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IOWA CITY — Despite a 6-0 record, three victories over ranked teams, a No. 2 national ranking and an unbelievable track record for forcing turnovers, the Iowa football team still had tons of non-believers.

Several alleged experts insisted that the Hawkeyes simply weren’t that good. They were solid but hardly the best team in the Big Ten. They weren’t worthy of consideration for a spot in the College Football Playoff. That 6-0 mark was a mirage.

You can imagine what those folks are saying now.

"I told you so."

The Hawkeyes failed to generate much offense, failed to force many turnovers, failed to do much of anything to stop Purdue receiver David Bell (again) and failed to do much to fire up another sellout crowd in going down to a 24-7 loss to Purdue at a relatively sedate Kinnick Stadium.

A week after the fans rushed the field in jubilation following a conquest of No. 4-ranked Penn State, many of them charged off to the warmth of their vehicles by the middle of the fourth quarter.

While the Hawkeyes likely screwed up their chances of getting into the playoff — that’s not a certainty but a probability — they still are in very good position to make it to the Big Ten championship game.

That’s assuming they don’t come up with any more stinkers like the one they produced Saturday.

"Our goals are all in front of us …," quarterback Spencer Petras pointed out. "We just need to regroup."

The Hawkeyes remain one of three teams in the Big Ten West with one defeat, and one of those is Purdue, which has to travel to Ohio State on Nov. 13. The other one-loss team is Minnesota, which comes to Kinnick that same day. If the Hawkeyes can beat the Gophers and win out against the remaining mélange of mediocrity that is the Western Division, they probably land in Indianapolis on Dec. 4.

There’s your silver lining for the day.

There wasn’t much else to celebrate Saturday.

"It was a team loss," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said, refusing to pin the blame on either inept offense or porous defense. "I didn’t see much out there that looked good other than maybe the return game."

The Iowa offense matched its season-low of 271 yards and had almost as many turnovers (4) as in the first six games combined.

The defense permitted Purdue to roll up 463 yards and the Boilermakers converted 9 of 16 third-down opportunities.

This is the same Purdue team that had scored exactly 13 points in each of its previous three games.

The biggest difference in this game was that the Hawkeyes were unable to force turnovers with the frequency that helped them win their first half-dozen games.

They got one, and that was a fluke. At the time, it looked like one of those wonderfully fortunate gifts that could turn the game around. It was an opportunity to reverse three quarters of awfulness that preceded it.

Purdue’s TJ Sheffield caught a short pass and appeared to have scored a touchdown on a 6-yard pass that would have made the score 24-7, but after a video review it was ruled that Sheffield lost control of the ball and it hit the pylon. That made it a touchback instead of a touchdown. The Hawkeyes had the ball back, still down only 17-7, with more than a quarter to go.

But Petras was sacked on the next two plays, nearly threw an interception on third down and the Hawkeyes punted the ball right back to the Boilermakers.

"That was a big turning point," Petras admitted. "We had a chance to go right down the field and we didn’t."

In truth, the game probably was lost before that. A 75-yard drive that produced a go-ahead touchdown just before halftime may have been even more crushing.

You just never got the feeling all day that Iowa was going to be able to mount a comeback.

"I think we just got outplayed today," Ferentz said. "We’re a better team when we play as a team and can create some energy, and we never got that going today."

Center Tyler Linderbaum rejected the notion that there was any sort of letdown following that mythic victory over Penn State.

"I thought we did a good job of moving on from that win last week," he said.

Linderbaum added that he was "excited that there’s a lot we’ll be able to learn from this tape" and "excited to see the film" and "excited to see what we can learn from this."

Sure, those postgame film sessions should be every bit as exciting as a double root canal.

Safety Jack Koerner said it was imperative to just block out the noise and focus on the future.

"Just like last week when people were praising us for the way we played, we couldn’t listen to that," Koerner said. "We can’t listen to what they’re saying about us now either."

Surely, though, he has to know what some are saying.

"I told you so."

This article originally ran on qctimes.com.

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