When Rece Davis said on College GameDay that he was picking Iowa State to take down Iowa, I laughed to myself. Davis is as informed as anyone. He did his homework enough to know that the Cy-Hawk Trophy was won by the road team each of the last three years. Kirk Ferentz actually has a losing record against Iowa State.

Davis assumed that this rivalry would yield another close, back-and-forth result. But Davis also assumed that this was a typical year for Iowa. He didn’t realize that this year’s group wasn’t one likely to play down to Iowa State’s level.

Boy, did they avoid that.

The Hawkeyes thumped Iowa State in every way. The 42-3 win was the largest margin of victory in the rivalry game in 19 years. It was actually the most points Kirk Ferentz ever hung on the Cyclones. And that was safe before the fourth quarter started.

Iowa is elite, Iowa State is not. It didn’t take 60 minutes of them playing on the same field to determine that. But for whatever reason, people still aren’t sold on Iowa as a team capable of looking like a top-15 team.

Maybe they needed to see more of C.J. Beathard. All he’s done is win every regular season game he’s ever started.

Beathard was so good on Saturday that he could’ve went to the locker room and put on street clothes in the beginning of the second quarter. He lit up the Cyclones for three touchdowns on his first nine passes.

Even better, he made a throw that will make NFL scouts drool:

You couldn’t have asked Beathard to do much more than he did on Saturday night. Perhaps Davis and other doubters forget what Beathard did last year in Ames. It was the first sign that this Iowa group was a bit different than the mediocre teams Ferentz had in the early part of the decade.

No, this group is different. The Hawkeyes have skilled running backs like LeShun Daniels Jr. and Akrum Wadley, both of whom made it into the end zone.

Iowa’s offensive line might not be as experienced as last year’s group, but there wasn’t much debate which team won the battle at the line of scrimmage.

Maybe people forgot that Iowa has Jim Thorpe Award winner Desmond King, who once again cut the field in half for the Iowa defense. This time, Greg Mabin stepped up when picked on. Maybe guys like Josey Jewell and Jaleel Johnson will start to become household names outside of Iowa.

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It’s easy to forget things like this because the narrative with Iowa is easy. Every week, somebody noteworthy is going to pick the Hawkeyes to lose because they can’t figure out why they keep winning. They see a team that was embarrassed in its biggest game of the year, which makes them an easy target. I hate to use Davis as the example of this because usually, his takes are on the money.

Still we all should’ve known heading into this one that Iowa is nowhere near the same caliber team as Iowa State right now.

It’s early, but the Hawkeyes look every bit like the team that rattled off 12 straight wins last year. Iowa is no longer just a benefactor of a favorable schedule. The Hawkeyes started as a top-20 team because they are one of the best teams in America, regardless of what division they play in.

Saturday should’ve told us that Iowa isn’t going anywhere. The Hawkeyes might not go 12-0, but they don’t play down to inferior teams’ level anymore. At least not enough to lose.

But don’t be surprised when somebody picks North Dakota State next week.