With a $1.35 million check already in the back pocket of Colorado State to face No. 5 Iowa, the Rams also flirted with a win in Fort Collins on Saturday afternoon.
After taking a 14-7 lead at the break, it rained some booze from the packed 65,456 at Kinik Stadium, with the visitors having hockey on the ropes.
But the Rams were unable to maintain fault-free football, which propelled them early, with some mistimed errors helping Iowa escape to a 24–14 victory.
“We had a chance in this game,” said CSU coach Steve Adazzio. “We made some important mistakes along the way that were important, and therein lies the game.”
Before entering a hostile environment as a 23-point underdog, Addazio stressed the importance of playing a perfect game with fifth-place hockey.
While this was the case in the first two quarters for CSU (zero turnover and two penalties), the wheels fell in the second half.
The first of two costly, result-altering mistakes came early in the third quarter when CSU failed to secure a handoff from quarterback Todd Santio, trailing A’Jon Vivens. The unsuccessful exchange resulted in the recovery of an Iowa rumble inside the Rams 20.
From there, it didn’t take long for the Hawkeyes to pay green and gold, punching Pigskin in Pedert in the very next play.
Shortly thereafter, although CSU’s defense enjoyed an all-round compelling performance, the unit endured a damaging sequence that allowed Iowa to gain an edge it would never give up.
Facing third and -11 just outside field-goal range, freshman defensive back Robert Floyd struck Hawkeye with a pass interference penalty. Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras found Sam Laporta tight on the very next snap for a 27-yard score amid blow coverage in the CSU secondary.
Two miscues for the hosts, 14 points. That’s all it took for the team of twenty-fourth-year coach Kirk Ferrantz to avoid a shocking death.
“That’s how these games go,” Addazio said. “We told the team, there will be a difference in turnover. The same thing happened, and that is disturbing. When you are playing with the country’s No. 5 team, you have to correct all the errors. We didn’t do that. “
While the heavily favored Hawkeye grabbed opportunities gifted by the Rams, CSU struggled to mobilize any sort of late game rally.
The Rams covered a total of 90 yards in the second half while converting just 2-of-10 third-down attempts—after the first half where CSU’s third-down offense got off to a hot start.
Colorado State scored 7-7 when Santio darted in the middle for a 10-yard touchdown on the third and 9 on late in the first quarter. The game-tying drive included a third and a pair of 11 conversions produced by QB Scramble and Trey McBride Reception.
Floyd later pulled off a second-quarter interception, while the Hawkeyes threatened to jump ahead. The former walk-on returned the ball 62 yards to Iowa’s 23, setting up Gary Williams’ 3-yard, go-ahead touchdown, with 24 seconds left in the second quarter.
“Our team is a tough, resilient, competitive hard-working team,” Addazio said. “I’m proud of my players for the way they competed. We just have to stick together and keep competing. And they’re learning to do that. It’s obvious,” he said.
Addazio’s defense generally pressed the crowd-friendly Hawkeye to the ground from 54 yards. Leading his defensive front along the way, the Rams made eight tackles for the loss.
The rams did not travel to Iowa City in search of moral victory. Still, they exit Big Ten territory, with their heads held high as the non-conference play ends.
“Moral victories are not accepted here,” said defensive lineman Scott Patchan. “At the end of the day, we didn’t get it done. But I’m not disappointed at all. If we take care of the penalties, the silly mistakes, we can go on and do great things at this conference. We’ve shown That we are a tough team. It’s written on the wall. We were in a dog fight today. It’s disappointing that we couldn’t go with ‘W’ because we fought so hard.