Iowa Survives South Dakota State's Upset Bid 7-3 Behind 2 Safeties in Bizarre Opener

Adam WellsSeptember 3, 2022

Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Amid all the excitement around the country for the triumphant return of college football on Saturday was a game between South Dakota State and Iowa that set the sport back several decades.

The Hawkeyes survived a disgusting display of offense with a 7-3 victory over the Jackrabbits, but no one should come away celebrating anything that happened at Kinnick Stadium.

Iowa's seven points came from two safeties and a field goal by Aaron Blom.

Max Olson @max_olson

Iowa had one scoring drive on offense today and it was 5 yards on 4 plays.

Both offenses combined for 288 yards, including 92 rushing yards on 66 carries. Iowa's Spencer Petras, the winning quarterback, went 11-of-25 for 109 yards with one interception.

South Dakota State did have an opportunity to take the lead after getting the ball back at its own 20-yard line with 36 seconds left to play. Mark Gronowski went 1-of-4 for six yards on the drive, including an incomplete pass on fourth down to seal the loss.

If there was anyone who came out of this game better off than when things started, it was Iowa punter Tory Taylor. The junior had 10 punts that covered a total of 479 yards with seven of them landing inside the South Dakota State 20-yard line.

Jackrabbits punter Hunter Dustman saw plenty of time on the field. He had 457 yards on 11 punts, but none of his attempts stopped inside Iowa's 20-yard line.

Dane Brugler @dpbrugler

Sums up this <a href="https://t.co/rHewIPXt4c">pic.twitter.com/rHewIPXt4c</a>

Iowa's performance in this game isn't hard to figure out. Head coach Kirk Ferentz did nothing to change an offense that ranked 99th in FBS in points per game (23.4) and 13th out of 14 Big Ten teams in yards per game (303.7) last season.

Rather than try to make changes to the offensive coaching staff during the offseason, Ferentz acted like Principal Skinner from The Simpsons trying to figure out if he was out of touch.

Brian Ferentz retained his position as offensive coordinator for a sixth season. He also added the title of quarterbacks coach in February after Ken O'Keefe stepped down.

Abdul Hodge, who played linebacker at Iowa from 2001 to 2005 and was a linebackers coach for three seasons at South Dakota, was brought on to coach the Hawkeyes tight ends. Brian Ferentz previously worked with the tight ends but relinquished that job to work with the quarterbacks.

Adam Kramer @KegsnEggs

Iowa showing off its renovated offense. <a href="https://t.co/P71uHl6k2H">pic.twitter.com/P71uHl6k2H</a>

Kirk Ferentz has become an institution at the University of Iowa. This is his 24th season leading the program. He's the Hawkeyes' all-time leader in games coached (289), wins (178), bowl appearances (18) and bowl wins (nine).

But at some point, you can't keep doing the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result.

If Hawkeyes fans want to be charitable about Saturday's showing, they can say it was the first game of the year and teams have to work through things to figure out what kind of team they are going to be. The team also won 10 games last season and has gone 36-13 since 2018, including Saturday.

That's a reasonable perspective, but it doesn't line up with what Iowa has been for a number of years.

South Dakota State is an FCS powerhouse with an appearance in the national title game two years ago and a trip to the playoff semifinals in 2021, but this was Gronowski's first game back after tearing his ACL late in the 2020 season.

Some growing pains were to be expected with the offense, especially playing an FBS defense. This game was more of an indictment for Iowa than anything else.


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