AMES, Ia. – Mark Weisman right. Mark Weisman left. Mark Weisman up the middle.
You name it, Iowa’s 236-pound tailback did it, but his 145 yards on 35 carries aren’t the only reason this Cy-Hawk rivalry tilts back to the east.
There were other reasons for the Hawkeyes’ 27-21 victory, and one of them is offense – of which Iowa State showed nothing until quarterback Sam Richardson started hooking up with Quenton Bundrage.
The bottom line is that the Hawkeyes improved to 2-1 after beating the Cyclones for the first time since 2010 – and 0-2 Iowa State needs a miracle to reach its fourth bowl since 2009. It’s the first time since 2007 that Iowa State lost its first two games.
It took a quarter for Iowa to figure out that it could pass successfully, and the Hawkeyes proved that on a 5-yard scoring pass from Jake Rudock to Kevonte Martin-Manley. The 71-yard drive included Rudock completing four passes, and then the big one after Martin-Manley beat Deon Broomfield in the end zone.
Iowa’s defense was solid. Iowa State’s offense, basically, was still non-existent with Richardson at the helm two weeks after spraining his right ankle in a loss against Northern Iowa.
But finally after 19 plays, the Cyclones got to run a play on Iowa’s end of the field after Connor Kornbrath’s 30-yard punt against a mild breeze with 5 minutes into the second quarter. It did Iowa State no good – four plays and the Hawkeyes had the ball again.
One of the plays included a fourth-and-4 from Iowa’s 34-yard line, but instead of catching Iowa’s defense ill-prepared to handle the play, the Cyclones had the wrong personnel grouping on the field.
Instead of moving the chains, they called timeout, allowing the Hawkeyes time to regroup. So when the play was finally run, it was a screen pass to Jarvis West that went for no gain.
Iowa not only had momentum with that questionable offense, but the Hawkeyes responded with a 27-yard field goal by Mike Meyer and a 10-0 lead with 1:43 left until halftime.
Iowa wasn’t done quite yet. Linebacker James Morris intercepted a Richardson pass and returned to Iowa State’s 36-yard line. On fourth down with 10 seconds to play, Meyer’s 38-yarder made it 13-0 Hawkeyes.
The Cyclones had just four first downs during the first half, while Iowa had 186 yards.
The Hawkeyes’ strategy was easy – hand the ball to Weisman and watch him run through and around defenders to the tune of 77 yards on his first 16 first-half carries.
However, Iowa State got on the board with a 67-yard pass from Richardson to Bundrage with 5:28 left in the second quarter. He broke free from B.J. Lowery near midfield, then outran the Hawkeyes’ top secondary defender into the end zone.
The drive was 89 yards. Iowa State had only 92 yards before making it a one-possession game.
Similar to the Cyclones’ touchdown, Iowa took advantage of a missed tackle, too, when Jacob Hillyer spun from Jansen Watson at the 15-yard line en route to a 26-yard catch-and-touchdown run. That gave the Hawkeyes a 20-7 lead with 41 seconds to play in the third quarter.
Iowa padded its lead to 27-7 on Ruddock’s 1-yard run with 7:05 left in the game.
The Cyclones scored again, making it 27-14, when Richardson found Bundrage alone in the end zone with 4:27 to play. The 26-yard scoring pass culminated an 82-yard drive.
Iowa State wasn’t finished quite yet. The Cyclones pulled off an on-side kick on the ensuing kickoff, taking over at Iowa’s 46-yard line with 4:13 to play.
However, on second down, cornerback B.J. Lowery made a one-handed interception, giving the Hawkeyes the ball at its 15-yard line.
The Cyclones closed within 27-21 on a 17-yard touchdown pass to Bundrage with 2:26 left.
This time Iowa recovered the on-sides kick, and the Hawkeyes got the ball at their 46-yard line.
Iowa State had no timeouts remaining, Iowa had three, and took one before punting on fourth down with 12 seconds left.
Jarvis West called for a fair catch on the 13-yard line. Iowa State completed a pass, and tossed the ball around before it finally was down. Game over. And it’s a Hawkeye state for the first time since 2010.