss versus Nebraska

The Iowa Hawkeyes dropped the regular season finale against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, falling 24-17 despite a frantic second half rally. Ultimately, the Hawks just dug themselves too deep a canyon to climb out of.

“We didn’t do the things you have to do to be successful. Credit our opponent, they did. So it’s to their credit. Can’t say how proud I am of our guys. They’ve been consistent all the way through the season, given great effort. Never gave up tonight. They fought really hard, especially in that second half. So proud of that.

“I think the reality is we just made the hill a little bit too high to climb, and part of that was self-inflicted, and that’s always tough. Any time you struggle with penalties, you struggle with the turnovers, and give up a big play, those are things we really take pride in doing well and didn’t do that tonight. So that is certainly disappointing,” Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz said afterwards.

What are 10 key takeaways from Nebraska’s win?

Iowa coughed up the Big Ten West

Bryon Houlgrave/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK

It’s the biggest takeaway from this frustrating loss. After a 3-4 start had fans thinking this season might turn into outright failure, Iowa rattled off four straight wins to work itself into control-your-own destiny mode in the Big Ten West. All Iowa needed to do was beat Nebraska and the Hawks were headed back to the Big Ten Championship game. Sadly, the Hawkeyes quite literally fumbled that opportunity away.

Nebraska finally has the Heroes Trophy back

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Well, it was a heck of a run wasn’t it? Iowa topped Nebraska seven times in a row before Friday. The Huskers finally have the Heroes Trophy back after beating Iowa for the first time since a 37-34 overtime loss back in 2014.

The Hawkeyes' run of 14 straight wins in November is gone, so-gone, too

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Speaking of winning streaks, the November winning streak is up in smoke, too. Dating back to a Nov. 9, 2019 loss against Wisconsin, Iowa had won every game in November since. That run of success is kaput as well.

Iowa missed Cooper DeJean badly

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After Cooper DeJean left with an injury on the game’s opening defensive series and spent the rest of the afternoon in sweats, Nebraska made the most of it. The Huskers picked on freshman defensive back TJ Hall first for a pair of touchdowns to Trey Palmer and then sophomore Jamison Heinz for a touchdown to Marcus Washington.

Iowa's early fumbles cost them dearly

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Both Spencer Petras and Alex Padilla coughed the football up early on a pair of fumbles. That led to 10 Nebraska points, which was a big reason why the Hawkeyes lost. Both plays were frustrating examples of puzzling ball security.

Iowa made the costly special teams miscue

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

After a defensive stop to start the third quarter, it was Arland Bruce IV and Iowa that made the critical special teams error. Bruce muffed a punt and it set Nebraska up at the Hawkeyes’ 18-yard line. Then, Thompson found Washington for his third touchdown strike through the air.

It doesn't appear Alex Padilla is the answer at quarterback

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Iowa obviously has had problems at quarterback. It’s frustrating that Spencer Petras didn’t get to finish this game on Senior Day, but there’s plenty of reasons to be left wanting more from this position at Iowa. After Friday, it feels clear that Alex Padilla isn’t the longterm answer at quarterback. Sure, he was pressed into action, but the inaccuracy and just general jitteriness indicates he isn’t going to be a serious upgrade at signal-caller for Iowa. Once again, he had another fumbled center exchange as soon as he came in.

George Barnett might have to go

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All of the quarterback issues boil back to one common theme: this Iowa offensive line never got where it was supposed to go. While Iowa offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brian Ferentz is an obvious target for the Hawkeyes’ offensive shortcomings, it’s time to have the discussion about whether or not Iowa offensive line coach George Barnett is going to work out in Iowa City. He can’t be free from blame here, and deserves a healthy helping of the ire from Hawkeye fans.

Kaleb Johnson didn't get the football enough early

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As Iowa was busy fumbling away its season, I couldn’t help but wonder why the Hawkeyes weren’t turning and handing off to running back Kaleb Johnson on every snap they could.  He finished with 16 carries for 109 rushing yards and a 44-yard rushing touchdown. Why he finished with just 16 carries I do not understand.

Luke Lachey is going to be very, very good

Bryon Houlgrave/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK

Why not end with some positivity, right? Toss Kaleb Johnson into this category, too. There are reasons for optimism heading forward. Tight end Luke Lachey is one of those. He finished with seven grabs for 89 receiving yards and a score in his first leading role.

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Story originally appeared on Hawkeyes Wire