IOWA CITY — One of the most frustrating football seasons in Iowa history ended Friday in frustrating fashion.

Unable to capitalize on turnovers and incapable of sustaining drives, the Hawkeyes dropped a 13-7 decision to 17th-ranked Nebraska at Kinnick Stadium.

The victory handed the Cornhuskers at least a piece of the Big Ten Legends Division title and secured Nebraska’s spot in next week’s conference title game, where it will face Wisconsin for a Rose Bowl berth.

But for the Hawkeyes, the loss ended a 4-8 season, the program’s worst record since 2000. Iowa’s 2-6 Big Ten finish is its worst since matching that mark in 2006.

The team’s sixth consecutive loss was more of the same.

“The defense, it showed up every week and did its job. Offensively, we just didn’t get it done,” running back Mark Weisman said.

Iowa finished with a season-low 200 yards of offense and converted on just 5-of-15 third-down opportunities.

The Hawkeyes failed to covert either of the Cornhuskers fumbles they recovered in the second quarter, the first on a punt that Micah Hyde recovered and the second that Louis Trinca-Pasat gave Iowa following a fumble by Taylor Martinez.

“We did our part,” Hyde said. “We created the opportunities, but as a team we didn’t take advantage of them. That’s on all of us. We didn’t make every tackle we needed to make, either.”

And once Iowa did move into scoring position late in the second quarter, the Hawkeyes were flagged for their only penalty of the game for having too many players on the field after a timeout.

That five-yard penalty left a 42-yard field goal try by Mike Meyer short.

“Those five yards at that time, they were huge. On a day like today and into a wind like that, we didn’t help him out. That’s the way it went for us,” said quarterback James Vandenberg, whose final drive in an Iowa uniform ended in an interception by Alonzo Whaley with 2 minutes, 11 seconds remaining at the Hawkeyes 40-yard line.

The interception allowed Nebraska (10-2, 7-1 Big Ten) to finish off its fifth come-from-behind victory of the conference season.

Held to a season-low three points in the first half, the Cornhuskers moved ahead to stay by scoring on two of their three possessions in the third quarter.

A 52-yard field goal by Brett Maher on Nebraska’s first drive of the half cut into the 7-3 lead the Hawkeyes had held since Vandenberg scored on a 1-yard run with 28 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Cornhuskers then moved ahead to stay when Rex Burkhead — playing for the first time since re-aggravating a knee sprain on Oct. 20 against Northwestern — reached the end zone on a 3-yard carry with 3:10 left in the third quarter.

Nebraska, which limited Iowa to 70 yards in the second half, held the Hawkeyes to two first downs over the final 21 minutes of the game.

“I don’t know if we played our best, but we did what we had to do,” Cornhuskers coach Bo Pelini said. “…Other than that first drive, I thought defensively we played really good. That’s a physical team, and I told our team before the game that this was going to be about winning the line of scrimmage. We did that well enough to win.”

And what Nebraska did was enough to force Iowa (4-8, 2-6) to deal with its fifth loss by six points or less.

“It’s been tough. We practiced well all week and we’ve been doing that. It just never carried over to games,” Iowa center James Ferentz said. “That’s the tough thing. We’re a better football team than we showed. It never seemed to come together for us.”

(8) comments

joedirt

I sometimes wish that I was a "casual Hawkeye Fan! " instead of putting so much energy into rooting for my team. Over the years me and my family have spent a lot of time and money supporting the Hawkeyes and that will never stop! I am a Hawk Fan to the end. However, I cannot sit on my hands like many do at Kinnick stadium and sit and watch a team that has so much talent go into a downward spiral like they have in the last few years without voicing my opinion. I believe that the coaching is in line with Vandenberg's abilities, many of the plays that have been called were either poorly executed by the quarterback or called conservatively due to his lack of athletic ability. It just seemed to me that Vandenberg wasn't willing to sacrifice himself the way most quarterbacks do. When the game is on the line the quarterback needs to make plays, even if it means taking hits running for first downs. Other quarterbacks in the league can improvise and make things happen. I understand he has never been a running type quarterback, but when your receivers are covered and the closest defender is ten yards from you and you throw the ball away?Some people say that Iowa didn't have depth at wide receiver, a lot of balls were dropped...how many circus catches did Mcnutt make in his career? Why? because the throws were inconsistent. Some say that our O'line wasn't good enough...if that is so then why did Vandenberg get through the entire season without as much as a scratch? He was way over his head as a Big Ten Quarterback...C'mon 2013!!

budnight

Hang in there casual Hawkeye fans. Conservative play is what makes Iowa consistent. Look at the Illini if you need a reference of what non-conservative and inconsistent play is. Ferentz and Hayden Fry play a similar game. C'ya next year! Go Hawks!

qchawkeye

I'm not sure what you mean by casual Hawkeye fans? By casual do you mean critical? I have to agree with you that conservative play is what makes Iowa consistent. It's allowed Iowa to consistently lose six games in a row. Finally, I can't say that Ferentz and Fry play a similar game, Fry was not adverse to throwing in some "exotic" plays from time to time and mixing it up a bit more than Ferentz. I don't believe he was nearly as predictable as Ferentz is.

Hawkeye Jim

It's too bad the Coaches are not graduating.......another disgusting performance by the coaches........Davis is starting to make KOK look like an offensive genius!!! Next year looks like a 2 - 10 record........maybe, if we're lucky! I hate to say it, but this State is looking more like a Cyclone State instead of the HAWKEYE State..........sad, real SAD...................................

hawkeye57

While I agree with much of what has been said in the preceding comments, I disagree with blaming the quarterback. The Iowa "NO IMAGINATION OFFENSE" is primarily at fault. Some heads must roll! All season the offensive coordinator has failed to show any initiative. Time after time needing 8 yards Iowa has run a 6 yard pass play, needing 10 yds run 8 yds. or running into the teeth of the defense on third down and making it so obvious that everyone on the opposing team knows just what is coming. If Ferentz with his $3.5 million salary cannot see it, maybe someone should be wondering if he is the right person for the job

Arc Angel

Not going to get better Boys!!!

qchawkeye

I don’t usually post comments, but as Popeye would say, “that’s all I can stands ‘cause I can’t stands no more!” after watching the Nebraska vs. Iowa game.

It’s apparent the very cold and windy game conditions must have caused brain freeze on the part of Ferentz and his coaching staff. I have never witnessed such poor decision-making and game management, which seemed to be the culmination of what has occurred throughout the season. Even the announcers were baffled by Iowa’s questionable strategy and play-calling at the end of the first half and at the end of the game. Here’s a team playing it’s last game of an extremely disappointing and frustrating season, with no bowl opportunity, and they still play so CONSERVATIVELY!

I wish James Vandenberg all the best, but I’m glad he won’t be returning next season. And, I’m not so sure the new offensive coordinator should be returning either. Iowa had absolutely no effective passing attack all season, which made it a lot tougher on the defense.

What’s worse, looking down the road I don’t see anything about next season that warrants much expectation. We won’t have a starting quarterback, that I know of anyway, that will have had playing experience in a non-conference or conference game. I strongly disagreed with Ferentz’ unwillingness to play a backup quarterback in a few games that were foregone conclusions.

joedirt

Fitting that Vandenberg's last pass as a Hawkeye resulted in a interception! Finally the Vandenberg era is over and hopefully the Hawkeye's can come back next year with a more potent less conservative offense. It sure would have been nice to see if one of the back-up quarterback's on the bench could have lifted the offense to make some of those close losses become victory's. As the season comes to a close we haven't even seen a glimpse of who will quarterback next year....whomever it is, is sure to be better than Vandenberg!
Go Hawks!

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