Hawkeyes among USA TODAY Sports’ Week 9 winners

That’s right folks. Iowa football is a winner for the first time all season.

It’s hard to remember a more controversial season for football in Iowa. Currently a midfielder for the road team, it’s been a massive fight for Iowa this year (4-4, 2-3 Big Ten). The defense was very good, despite what 54 points handed to the Ohio State Buckeyes would suggest. Phil Parker’s unity has kept them in games and really made every game relatively winnable.

The problem was a lack of offense to capitalize on that stingy defense and a fantastic special teams unit led by punter Tory Taylor. Sure, this has been an issue in previous seasons, and the Hawkeyes’ offense has been a top preseason concern. However, no one expected it to be this bad. What we thought was the bottom has dropped significantly, the Hawkeyes’ offense ranks among the worst in the nation in pretty much every metric and statistical category you want to use.

It’s been a long and busy year for Hawkeye fans, but are their fortunes finally starting to turn?

Iowa came out of the Week 9 matchup against Northwestern looking like real winners, positively received by Paul Myerberg of USA Today’s College Football Week 9 Winners and Losers:

The Hawkeyes scored a touchdown. Indeed, they scored once in the first quarter, again in the second, once in the third, and added another in the fourth as the nation’s sleepiest and least productive offense sprung to life to beat Northwestern 33-13. Iowa ended the season with a season-high 393 yards — its best single-game performance since winning 428 yards against Maryland last October — while quarterback Spencer Petras rushed for the second time this season for 200 yards. — Myerberg, USA TODAY Sports.

Most of this seems to be a hoax to every other team. Maybe you should assume the same was true for the Hawkeyes, but it really shows how much better they looked on Saturday.

The offensive ailments are well documented. A lack of creativity, a lack of healthy players and a lack of execution have been the backbone of Brian Ferentz’s offensive unit so far this season. However, we saw a massive increase from this season’s norm against Northwestern. Sure, the Wildcats aren’t the best opponent to gauge how effective they are, but compared to games against other “bad” teams, Iowa looked a lot more competent.

The offensive line played the best it had all season and offered Spencer Petras a pretty clean bag. While the senior quarterback didn’t really take over the game, he looked a lot more comfortable against Northwestern than he has all season. It was by far his best performance of the season.

The offensive looked more creative overall, with many citing the implementation of the jet sweep as a key factor in the offensive’s success. I’ll write more about that as the use of jet motion was something I requested before the season.

No matter how you look at it, Iowa football is headed for a clash with Big Ten West Division rival Purdue. After a win that saw us finally see some of the changes we’ve been promised all season, Iowa has a huge opportunity this Saturday.

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