Talk about a game, boys and girls.
The Iowa offense put up points while the defense played good ol’ fashioned Hawkeye break-the-rock ball as our Black and Gold Boys routed Rutgers 30-0 in the first game of Big Ten play to start the year 2-0 heading into Iowa State.
Iowa fans were treated to a drive of their dreams as the Hawkeyes opened things up with a couple runs to Toren Young and Mekhi Sargent. That led to this on the fifth play of the game:
Go deep, @_ihmirr_.— Iowa On BTN (@IowaOnBTN) September 7, 2019
It's a good play call, and it'll continue to be for @HawkeyeFootball. pic.twitter.com/qMpOTGO04l
That’s Ihmir Smith-Marsette making his hometown team look like a bunch of fools for a 58 yard touchdown. That pass tied Nate Stanley with Ricky Stanzi for third all-time in Iowa passing touchdowns. But he wasn’t done.
The next handful of drives for the Iowa offense was, uh, not great. But the defense was great. Rutgers had a total of 47 yards in the first, as Iowa’s defense rotated players along the line. Daviyon Nixon, Chauncey Golston and of course, AJ Epenesa, were eating as AJE got his first sack of the season right here:
Just circle him every play, @FS1.@HawkeyeFootball's @ajepenesa24 will likely do something every time. pic.twitter.com/wBlKWzPkr5— Iowa On BTN (@IowaOnBTN) September 7, 2019
Before that, however, Iowa got its second touchdown of the day on the board.
After starting drives on its own 3, 11, 8, 3, and 7 yard lines, respectively, the Hawkeyes finally put a drive together from its own 3.
Nate Stanley pulled a Tom Brady and got 7 yards on a sneak from the shadow of his end zone. That set up a beautiful play-action for 25 yards to ISM, then a 6-yard swing to Nico Ragaini to bring the ball to midfield. Another sneak from Stanley on 4th down moved the sticks, while a 9-yard gain from Toren Young and 14-yard catch to Brandon Smith set the table.
Stanley overthrew a wide open Smith in the end zone the following play, but it wouldn’t matter. A 25-yard screen to Ivory Kelly-Martin got us knocking on the door on Rutgers’ 7 yard-line.
A pretty play action to Young got Tyrone Tracy open in the corner of the end zone for his first score as a Hawkeye. Just butter.
Moving up the @HawkeyeFootball passing TD list, Nate Stanley now sits in third all-time, with 57. pic.twitter.com/MkFoUAYwqN— Iowa On BTN (@IowaOnBTN) September 7, 2019
Great defense negated some weird clock management things, and Iowa went into the half up 20-0 after two field goals from Keith Duncan. The last kick was set up by Djimon Colbert doing Djimon Colbert things.
Time to put this one away, before the half. pic.twitter.com/AaG556a6Gb— Iowa On BTN (@IowaOnBTN) September 7, 2019
Stanley was 12-19 in the first half for 171 yards and 2 scores, while Iowa rushed the ball 18 times for 65 yards. The play calling didn’t feel balanced at the time, but it was.
Rutgers’ QB McLane
Trubisky Carter was a meager 3-13, for 17 yards, by comparison. The time of possession was almost 20-10 in Iowa’s favor.
Iowa willed Rutgers to pull Carter in favor of Artur Sitkowski at quarterback, and it wasn’t any different. Hawkeyes forced a three and out, but another weird decision by Nico Ragaini on the punt return gave Iowa the ball back at its own one.
Another short sneak from Stanley preceded a pass interference call on Ragaini and Iowa got breathing room. An end-around reverse to Tracy got another first down, but a short run from Sargent and two straight incompletions gave Rutgers the ball back on its 22 yard line.
Rutgers started the drive with their longest play of the game, a 23 pass to Isaih Pacheco.
With the ball at midfield, Iowa pinned its ears back, again, forcing Rutgers to punt after that brief shade of offensive firepower from the Scarlet Knights.
More questionable punt return decisions from Ragaini gave Iowa the ball at its own 1, again, and I mean imagine if Iowa had consistently good starting position in this game.
Two straight incompletions led to a semi-questionable pass interference call on Brandon Smith, but we’ll take it.
After the refs placed the ball on Iowa’s 17, Iowa decided to get Tyler Goodson in the mix. He had himself a nice 19-yard run, but that was it for that drive.
More three and outs from the Iowa defense. Rinse. Repeat. Nick Niemann made himself know on that drive.
Iowa finally got the ball at respectable field position after a fair catch from Ragaini, and then we shut the door. Stanley hit Tracy over the middle for a 33 yard gain, and then ISM got his number called again, this one a 23-yard catch for a score to make 27-0 Iowa with 17 minutes left to play in the game.
Have a day, @HawkeyeFootball's @_ihmirr_. pic.twitter.com/gLAcSzsHRM— Iowa On BTN (@IowaOnBTN) September 7, 2019
Rutgers’ next drive resulted in an Ojemudia interception.
One thing we know about @HawkeyeFootball DBs: They get picks.@GotMo_J's continuing the tradition. pic.twitter.com/Kuifb3nMfF— Iowa On BTN (@IowaOnBTN) September 7, 2019
The next drive featured two straight Sargent carries for a total of 22 yards, a Tracy pass interference, a 31-yard run from Young and the first sack of the game for Rutgers. A 43-yarder from Duncan was good to make it 30-0 with 11 minutes to play.
Rutgers eventuall punted it back to Iowa, but not before Geno Stone hobbled off the field after making a tackle.
Can clearly hear Geno Stone in pain. He’s rubbing his left knee. pic.twitter.com/rMevYsUoI0— Lucy Rohden (@lucyrohdenTV) September 7, 2019
With 9 minutes left in the game, it was Spencer Petras time. Tyler Goodson had a great run, but Petras couldn’t connect on his throws to Oliver Martin and Tracy, forcing Sleepy D to boot it 57 yards to the Rutgers 1. Neither of these teams know how to field a goddam punt.
Iowa’s second team defense forced another punt so we got another series of Petras. He completed a 9-yarder to Martin and Goodson had some more nice runs. Iowa’s second team defense forced a fumble, Petras bent the knee, and Iowa pitched its first shutout in a Big Ten opener since 1988 or something. 2-0 and your current Big Ten leaders.
- I like Nico Ragaini at receiver, but there needs to be someone else back there to return punts. I volunteer Tyrone Tracy for the job.
Or literally anyone else.
- I know it’s Rutgers, but I don’t have a single nit to pick with the way Iowa’s defense played. They didn’t seem to miss a beat with Jack Koerner filling in for Kaevon Merriweather.
- Brian Ferentz got a little cute with play-calling on short yardage downs in the first half. I trust Kirk will set the record straight there.
- Michael Sleep-Dalton is going to win Iowa a game this year.
- Stanley ended the game 16-28 for 238 yards and 3 touchdowns, but left at least one touchdown on the board. He’s still my quarterback tho.
- 34 passes. 39 runs. 194 total rushing yards for the Hawks between 6 players is what you wanna see. Young and Sargent each had 59 yards, Young on 9 carries and Sarge on 13.
- Iowa was 2-13 on third downs, which is uhhhhh not great.
- 38 minutes of possession is pretty good! No turnovers, either.
- Why was Geno Stone even in the game there?
- And that’s that boys and girls. Let’s Go Hawks and Fuck State. I’m gonna go drink a million beers at Chicago’s Oktoberfest.