Spencer Petras listed as Iowa’s starting quarterback ahead of Big Ten Championship Game

Petras took over for Alex Padilla in the second half of Iowa’s comeback win over Nebraska. The Hawkeyes face the Wolverines for the Big Ten title this weekend.


Grace Smith

Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras celebrates before a football game between No. 17 Iowa and Illinois at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. (Grace Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

Spencer Petras is listed as Iowa’s starting quarterback on the two-deep depth chart issued by the Hawkeyes on Monday afternoon ahead of Saturday’s Big Ten Championship Game against Michigan. Alex Padilla is listed as the backup quarterback.

There is not an “or” designation on the depth chart, signaling that Petras is the undisputed starter for the Hawkeyes. Iowa wide receiver Charlie Jones said that Petras took first-team reps for the Hawkeyes in practice on Monday.

“Whether he’s in there with the first team or the second team, he’s a guy that stays a leader,” Jones said. “He really proved that a lot in the last couple weeks. He’s continuing to improve and lead us forward.”

Padilla has started Iowa’s last three games, including against Nebraska last week, but was benched at halftime of the Cornhuskers game in favor of Petras. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said after the Hawkeyes came back from a 15-point deficit to defeat the Cornhuskers, 28-21, in Lincoln that he would publicly name a starting quarterback on Tuesday if Iowa advanced to the championship game (which Iowa did thanks to Wisconsin’s loss to Minnesota).

That decision seems to have been announced one day early.

“Overall, been pleased with both guys,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said of his team’s quarterback situation on Sunday. “I think both of them have really performed well during the course of the year … It’s not like we’re trying to be coy. I just want to have an opportunity to visit with the team, visit with the staff and we’ll push forward.”

Petras has started 17 games for the Hawkeyes over the last two seasons, including the first nine games to start the 2021 campaign.

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After suffering a shoulder injury against Wisconsin on Oct. 30, Petras was removed in the first quarter of Iowa’s next game against Northwestern. Padilla took over against the Wildcats, and then started and led the Hawkeyes to wins against Minnesota and Illinois.

Padilla went 6-of-14 for 76 yards and had multiple passes go through the hands of Nebraska defenders in his third career start. Padilla went 6-of-17 for 83 yards and an interception in last week’s win against Illinois. In relief, Petras went 7-of-13 passing for 102 yards — including a crucial 24-yard pass to Nico Ragaini on a third-and-14 play — and a rushing touchdown in Iowa’s comeback win.

Iowa gained 229 yards in the second half with Petras at quarterback against Nebraska, compared to 135 in the first half with Padilla leading the way.

Petras has completed 58.1 percent of his passes this season and thrown nine touchdowns compared to six interceptions. Padilla, who presents more mobility as a signal caller, is completing 46.4 percent of his passes and has thrown two touchdowns compared to one interception this season.

The Hawkeyes (10-2 overall, 7-2 Big Ten) opened as 10.5-point underdogs against the Wolverines (11-1, 8-1) in the Big Ten Championship Game. The game is scheduled to kick off at 7:17 p.m. on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. It will air on FOX. Iowa is seeking its first Big Ten title since 2004 and first outright conference championship since 1985.

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