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Iowa seeing red in the red zone

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

For years, I was convinced that rushing offense and rushing defense were the two most important indicators of success in college football. Teams that excelled in both areas usually had strong records; those who didn't lingered in the basement of their respective leagues.

Then Iowa came along. The Hawkeyes rank 19th nationally in rushing defense (98.8 ypg) despite facing three top-40 rushers (Javon Ringer, LeSean McCoy and Tyrell Sutton). They also boast the nation's sixth-leading rusher in junior Shonn Greene (137 ypg).

Iowa has proven that red-zone offense is a better measuring stick for a team. The Hawkeyes rank last in the Big Ten, converting just 19 of 26 red-zone opportunities into points. They rank third in the league in red-zone chances (26) but tie for sixth in red-zone touchdowns (12). The result is three consecutive losses by five points or fewer.

Pat Harty of the Iowa City Press-Citizen takes a look at Iowa's recent history in close games, from the clutch teams of 2002-04 to the problems this season. From 2002-04, Iowa went 6-0 in games decided by three points or fewer. Since 2005, the Hawkeyes are 0-8 in those contests.

Red zone offense is one reason why.

Here's a look at where Iowa has ranked.