Turnovers turn the tide for Iowa in 6th straight Cy-Hawk win
You’d forgive any Iowa fan if they felt a little uneasy after the first quarter in Ames.
The Hawkeyes had missed a field goal wiiiiiiide right because of a high snap, the offense had put up 14 yards and the play-calling was predictable (7 yards on 5 first-down plays).
The Cyclones didn’t look great, either — it was a punting and field position fest as promised — but they managed 83 yards and put points on the board, up 3-0.
Early, but ugly. Some cause for concern.
Matt Hankins changed all that with 12:03 left in the half. His interception gave the Hawks the ball at midfield and Tyler Goodson marched into the end zone 8 plays and 49 yards later. The first play of the drive was a 9-yard pass, the last a 4-yard run, and Iowa had a 7-3 lead and its confidence back.
Maybe this was the same old Iowa State the Hawkeyes had beaten 5 times in a row. The same Matt Campbell who had unlocked so much potential but never found the key to beating Iowa.
I’ll let him in on the secret: It’s turnovers. The Hawkeyes haven’t lost one since 2015 against the Cyclones, as the broadcasters were so eager to point out when a ball bounced away from Ivory Kelly-Martin — after he’d been bounced on his butt. They kept the ball and the lead.
But the uneasiness returned right after Iowa finished that drive with a touchdown for an 11-point lead with 1:01 left in the half, because the defense that looked so dominant in Week 1 allowed the Cyclones to swiftly swirl down the field and score with 7 seconds left. They went 75 yards in 5 plays? Uh-oh. A 14-3 lead at the half looks a lot better than 14-10 from the black and gold sections. (Those are Hawkeyes fans, in case the black and white uniforms of the cardinal and gold team threw you off.)
The second half started the same way as the first: More punts, more field position. But with Iowa State pinned by punter Tory Taylor at the 5 and the ball in Breece Hall’s hands, Jestin Jacobs jarred it loose and Jack Campbell scooped it up and walked in from the 6.
The next drive, a Seth Benson interception turned into 3 more points when Caleb Shudak buried a field goal from 51, and the Hawkeyes had a commanding — for a defense that has yet to give up 25-plus in 24 games — 24-10 lead.
Hankins, who started it all, added a 2nd interception for good measure and No. 10 Iowa closed out No. 9 Iowa State 27-17. But the magic margin was 4-0 in turnovers.
The teams didn’t play each other last year for the first time since 1976, and the Cyclones’ ranking reached record highs despite 2 other losses. But in the past 5 Cy-Hawk Trophy games, Iowa is +9 in turnovers. And that’s why the trophy is staying in Iowa City for a 7th year and Campbell is still looking to solve the Iowa puzzle.
It’s the annual measuring stick, and they don’t measure up.
The Cyclones are going to need takeaways if they want to take back that trophy and put the Cy back in the Cy-Hawk series.