‘Dream’ start to season for Riley Moss and dominant Iowa defense
Indiana was supposed to test Iowa’s defense.
Instead, the Hawkeyes defense scored 2 touchdowns while holding the Hoosiers to just 2 field goals.
What some predicted would be the end of No. 18 Iowa’s 25-points-or-less defensive streak (not me) was barely a blip in a 34-6 win over No. 17 Indiana.
The Hawkeyes didn’t just survive, they thrived.
That streak now sits at 23 consecutive games, which is impressive in its own right. But it’s the way they did it that deserves today’s accolades.
“It’s insane,” Riley Moss told BTN after the game. “I grew up dreaming about being on this field. Running into the end zone in front of a full house felt like a dream.”
The defensive back did it twice — once for 30 yards and another for 55 — and at the perfect times. Both interceptions came immediately after calls under replay review didn’t go Iowa’s way. Neither was necessarily wrong — one was just weird — but that lift left, at least until the shift in momentum Moss provided a play later.
“For us to do that, to play that way against them and our DBs really looked quick to the football and good anticipation,” said Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, calling Moss “loose and light” after the game.
Moss is the third Hawkeyes defensive back to have 2 pick-sixes in a game since 2013.
Incredibly, Iowa didn’t win all 3 games.
More incredibly, Josh Jackson’s were the only 2 Iowa scores in a 38-14 loss to Wisconsin in 2017. (Iowa fans likely remember it best for the 66 yards the Hawkeyes put up on offense that day.)
And most incredibly, “all other Power 5 schools have 3 such players combined,” according to The Athletic’s Jason Starrett.
When Iowa wasn’t intercepting Penix — Dane Belton had one that led to a field goal to close the first half and there were a few near-misses after that — they were punishing him.
“A big part of it, too, is the guys up front getting pressure,” Ferentz said. “It’s not always about sacks, but if you can keep the quarterback uncomfortable, that factors in, too.”
He was uncomfortable.
Defense. Wins. Games.
And @HawkeyeFootball knows a thing or two about defense.💥 pic.twitter.com/47ejuXPyfE
— Iowa On BTN (@IowaOnBTN) September 4, 2021
Indiana coach Tom Allen called it “out of sync.” Penix finished with 14 completions for 156 yards — 33 of them on one 4th down conversion late — while Indiana rushed 31 times for 76 yards. The Hoosiers scored their fewest points since 2013.
“It’s good team defense,” Ferentz said. “I know it sounds mundane, but that’s how we play.”
“Mundane” might not be Moss’ word for it, but he stressed the fundamentals in the film room, crediting Phil Parker and the defensive coaching staff for preparing the team.
Moss said if the Hawks play like that, “we can play with anyone in the country.”
Iowa won’t have to mess around with the typical early season FCS or MAC opponents before they find out. The Hawkeyes’ next test is next week, traveling to No. 7 Iowa State along with ESPN’s College GameDay.
But the takeaway from this day of takeaways is this: Iowa’s defense is one to be reckoned with in 2021.