Sure, Iowa just beat Iowa State, 35-7. But what do we really know? What was so important about beating Iowa State? What does it all mean, Basil? The Takeaway has the answer.
Complete and total domination. This must be the first thing said about Saturday's game: taking the competition and situation into consideration, the first half was the best half of football I have ever seen a Kirk Ferentz Iowa team play. The. best. half. I have ever seen them play. The third quarter was mighty fine too, but it's pretty clear the Hawkeyes were on cruise control by the time the fourth quarter started. I mean, Paki O'Meara carried the ball... six times. That kind of a day.
Yes, the streak of quarters without a touchdown given up came to an end late in the game, when Austen Arnaud found Darius Darks for an 8-yard score. And, not to demean the Cyclones' lone accomplishment in the game, but Gary Dolphin was the cornerback in on that play. Still, that streak always seemed somewhat analogous to Iowa's consecutive games without a rushing score given up that they took into last season: while it was a remarkable accomplishment, it was also partially the result of serious luck, and not really an accurate metric of Iowa's ability on defense. So the streak's over. Big deal. Time to move onto more pressing matters.
This defense is still dominant. There really isn't a bad stat for the defense thus far. Iowa has now forced a three-and-out on 10 of its 18 defensive possessions with the starters in--a 55.6% clip. Austen Arnaud threw 44 passes on the day to Ricky Stanzi's 18... and Ricky still threw for more yards. Iowa has given up 143 rushing yards in the two games... and 36 of those came on a fake punt. Opponents are now 9-30 on third downs against the Iowa defense. In all, Iowa is giving up 10.5 first downs per game, tied for fourth best in the nation. And all that's without a glut of big plays from Tyler Sash and Adrian Clayborn.
But let's set the specifics aside and make one overarching observation: if there's a weakness on the Iowa defense, EIU and ISU were completely incapable of exploiting it. Thus, it's probably not much of a weakness.
There is no running back controversy. We don't know how he does it, but for the second straight season, Adam Robinson is not giving up the starting role. The tailback rushed for 156 yards on only 14 carries yesterday, including a 39-yard score down the sideline and a 75-yard rush to the 1 that, frankly, looked like a surer touchdown at live speed than his 39-yarder.
So how does A-Rob keep staving off guys like Jewel Hampton and Brandon Wegher last season? Perhaps it's Robinson's unorthodox stride, one that lets him easily change speeds, or maybe it's just the tenacity that comes from being a former greyshirt and 5th stringer. Whatever it is, A-Rob is a tough, consistent ballcarrier, and if he stays healthy, we don't see him giving this role up to Jewel any time soon. Or Wegher for that matter, but, y'know.
Rick-Six? Try Rick-Zero. Ricky Stanzi still has yet to throw an interception, and although Stanzi had a couple ill-advised throws yesterday, they A) fell harmlessly incomplete, B) weren't nearly as ill-advised as his usual interceptions, and C) were still only two of 18 throws. He's finding open receivers, putting his head down on 3rd and short, and basically performing the way a senior quarterback ought to. Sure, the competition's to be considered, but think about what Stanzi looked like against UNI and Arkansas State last season. This is quite a step up.
Okay, one gripe. Facing 4th and 5 at the ISU 37 in the first three minutes of the second half, Iowa punted the ball. Naturally, it was a touchback, and Iowa netted 17 yards. If Iowa's ever in that position again with anything less than a 28-0 lead, Mssrs. Ferentz and O'Keefe: go for it. Go for it or we torch cars. Wait, that's terrorism. Okay, not that. But that's a minor (if, uh, passionate) complaint, all things considered, and let's not let that take very much away from one of the finest games of the Kirk Ferentz era.