IOWA CITY – Iowa fans are becoming all too familiar with this sort of painful outcome.
This time, however, a new player took part in yet another nail-biting defeat.
Sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock, who shined at times in his first time seeing college game action, threw his second career interception at a most inopportune time. Senior safety Jimmie Ward picked off the first pass thrown by Rudock on what Hawkeye fans were hoping would be the first game-winning drive led by the new Iowa quarterback, which instead set up Mathews Sims for a winning field goal with four seconds left as Northern Illinois avenged last season’s close season-opening loss the Hawkeyes with a 30-27 victory in front of 67,402 gold-clad fans that were left Kinnick Stadium in familiar frustration.
“It was a tough football game to lose,” Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Give Northern (Illinois) credit; they did a great job. I thought our guys played really hard. There were a lot of positive things that we saw out there on the field by a lot of different guys, but the bottom line is we just didn’t make enough plays to be successful. To their credit, they capitalized, and we didn’t do that.”
It’s becoming a familiar sentiment for Ferentz in games like Saturday’s opener. The three-point defeat was the 13th for the Hawkeyes in the last 18 one-score games dating back to the magical 2009 Orange Bowl season in which Iowa went 11-2.
Since then, Iowa has gone 19-19 in the last three seasons leading up to Saturday, dropping Iowa below .500 since the Hawkeyes’ lone BCS win over Georgia Tech. It was also, remarkably, Iowa’s seventh-straight loss; the longest losing streak since the first two of Ferentz’s 15 seasons as Hawkeye football coach.