5 questions with Iowa football columnist Rick Brown

Rick Brown

Do you think (Wisconsin's) Melvin Gordon (he was once an Iowa commit) would have been able to flourish under the current Hawkeye regime?

I think he probably would have. I say that because on numerous occasions this season, a back has hit the hole ... a significant hole ... but not had the burst to get through it for a big gain. Gordon would still be running through some of those holes. Iowa definitely misses a home-run back who can make the most of a seam and giddy-up downfield in a hurry. And the offense likely would have been shaped around Gordon some, too.

Why hasn't (Iowa coach Kirk) Ferentz pulled a punter out of the student body? Is he watching a different game?

Minnesota's worst field position after an Iowa punt last week was its own 31. That is painful. And usually fatal to the field possession battle. But last week, it probably didn't matter. Minnesota was superior in every phase of the game: offense, defense, special teams.

Why doesn't Ferentz give C.J. Beathard a fair shot to win the job instead of giving Jake Rudock all the No. 1 reps and throwing C.J. in for spot duty? He has a stronger arm, is a faster runner, with better composure.

... but not a better grasp of the playbook. That's why Rudock is the starter. If the offense is in stalemate mode in the first half against Illinois, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Beathard in there, trying to duplicate his second half against Pitt. C.J. did have every opportunity to win the job when he started and played all the way at Purdue. He played OK, not good enough. I know the argument is out there that that is too small a sample size. But Rudock played very well against Northwestern, too.

Is Jordan Canzeri still injured? We could have used him against Minnesota. There were some holes there that (Mark) Weisman was too slow to get through.

Yes. He's been injured all season. Looked pretty good at the start of the Maryland game on Oct. 18, then suffered a high ankle sprain. He was cleared to play last week, but the coaching staff decided to rest him another week when the game went south. So I think you'll see him Saturday at Illinois.

I will say, the catch Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams made was a great one.

Maxx Williams will be playing in the NFL. He is good. Really, really good (3 TD catches vs. Iowa).


Ohio State's 49-37 victory over Michigan State Saturday was its 21st straight in Big Ten play, a record. The Buckeyes set the previous mark of 20 between 2005 and 2007. … Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon rushed for 205 yards against Purdue, the 11th time a Big Ten running back has reached the 200-yard plateau this season. That's the most 200-yard games in a season since 2005. …Nebraska and Wisconsin will play for the Freedom Trophy Saturday. It will be the Big Ten's 17th rivalry trophy game. … Iowa's Mark Weisman scored his 30th career rushing touchdown last week at Minnesota, the most in Kirk Ferentz's 16 seasons as coach. Iowa's all-time record, 33, is shared by Sedrick Shaw (1993-96) and Tavian Banks (1994-97). … It was announced this week that Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs suffered a lacerated kidney against Penn State Nov. 1. Already suspended from Saturday's game with Michigan State, Diggs will also miss the Terrapins' final two regular-season contests.


No. 11 Nebraska (8-1, 4-1 Big Ten) at Wisconsin (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten) — The West Division title could well be determined in this 2:30 p.m. game (ABC). Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah leads the nation in all-purpose yards at 187.9 yards a game. Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon leads the nation in rushing yards per game with 166.8. Not surprisingly, Wisconsin and Nebraska are 1-2 in the Big Ten in rushing offense. But the defense could well determine this contest. Wisconsin leads the Big Ten in rushing defense, allowing 94.3 yards a game. Nebraska is fifth, at 123.8 yards a game. The Badgers also lead the nation in total defense at 251.1 yards a game.