IOWA CITY, Ia. – Admit it, you were clamoring for C.J. Beathard.
With the Iowa football team sputtering and trailing 19-3 Saturday against Wisconsin, the black and gold faithful had seen enough of Jake Rudock.
What Hawkeye fans didn't know was, they hadn't seen the best of Rudock.
The beleaguered quarterback spearheaded a comeback bid, completing nine of his last 13 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns.
He also ran for a score, but Iowa lost 26-24.
"I think it's those little details," Rudock said. "The receivers did a good job … and also the offensive line. They gave me time to understand what (the Badgers) we're trying to do to us."
Hawkeye quarterback deals with loss to Wisconsin. Andrew Logue/The Register
For a guy who's always taking one for the team, Rudock doesn't get much loyalty from fans in return.
If he struggles early in Friday's 11 a.m. regular-season finale against Nebraska, the bellowing for his backup will resume.
It's not Beathard's fault folks are fickle, but it's made this season bittersweet for Rudock.
The junior from Weston, Fla., has improved in nearly every statistical category since becoming a starter in 2013.
His completion percentage is up, from 59 percent last fall to 64.2. His yards per attempt went from 6.9 to 7.3. He has 14 touchdowns and just four interceptions, after throwing for 18 TDs and 13 picks as a sophomore.
Those numbers, however, don't reflect Rudock's resiliency.
Digital Rewind: To the last, Iowa will remain an enigma
Not only did he engineer touchdown drives on Iowa's final three possessions Saturday, he did it against a Wisconsin defense ranked tops in the nation.
"When there is a loss, I don't really believe in moral victories," Rudock said. "I remember last year against Ohio State, you guys were all saying that, too.
"We just need to do enough to win."
Some of that responsibility falls on the Iowa defense, which allowed the Badgers to convert several key third downs and rush for 266 yards.
That combination enabled Wisconsin to run out the clock and prevented the Hawkeyes from taking a last-minute shot at winning.
"Obviously, it hurts," Rudock said. "So we go back, have a short week and bounce back."
The Cornhuskers also rely on a sometimes maligned quarterback.
Tommy Armstrong Jr. is completing 51.6 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
He has an edge over Rudock in mobility, rushing for 588 yards and averaging 5.3 per carry.
"Right now, obviously we're upset," Rudock said of the Hawkeyes' mood. "We'll fix what we need to fix and we'll flush it real quick, especially with a six-day week."