It's difficult to say exactly how badly the Iowa Hawkeyes performed in their 14-38 loss to the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Numbers don't quite describe it, as 14-38 makes it look like the Hawkeyes showed up.
The reality is Iowa was down 31-0 at the end of the third quarter.
The defensive line had possibly its worst game of the season, the back seven missed tackles, Mike Meyer missed two field-goal kicks and the offense was deplorable.
It didn't help that Penn State had a terrific game.
But how much does this loss tell Hawkeye fans about what they can expect from Iowa for the rest of the season?
Left tackle Brandon Scherff was lost late in the first quarter with what Marc Morehouse of the Cedar Rapids Gazette reported as a broken leg.
@esaufley Broken leg. He's off to the hospital in an ambulance.— marcmorehouse (@marcmorehouse) October 21, 2012
He will be done for the year.
A few plays later, guard Andrew Donnal went down and was on crutches for the remainder of the game. His injury looks less severe, but don't expect to see him back soon.
That leaves the strength of the Iowa offense—the line—down two players.
The thorn in the side of former Iowa defensive coordinator (DC) Norm Parker's defense was precision quarterbacks. Precision quarterbacks that played in an up-tempo offense were particularly troublesome.
New DC Phil Parker had yet to face a precision quarterback, and there were questions about how he would respond.
If the Penn State game was any indication, he has even more issues than Norm Parker.
The PSU offense did what it wanted, and quarterback Matt McGloin played pitch-and-catch with his receivers and especially the tight ends.
According to Hawkeyeinsider.com, Iowa had one official visitor in Michigan running back Berkley Edwards. There were also a number of other recruits on unofficial visits.
Not only did they come to Iowa City to view the Hawks' worst performance in almost a decade, but they also witnessed a parade of boos rained down on the Hawkeyes.
Don't expect any tweets from Hawkeye recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson this weekend.
First the loss to Central Michigan, and now this embarrassment.
As B/R Big Ten lead blogger Adam Jacobi noted, Ferentz has "the worst contract in all of college football." If Iowa were to fire Ferentz, it would have to pay him almost $20 million, plus whatever it would have to pay a new coach.
Consequently, Ferentz is safe for now, but more shows like the Penn State or CMU fiasco and ticket sales will lag. In that case, athletic director Gary Barta will have to act.
After a strong showing against Michigan State—a contest the Hawks won 19-16 in double overtime—I posited that perhaps the Bullies of the Big Ten were back.
After getting crushed by Penn State to the tune of 38 points and 504 yards, it is evident that Iowa may be able to go toe-to-toe with a power football team like MSU, but a quality finesse team like Penn State will torch the Iowa defense.
Unfortunately, these days, there are more finesse teams than power teams in college football.
In the one bright spot on a dark day, junior Jordan Cotton took a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown.
He had a touchdown return last week, but it was called back due to a block-in-the-back penalty.
Iowa has been without a dangerous return man since Derrell Johnson-Koulianos ended his career after 2010.
...not going to turn things around this year.
Hawkeye fans have been waiting for the passing game to have a breakthrough, but it's not going to happen.
All that one can realistically hope for is something that isn't a complete failure.
However, Iowa has likely lost two starting linemen. In effect, the running game will probably struggle going forward.
That puts the offense squarely on the passing game's shoulders, and it was already struggling with an effective rushing game.
Most will blame Vandenberg for another poor performance, but the receivers regressed to Iowa State-levels of competence.
Perhaps it wasn't that bad, but there were multiple dropped passes—the NCAA doesn't keep a tally of drops, but I counted four.
Of course, Vandenberg has to throw catchable balls. At times, it seemed like he could only throw fastballs and faster balls.
It seems Iowa fans have been asking this question for three seasons, and there still isn't an unequivocal answer.
One thing is certain. If there is an answer, it isn't positive.
It will need one in order to flush this loss down the toilet and show up next week against Northwestern in Evanston.