- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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This we know about Iowa: the Hawkeyes would be very competitive in the MAC this year. Win the league? Probably not, but competitive.
We knew Iowa had issues and that nothing would come easy for this team, but we did not expect a 32-31 loss to Central Michigan at home. That's the same Central Michigan team that lost 41-7 to Michigan State on its own field just one week ago.
But the Chippewas simply outplayed the Hawkeyes for most of the game. They led 23-14 at halftime and could have been up more had they converted red-zone chances into touchdowns. After Iowa controlled most of the second half and went ahead 31-23 with 2:31 left, Central Michigan rallied to score a touchdown with 45 seconds to go. After missing the two-point conversion, the Chippewas had two chances to get the onside kick, and on the second one Iowa's players acted like they were afraid of the ball.
A big Hawkeyes personal foul penalty on Joe Gaglione -- Iowa's fourth personal foul of the game -- helped lead to the game-winning 47-yard field goal by David Harman with three seconds to go. And the boos came raining down at Kinnick Stadium for the 2-2 home team.
This is as bad a loss as Kirk Ferentz has had in a long time. His team beat Northern Illinois by a point in the opener, so it has played two MAC teams even this year, along with beating an FCS squad (Northern Iowa) and losing to Iowa State at home while not scoring a touchdown. That sure doesn't inspire a lot of confidence in Iowa City with Big Ten play beginning next week; if Minnesota comes to Kinnick and wins the Floyd of Rosedale trophy again, Hawkeyes fans will be completely apoplectic, at least the ones who are not already there.
The only good news for Iowa was Mark Weisman's performance. The walk-on fullback came out of nowhere to run for 113 yards and three touchdowns last week against Northern Iowa, and that made for a nice story. But there were questions whether he could keep it up. Well, in his first career start, Weisman did even better than last week in rushing 27 times for 217 yards and three more scores. There's very little wiggle to Weisman, but he's a lot of fun to watch. His 5-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was a thing of smashmouth beauty, as he simply pushed his defender into the end zone like a tackling sled.
Weisman isn't just a fill in. He should be the starter going forward even when Damon Bullock, Greg Garmon and Jordan Canzeri are healthy. He gives the Iowa offense an identity. It's almost inconceivable that the Hawkeyes could have a player rush for over 200 yards and yet still lose to a MAC outfit.
They had their passing game clicking early, as James Vandenberg was on fire in the first quarter and threw his first touchdown pass of the season. He couldn't keep that hot start going, however, ending up 16-for-25 for 215 yards. Iowa and Vandenberg continue to settle for too many underneath routes.
Central Michigan's Ryan Radcliff was better, completing 26-of-35 passes for 283 yards and two scores. The Chippewas were able to pick apart Iowa's defense at times in the passing game. Iowa also hurt itself with nine penalties for 106 yards, compared to just four for 26 yards for the Chippewas.
It's going to be another long, ugly week for Ferentz and the Hawkeyes. This was a terrible loss, both for them and the Big Ten, and if they don't get things turned around they won't be very competitive in the league race. At least not as competitive as they'd be right now in the MAC.
17hJosh Moyer and Mitch Sherman