Spencer Petras

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

So, we already know who is going to start at quarterback for Iowa against Michigan in the Big Ten Championship Game this weekend. And, believe it or not, I think head coach Kirk Ferentz and company made the right choice by giving Spencer Petras the keys to the offense in the biggest game Iowa has played in since 2015.

Alex Padilla certainly provided a spark when he entered the Northwestern game when Petras’ shoulder was noticeably not 100 percent. Padilla was moving out of the pocket and providing his playmakers an opportunity to make plays in single coverage.

For whatever reason, that spark seems to have fizzled out.

In his three starts, Padilla completed only 23-of-55 passes. Yes, there was an electric 72-yard touchdown to Charlie Jones against Minnesota. But there have been questionable moments, too. Against Nebraska, several of his passes were off target and went through the hands of Cornhusker defenders. There’s also the off-target pass to Sam LaPorta in the end zone on fourth down that resulted in a LaPorta drop.

I was fully in favor of Ferentz giving Padilla a chance to start against Minnesota, and again against Illinois. But now, heading into the conference title game, I think it’s time to go back to Petras, at least for now. Petras looked better in the second half against Nebraska, when he replaced Padilla, than he has for most of his Iowa career. A third-and-14 throw to Nico Ragaini that picked up 24 yards was particularly impressive.

Look, I think it’s pretty close between Padilla and Petras. But Padilla completing under 50 percent of his passes isn’t going to get it done against a defense as good as Michigan. Petras has 17 games’ worth of experience as a starter and looked better against Nebraska than Padilla did.

Iowa is right to ride the hot hand and go with Petras. And I guess, if they are wrong, another halftime change at quarterback might do the trick again.

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