Ruden: Iowa State win can be turning point for Iowa

Iowa didn’t play up to its ability against Iowa State, but the win could still mean a lot for the rest of the season.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa State’s offense prepares for a play during a football game between Iowa and Iowa State at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames on Saturday, September 14, 2019. The Hawkeyes retained the Cy-Hawk Trophy for the fifth consecutive year, downing the Cyclones, 18-17. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor

Here we are again. 

It feels like we’ve been here before, and that’s because we have. Iowa picked up its fifth-consecutive win over Iowa State on Sept. 14, 18-17, leaving a feeling of optimism for the rest of the season.

And that’s warranted. 

The Hawkeyes put their physical and mental toughness on full display by winning a game that included stellar play on special teams and two weather delays against one of the most competitive teams in the Big 12. 

There’s a chance this win over Iowa State becomes a turning point for Iowa. Everyone expected the Hawkeyes to run through Miami (Ohio) and Rutgers in the first two weeks of the season, but the Cy-Hawk game was a toss-up. 

Still, the Hawkeyes powered through the lightning and the Cyclones’ big plays to come out with a 1-point win.

It wasn’t Iowa’s cleanest game by any means. 

RELATED: Special teams propel Hawkeyes past Cyclones

The offense failed to finish drives, settling for four field goals while scoring only one touchdown. 

On the defensive, the secondary couldn’t come up with an answer for the Cyclones’ passing game, as Iowa State threw for 327 yards and two touchdowns.

But the Hawkeyes proved Lee Corso and all of the Cyclone fans wrong. Although it didn’t look pretty, the win was impressive. For a team to beat another good team when playing what was probably its worst game of the season is a plus. 

Now the Hawkeyes can move on with confidence. Their bye week comes at a perfect time with the injuries they have suffered on the offensive line, defensive line, and secondary. 

Then, they get a tune-up game against Middle Tennessee State in their nonconference finale before taking on Michigan in Ann Arbor in what could be their toughest game of the season.

That’s what makes the Cy-Hawk win so important.

The Hawkeyes know they didn’t play up to their ability against the Cyclones, but they still found a way to win.  That should give a talented team confidence.

If Iowa plays like it can, wins over Michigan and Wisconsin on the road and a victory over Penn State at home become real possibilities.

Shades of the 2015 season are visible.

When Iowa went 12-0 behind C.J. Beathard, a deep running back corps, and stellar defense, the Cy-Hawk game was close until Iowa pulled away in the fourth quarter.

The following week, Marshall Koehn hit a 57-yard game-winning field goal to down Pittsburgh in a night game at Kinnick.

Iowa parlayed those wins into a 62-12 tune-up win over North Texas, a 10-6 defensive win over then-No. 19 Wisconsin, and a 40-10 slaughtering of then-No. 20 Northwestern on its way to punching its ticket to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship.

The Hawkeyes’ win over the Cyclones can play a similar role. The game wasn’t decided until the fourth quarter, and Iowa didn’t play its best, but it remained undefeated.

The Cy-Hawk win proved to be important in 2015, and it could be just as important this season. 

Despite facing a difficult schedule, things are set up for the Hawkeyes to make a run. But they’ll have to answer the call.