Sep 11, 2021; Ames, Iowa, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes defensive back Riley Moss (33) celebrates after a Hawkeyes touchdown against the Iowa State Cyclones in the third quarter at Jack Trice Stadium. The Hawkeyes won 27-17.  Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa CB Riley Moss returning for 2022 season

Reigning Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year Riley Moss is forgoing the NFL draft and returning for one more season at Iowa.

The 6-foot-1, 194-pound senior cornerback announced his decision Wednesday on social media.

“I have always dreamed of being a Hawkeye and being able to live out this dream every day has been incredibly special for both me and my family. That’s why after talking with my family and doing a lot of self-reflection, I have decided to stay and continue being a Hawkeye for the 2022 season,” he wrote on Twitter.

“I have more goals I would like to achieve and this team has more goals to achieve as well. This has been the hardest decision I have ever had to make, and I am confident that I have made the right one.”

Moss played in 11 games in 2021, registering 39 tackles (three for loss) with four interceptions and nine passes defensed. He returned two interceptions for touchdowns in a season-opening 34-6 win against Indiana.

Moss has 10 interceptions (three returned for TDs), 15 passes defensed and 111 tackles in 30 career games.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2021; Iowa City, Iowa, USA;  Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz and Illinois Fighting Illini acting head coach George McDonald meet before the game at Kinnick Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Kick return sparks No. 17 Iowa past Illinois

Charlie Jones sparked slow-starting Iowa with a school-record 100-yard kickoff return touchdown and Tyler Goodson rushed 27 times for 132 yards as the No. 17 Hawkeyes defeated Illinois, 33-23, on Saturday afternoon in Iowa City.

Caleb Shudak added four field goals, including the game-clincher with 1:55 left, as Iowa (9-2, 6-2 Big Ten) kept its hopes alive for a conference title. The Hawkeyes entered tied with Wisconsin for the lead in the Big Ten West.

After the outcome was decided, both teams scored touchdowns in the final two minutes. Jack Campbell had a 32-yard interception return touchdown for Iowa, which leads the nation with 21 interceptions. Illinois capped the scoring with 31 seconds left.

In falling to Iowa for the eighth straight time, Illinois (4-7, 3-5) saw its hopes end for a postseason bowl. The Illini were without head coach Bret Bielema, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week. Assistant head coach George McDonald assumed Bielema’s duties.

Gunning for its third road upset of a ranked team in its last four games, Illinois drove for a touchdown on the game’s first possession but got little else on offense. Iowa limited top rusher Chase Brown to 42 yards on 13 carries, while Brandon Peters completed 16 of 36 passes for 248 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Peters gave Illinois the lead with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Luke Ford. When a low snap went through the legs of Iowa punter Tory Taylor, the Hawkeyes lost 29 yards on the play to set up a 46-yard field goal by James McCourt that put the Illini up 10-0.

But Jones made his tide-turning play as he received the ensuing kickoff next to a goal-line pylon, ran to the other side of the field and streaked up the left sideline for the touchdown.

Iowa took the lead for good in the second quarter when wideout Arland Bruce scored on a 2-yard carry. Bruce helped set up the score with a key 28-yard reception to convert a third down.

It remained a one-score game as the teams traded field goals until Shudak made his late kick.

–Field Level Media

Iowa quarterback Alex Padilla (8) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during a NCAA Big Ten Conference football game against Minnesota, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

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Alex Padilla rallies No. 20 Iowa past Minnesota

Alex Padilla and Charlie Jones connected on a go-ahead 72-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter and No. 20 Iowa held on to defeat visiting Minnesota 27-22 on Saturday at Iowa City.

Making his first career start, Padilla threw for two touchdowns and ran for a score as the Hawkeyes (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten) kept pace with Wisconsin (7-3, 5-2) in the Big Ten West standings. The Golden Gophers (6-4, 4-3) sit a game back of first, along with Purdue (6-4, 4-3).

Padilla finished 11 of 24 for 206 yards, while Keagan Johnson also caught a touchdown for Iowa.

Tanner Morgan and Cole Kramer each threw a TD pass for Minnesota, while Ky Thomas rushed for 126 yards on 29 carries and Chris Autman-Bell had five catches for 109 yards and a score.

Minnesota kicked a field goal on the final play of the first half to go ahead 13-10, but Iowa erased the deficit early in the third quarter. Jones streaked down the right hashmark, and Padilla found him for the long catch-and-run touchdown.

The Gophers responded on their ensuing possession, cashing in on Matthew Trickett’s 29-yard field goal to get within 17-16. However, Padilla’s 27-yard TD pass to Johnson, who broke two tackles on the play, created a 24-16 advantage with 12:49 remaining.

Morgan then found Autman-Bell for a 68-yard score with 5:28 left, getting the Gophers within 24-22. But on the two-point conversion attempt, Morgan’s pass was tipped and the ball fell incomplete.

Following a Minnesota turnover on downs, Iowa tacked on a field goal with 41 seconds left to go ahead 27-22.

The Gophers drove to the Hawkeyes’ 39 in the waning seconds before a sack by Joe Evans forced the clock to expire.

Each team kicked a field goal in the first quarter. Early in the second, Padilla and Jones hooked up for a 34-yard gain on third-and-2 to set up Padilla’s 1-yard TD run. The Gophers came right back with a touchdown, as Kramer hit Ko Kieft for a short gain on fourth-and-2 and the big tight end rumbled for a 37-yard score.

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA;  Wisconsin Badgers linebacker Nick Herbig (19) strips the ball away from Iowa Hawkeyes quarterback Spencer Petras (7) during the second quarter at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin controls the ground and the game in win over No. 9 Iowa

Graham Mertz scored on a pair of quarterback sneaks and passed for another touchdown as host Wisconsin defeated ninth-ranked Iowa 27-7 on Saturday to climb back into the Big Ten West race.

The Badgers (5-3, 3-2 Big Ten), who started 1-3 with two conference losses, would claim the West title if they win their remaining four games. The Hawkeyes (6-2, 3-2) have lost two straight after climbing to No. 2 in the AP Poll.

Minnesota also entered Saturday’s West Division game at Northwestern with one conference loss. Wisconsin closes the regular season at Minnesota on Nov. 27. Iowa hosts Minnesota on Nov. 13.

Wisconsin capitalized on three fumbles for a 20-0 halftime lead, holding the Hawkeyes to just 17 yards total offense in the first half.

Wisconsin, which entered with the nation’s top-ranked run defense at 53.3 yards per game and 1.9 yards per carry, held Iowa to 24 yards on the ground on 30 attempts. The Hawkeyes finished with 156 total yards.

Mertz completed 11 of 22 passes for 104 yards with no interceptions. Freshman Braelon Allen ran for 104 yards on 20 carries.

Iowa finally put together a six-play, 40-yard drive midway through the third quarter, set up by Charlie Jones’ 17-yard punt return. Spencer Petras’ 1-yard sneak made it 20-7.

After stopping the Hawkeyes on fourth-and-one, Wisconsin drove 60 yards, pushing the lead to 27-7 on Mertz’s 1-yard sneak with 12:54 remaining.

On Wisconsin’s second possession, Mertz completed five passes to five different receivers on a 65-yard scoring drive, including the 4-yard touchdown to Jake Ferguson.

Collin Larsh’s 29-yard field goal put the Badgers up 10-0 early in the second quarter.

Iowa wasted a huge defensive stand midway through the second quarter. Wisconsin recovered Petras’ fumble at the Iowa 8, but the Hawkeyes stopped fullback John Chenal on fourth down from the 1.

Two plays later, the Badgers recovered Ivory Kelly-Martin’s fumble at the 1. Mertz sneaked over on the next play to make it 17-0.

Wisconsin recovered a muffed punt at the Iowa 18 but had to settle for Larsh’s 32-yard field goal for a 20-0 lead.

Wisconsin, which lost 28-7 last season at Iowa, has won five of the last six in the Heartland Trophy rivalry.

–Field Level Media

Oct 23, 2021; West Lafayette, Indiana, USA; Wisconsin Badgers defensive end Isaiah Mullens (99) tackles Purdue Boilermakers quarterback Jack Plummer (13) during the game at Ross-Ade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

Top defenses strut as No. 9 Iowa visits Wisconsin

An Iowa-Wisconsin matchup that appeared to have lost some luster will have title implications after all when the ninth-ranked Hawkeyes visit Camp Randall Stadium in Madison on Saturday.

Iowa (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten) shares the West Division lead with Minnesota, a game ahead of Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes seemed to be the class of the division, rising to No. 2 in the AP Top 25 before a shocking 24-7 home loss to Purdue on Oct. 16.

Wisconsin (4-3, 2-2) was all but written off after a 1-3 start, which included a pair of conference losses at home to nationally ranked Penn State and Michigan. But behind a rejuvenated rushing attack and dominant defense, the Badgers inserted themselves back into the Big Ten conversation with a 30-13 victory at then-No. 25 Purdue last weekend.

Iowa hosts Minnesota on Nov. 13 and Wisconsin closes the regular season at Minnesota on Nov. 27.

“It’s always a great opportunity and challenge to play a really good Iowa team,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. “Looking forward to a good week of preparation.”

The emergence of 238-pound freshman Braelon Allen has helped to reignite Wisconsin’s traditional punishing ground game. After 12 carries in the first three games combined, Allen has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the past three games, all victories.

Chez Mellusi, the transfer from Clemson, leads Wisconsin in rushing with 692 yards and four touchdowns. He carried 27 times for 149 yards against Purdue, and Allen ran 12 times for 140 yards and two touchdowns.

The improved ground game has taken the pressure off quarterback Graham Mertz, who was an efficient 5-for-8 for 52 yards passing against Purdue without an interception. Mertz has thrown seven picks this season.

The Badgers are No. 2 in the Big Ten in rushing offense, averaging 218 yards a game, and No. 1 in the nation in rushing defense, allowing an average of just 53.3, and No. 2 in total defense (223.0). During its three-game winning streak, Wisconsin has allowed just 9.0 points and 188.3 yards.

After holding Purdue to minus-13 yards on 24 carries, the Badgers’ season-long allowance of 1.87 yards per carry leads the nation by a wide margin (Georgia is next at 2.16).

The Hawkeyes, coming off a bye after the loss to Purdue, have had an extra week to regroup and prepare.

Iowa ranks 12th nationally in overall defense, allowing 301 yards per game, and is tied for third in scoring defense at 14.6 points. The Hawkeyes lead the country in interceptions with 16 and is second in takeaways with 20.

In their loss to Purdue, however, the Hawkeyes were the ones turning the ball over: Spencer Petras was intercepted four times as Iowa was outgained 464-271.

The Hawkeyes average just 116.6 yards per game on the ground. Tyler Goodson has run for 586 yards and five touchdowns in seven games. Petras has completed 119 of 200 passes for 1,333 yards with nine touchdowns and six interceptions.

“We have to challenge their offense,” said Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard. “We have to get off the field on third down, we’ve got to stop the run, we’ve got to do all those things.”

Iowa’s 28-7 victory at home last season snapped a four-game Wisconsin winning streak in the Heartland Trophy rivalry. The Badgers have won seven of the last nine meetings.

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2021; Iowa City, Iowa, USA; Purdue Boilermakers quarterback Jack Plummer (13) tries to avoid the tackle of Iowa Hawkeyes defensive back Jack Koerner (28) during the first quarter at Kinnick Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue’s passing attack has no problem dispatching No. 2 Iowa

Aidan O’Connell accounted for three touchdowns and David Bell racked up a career-high 240 receiving yards and a score Saturday as Purdue posted a comfortable 24-7 road victory over No. 2 Iowa.

The unranked Boilermakers (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) strolled into Iowa City and dominated the previously unbeaten Hawkeyes (6-1, 3-1), outgaining Iowa 464-271 and controlling the ball for nearly 35 minutes.

Behind O’Connell (30 of 40 for 375 yards) and Bell (11 receptions), the Boilermakers continued their impressive success against second-ranked teams. They most recently had defeated No. 2 Ohio State 49-20 during the 2018 season and, with Saturday’s win, improved to 6-10 all-time against second-ranked foes.

Meanwhile, the Hawkeyes’ 12-game winning streak and nine-game conference winning streak ended with a resounding thud. Spencer Petras was just 17 of 32 for 195 yards with four interceptions as Iowa looked nothing like the team that had defeated six straight ranked opponents, including Indiana, Iowa State and Penn State this season.

The Hawkeyes had trouble generating any momentum from the start. On the fourth offensive snap of the game, Petras was intercepted by Kieren Douglas. Iowa only gained eight yards on its second drive, and then its next possession ended with a missed 25-yard field goal.

While the Hawkeyes were scuffling, the Boilermakers embarked on a 10-play, 67-yard drive and cashed in on O’Connell’s 6-yard scramble to the end zone to go ahead 7-0.

Iowa countered with a long drive of its own, going 80 yards in nine plays. A powerful 3-yard TD run by Ivory Kelly-Martin made it 7-7.

On the ensuing possession, O’Connell rolled out to his right and found TJ Sheffield for a 3-yard score to create a 14-7 advantage with 19 seconds left in the half.

Mitchell Fineran’s 31-yard field goal gave Purdue a 10-point lead early in the third quarter.

Iowa did not threaten on its next two possessions — and the hosts even caught a break when Sheffield lost a fumble on third-and-goal — and then the Boilermakers put it away on O’Connell’s 21-yard TD pass to Bell with 12:29 to go.

–Field Level Media

Iowa defensive back Matt Hankins (8) reacts during a NCAA Big Ten Conference football game against Penn State, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa beat Penn State, 23-20.

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No. 2 Iowa’s takeaway machine takes on Purdue

This season is looking like it might be a special one for Iowa, but a home loss to Purdue this week would throw a wrench into those plans.

The second-ranked Hawkeyes welcome the Boilermakers to Iowa City on Saturday for a Big Ten contest.

Iowa (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) already has defeated three ranked opponents — No. 17 Indiana, No. 9 Iowa State and No. 4 Penn State. Last Saturday the Hawkeyes rallied past the Nittany Lions 23-20 as Spencer Petras found Nico Ragaini with a 44-yard touchdown pass with 6:26 remaining.

“We know we have something special here,” Ragaini said after the top-five showdown.

Iowa has won 12 games in a row and has captured nine straight contests against Big Ten opponents. The offense generally has been solid, with at least 23 points in every game this season, but the Hawkeyes’ undefeated start has truly been fueled by the defense.

Kirk Ferentz’s team ranks fourth in the nation — and first in the Big Ten — in scoring defense, allowing just 13 points per game. The turnover story has been particularly impressive, as Iowa leads the nation in turnovers forced (20), interceptions (16) and turnover margin (+15).

Nine Iowa players have intercepted at least one pass.

“They’re going to have their eyes strapped on the quarterback, break on the ball and make plays,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said. “They’ve done that against every single opponent they’ve had. We have to figure out a way to not allow that to happen but yet still be aggressive.”

Cornerback Riley Moss leads Iowa with four picks, but he sustained a knee injury last week and was not listed on this week’s depth chart Monday.

Purdue (3-2, 1-1) has scored just 13 points in each of its past three games. Two of those contests were losses, including last week’s 20-13 home defeat to Minnesota.

The Boilermakers outgained the Golden Gophers 448-294 but were doomed by mistakes — allowing four sacks and committing two turnovers in the red zone.

Aidan O’Connell started at quarterback in place of the inconsistent Jack Plummer and went 33 of 51 for 357 yards with a touchdown and an interception. David Bell (six catches for 120 yards) topped 2,000 yards receiving for his career and certainly will be a focus of the Hawkeyes’ defensive game plan.

“Every week, the goals are really simple — to try to come out ahead on the score at the end of the week and then also to improve,” Ferentz said. “And playing a game like that (against Penn State), where it was tough, it was really gritty, that’s going to be a good thing for us. I think that will serve us well down the road.”

The last time Purdue faced the nation’s No. 2 team, on Oct. 20, 2018, the Boilermakers scored a resounding 49-20 victory over Ohio State in West Lafayette, Ind.

In their all-time series against Iowa, the Boilermakers hold a 49-39-2 advantage, including three wins in the previous four games.

–Field Level Media