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Iowa pulls off fourth-quarter magic

Iowa may look back on this game as the one that saved its season. At the very least, the Hawkeyes saved themselves a lot of criticism with a memorable comeback:

Iowa 31, Pitt 27: The Hawkeyes have had their share of fourth-quarter comebacks at Kinnick Stadium. And as a veteran Pitt watcher, I can tell you that the Panthers specialize in throwing away games they should win.

Still, this one was hard to believe. Iowa was down 24-3 late in the third quarter and looked completely flustered on offense. Somehow, though, James Vandenberg was able to turn things around in a big way. The junior quarterback threw three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter and completed 14 of 17 in the final 15 minutes to lead the unlikely comeback.

Iowa had no choice but to throw the ball often with the big deficit, and its offensive line did a great job of picking up blitzes and giving Vandenberg time. Meanwhile, the defense slowed down Pitt, which isn't designed to burn clock with its no-huddle attack.

It was a great win, and avoiding a 1-2 start is huge for the Hawkeyes. But the comeback doesn't completely erase the realization that this is not a great team right now. Iowa has a lot of issues to clean up before Big Ten play arrives.