AMES — Kirk Ferentz is not one to dwell much on the glamour of coaching milestones.
Asked about approaching his 200th career win earlier in the week, the Iowa football coach said it means “not a hell of a lot, quite frankly.”
So when Ferentz and Iowa (2-0) reached the much-talked-about milestone Saturday with a 20-13 win over rival Iowa State, it was perhaps fitting that it happened in a not-always-glamorous fashion.
Iowa State (1-1) had a 290-235 advantage in yardage, marking the second straight game Iowa was outgained.
The lack of offensive production left an opening for the Cyclones late in the game. Iowa State quarterback Rocco Becht’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Jayden Higgins on fourth-and-9 cut Iowa’s lead to seven points with 2:53 remaining.
Then Iowa State had another opportunity to tie the game after an Iowa three-and-out in the final two minutes. Iowa State needed a touchdown, but the possible game-tying drive went only 7 yards before a turnover on downs.
As has been the case in many of Ferentz’s 199 other wins, Iowa’s defense and special teams made up for lesser production on the offensive side of the ball.
Two plays in particular from the defense and special teams were directly responsible for points (or a lack of points) on the scoreboard.
Iowa safety Sebastian Castro returned an interception for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Fresh off Jeremiah Cooper’s controversial interception of Iowa quarterback Cade McNamara, the Cyclones had the momentum and an opportunity to cut Iowa’s lead down to one possession. Instead, Castro’s pick built a seemingly-insurmountable three-possession lead.
Earlier in the half, Iowa State’s offense was rolling and seemed poised to score on the opening drive. Then Logan Lee blocked a 36-yard field goal attempt.
The Hawkeyes essentially shut down Iowa State’s offense on the ground. The Cyclones averaged 2.8 yards per carry, and their longest rushing play was for only 11 yards.
Becht, a redshirt freshman making his second career start, went 23-for-44 with 203 yards. He had one touchdown and one interception.
The Iowa offense, on the other hand, had some highs and seemingly more lows.
The Hawkeyes quickly distanced themselves from their in-state rival with two scoring drives in the first quarter — a 70-yard field goal drive and an 80-yard touchdown drive.
But then Iowa’s offense, which averaged an astronomical 10.8 yards per play in the first quarter, averaged only 1.8 yards per play in the second quarter.
McNamara was 12-of-22 for 123 yards. He had no touchdowns and one interception. Jaziun Patterson, a redshirt freshman, was Iowa’s leading rusher with 86 yards — 59 of which came on one play on the opening drive. He scored the offense’s only touchdown on a 4-yard carry.
— John Steppe