Season in review: Iowa
Record: 8-5 (6-3 B1G)
Big things were expected from Iowa in 2016 after going 12-o and coming up one play short of a B1G title. The Hawkeyes didn’t meet the hype they had received in the preseason but still managed a second-place finish in the B1G West.
High point of the season: Stunning Michigan in Kinnick Stadium
Iowa was sitting at 5-4 after two-straight losses to Wisconsin and Penn State while Michigan had annihilated nearly everyone on its schedule to that point. On paper, Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes didn’t stand a chance.
Kinnick Stadium under the lights has some magical powers, though.
This was a smash-mouth contest from start to finish. Each team only scored one touchdown and the two teams combined for just 431 yards of total offense in the defensive battle.
And on the final play, freshman kicker Keith Duncan sent a 33-yard field goal through the uprights to hand the Wolverines their first loss of the year.
For a team that kissed away its shot of a second-straight B1G West crown, this was a game that helped salvage another average season in Iowa City.
Low point of the season: Losing to North Dakota State
Like we stated in Northwestern’s season review, it doesn’t get any lower than losing to an FCS opponent.
North Dakota State had proven it could compete at the FBS level long ago, but they’d never beaten a reigning division champion from a power five conference. That changed this past season.
Thanks to a late TD and a game-winning field goal on NDSU’s final two possessions, the Hawkeyes were stunned in front of a home crowd, losing 23-21.
At least ESPNU added this hilarious commentary to sooth the pain, right?
We re-created our own version of the Iowa-North Dakota State ending. Not to brag but it might be the best 30 seconds in the history of TV. pic.twitter.com/lX2av7xpw1
— ESPNU (@ESPNU) September 20, 2016
Most meaningful play: Keith Duncan’s game-winning kick vs. Michigan
Being in position to knock off the No. 3 ranked team in the country is a nerve-racking situation for any kicker. It’s hard to imagine putting a freshman in that position.
Duncan looked like a seasoned veteran, though, hitting the 33-yard kick with no time left to give the Hawkeyes the biggest win of their season.
Team MVP: LeShun Daniels Jr./Akrum Wadley, RB
It’s really hard to pick one back or the other for the Hawkeyes, as both were equally important and the numbers were virtually identical.
Wadley ended the year with 1,081 yards and Daniels added 1,058 and both scored 10 TDs on the year. They both had different strengths, which proved to be beneficial in certain situations.
Wadley was the quicker back, with a better ability to make guys miss. Daniels had speed, too, but he also possessed the ability to run over defenders. You might prefer one over the other, but both guys got the job done this year.
The Hawkeyes were 8-1 when rushing for over 100 yards this season, with the lone loss coming in the Outback Bowl against Florida.
Wadley and Daniels were both instrumental in Iowa’s success this season.
Overall grade: B-
Iowa was suppose to flirt with another unbeaten regular season and compete in the B1G title game again. Though they finished second in the division, they weren’t really that close to accomplishing that task.
A win over Michigan and closing the year with three-straight victories really salvaged the Hawkeyes’ grade in 2016.