Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, November 1, 2014

Pure, unadulterated dominance. There really is no other way to describe with Iowa did to Northwestern on Saturday in Kinnick Stadium.


And the timing of this 48-7 demolition of the Wildcats couldn?t have been any better. This is exactly what Iowa needed coming off a bye week following a poor effort in a loss at Maryland.

Walking off the field that afternoon in College Park, Maryland, things didn?t look promising. Which direction was the program going? Was it really still a contender in the West?

The Hawkeyes answered any questions about their viability today – yes, even if the demolition came against a Northwestern team that now has lost three straight. In fact, this team just may win the West. Remember, it closes the season by hosting Wisconsin (Nov. 22) and Nebraska (Nov. 28), the other Big Ten West contenders.

On this day, Iowa?s offense came to life, notching 483 yards. Even more encouraging: The Hawkeyes had 221 yards rushing, an area of concern entering today. And leading the way was an unlikely player: freshman Akrum Wadley, who carried 15 times for 106 yards and a touchdown, averaging 7.1 yards per carry in his first career game to become the Hawkeyes? first 100-yard rusher in 11 games. And Mark Weisman was Mark Weisman, rumbling for 94 yards and three TDs.

"It's a mindset thing," Weisman said. "We came out fired up and kept it going."

?(The running game) looked better, certainly,? said Kirk Ferentz. ?We're going to continue to work on it. If we're going to be good, we've to run the ball effectively. Mark gave us good juice there, especially in that first half, and then we were able to get him out in the second half, which was a good thing, and get Akrum some carries. He hasn't really played very much, as you know.?

A spotty offense had cast the most doubt on this team, as Iowa entered today ranked No. 11 in the Big Ten in scoring (27.0 ppg). Iowa arrived in Kinnick today averaging 146.3 yards yards (10th in the Big Ten).

"This team has had the potential to do this kind of stuff all year, but we just weren't executing," Weisman said. "Today, we definitely executed."

Quarterback Jake Rudock did his part, too, hitting 12-of-19 passes for 239 yards and a touchdown. It was a solid effort for a guy who has had his critics, myself included. At one point, fans were crying for change to spark the listless offense.

?I thought he had several really good throws today, a couple of them on those 3rd downs, too, where he zipped it in there,? said Ferentz. ?And kudos to our receiver, too. He did a good job of bringing it in. It looked a little bit more like a passing game there.?

The defense also looked good. This was supposed to be a strong unit led by a stout line, but the group has struggled of late. The nadir was a 38-31 loss at Maryland last month in which Iowa blew a 14-0 lead, allowing the Terps to rush for 212 yards. The loss ended a three-game winning streak. But, more than anything else, it seemed to kill the spirit of the team. Turns out, it didn?t.

The bye week seemed to energize the Hawkeyes. The staff may look back in a month at this win today vs. Northwestern as the turning point of the 2014 season.

?I can't pinpoint a turning point,? said Ferentz. ?In fact, our first bye week was really good. We were humming out there, really practicing well, and quite frankly I think all of us were probably moping a little bit a week ago. And that's okay, too. That was probably good for all of us.

?But Sunday we turned our sights towards the next game, and sometimes it's good to stew on things for a little bit. That's healthy, too.?

Because of that, this Iowa team can keep dreaming. Today?s win embodied everything the Hawkeyes are capable of, as they put the inconsistency that was threatening to derail the season behind it. At least for a day.

Iowa is now 6-2 overall. And, with one conference loss, the Hawkeyes remain tied for the lead in the Big Ten West and in control of their destiny. The rest of November drips with opportunity, as there are games left at Minnesota and at Illinois before finishing up with two huge home games vs. Wisconsin and Nebraska.

?Obviously just really pleased with the ballgame today,? said Ferentz. ? Our guys really did a good job, played hard. We thought this was a really even game going in, and quite a few breaks and what have you, and our guys did a good job. Happy to get out with a victory, and this was probably our best performance of the season, stating the obvious."

About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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