Colorado State falls on the road against No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes

Jeremiah Janzen

The Colorado State football team taking the field at Canvas Stadium
The Colorado State football team takes the field at Canvas Stadium Sept. 3. The Rams lost 42-23 against the visiting South Dakota State University Jackrabbits. (Gregory James | The Collegian)

Early on, the Colorado State Rams (1-3 overall) looked as though they might just pull off another improbable victory despite being underdogs on the road. Unfortunately, the fifth-ranked University of Iowa Hawkeyes had a plan of their own, as the Rams fell to the Hawkeyes 24-14.

Colorado State, whose last matchup against a top five opponent came in 2017 against the University of Alabama, headed into the contest coming off of a 22-6 win against the University of Toledo.

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This is a really good football team, and I thought we played tremendous upfront. … Obviously the chunk plays came in the back end on us, but upfront, we stopped the run. You can’t stop the run better than that.” -Steve Addazio, head coach

Rams quarterback Todd Centeio completed 16 of 30 pass attempts for 155 yards and one touchdown. Star tight end Trey McBride hauled in six receptions for 59 yards, while wide receiver E.J. Scott hauled in two receptions for 51 yards. The contest marks the first time this season that McBride did not hit the 100-yards receiving mark.

Conversely, Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras completed 15 of 23 completed passes for 224 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, the interception being Petras’ first of the year. Tight end Sam LaPorta caught four receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown of his own.

The Rams attempted to get their passing game going early on; however, Centeio’s struggles once again came to light. On the Rams’ first play of the game, Centeio’s pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and nearly intercepted by a pair of colliding Iowa defensive backs.

Things would change early on in the second quarter, as it took Iowa only three plays for a score. Petras found Keagan Johnson for a 43-yard touchdown pass, giving the Hawkeyes a 7-0 lead.

Despite struggle, CSU would fire back with a nine-play, 35-yard drive that culminated in a Centeio touchdown run. Centeio would not make the same mistakes on this drive, as he chose to tuck and run multiple times instead of forcing throws, tying the game 7-7.

The Rams later capitalized on the turnover after Centeio found Gary Williams for a touchdown pass. Against all odds, the Rams entered halftime in Iowa City, Iowa, with a 14-7 lead over the No. 5 team in the nation.

Strong pressure from Rams defensive linemen Toby McBride and Scott Patchan would set the tone early in the second half, as Colorado State halted Iowa on their first drive of the half. Despite the strong defensive effort from the Rams early in the half, the Iowa defense came out even stronger, proving too much for the Rams to handle down the stretch.

CSU running back A’jon Vivens fumbled the ball deep in Ram territory with Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell recovering the ball for a turnover. Immediately following, Tyrone Tracy, Jr. ran for a six-yard touchdown with kicker Caleb Shudak successfully converting his point to tie the game up at 14-14.

These scores quickly turned the tide for the Hawkeyes. After going three and out on the offensive end, CSU allowed their second touchdown of the quarter. A costly pass interference penalty against the Rams allowed Petras to bounce back from his first interception, finding a wide-open LaPorta for a 27-yard score and giving the Hawkeyes a 21-14 lead.

Following 14 unanswered points for Iowa in the third quarter, the fourth quarter would prove to be much the same for Colorado State. Iowa would increase their lead to 24-14 behind a field goal by Shudak — the first field goal of the game. These were the final points scored by either team, as the Rams were held scoreless in the second half.

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Despite the loss, the Rams defense proved tough for the Hawkeyes. On the day, the Rams held Iowa to only 54 rush yards total, coming up with several tackles for loss and allowing only one run over 15 yards.

“This is a really good football team, and I thought we played tremendous upfront,” head coach Steve Addazio said. “Obviously the chunk plays came in the back end on us, but upfront, we stopped the run. You can’t stop the run better than that.”

The Rams head into next week looking at a rare week off from competition. After two games on the road, CSU’s next contest will be at home against San Jose State University Oct. 9.

Jeremiah Janzen can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @JeremiahJanzen