Iowa football: Grading the Hawkeyes after their win over Northern Iowa
Iowa finished its nonconference schedule with a 3-0 record and lots of good things to show on film after Saturday’s 38-14 win over Northern Iowa.
It’s not supposed to be a difficult game against an average Group of 5 team, and it wasn’t, so now it’s time to move on to the Big Ten schedule and a huge showdown with Wisconsin Saturday night in Iowa City.
Here’s what I liked — and didn’t like — in Saturday’s game with Northern Iowa:
Things I like
- Nate Stanley finally finds his way at QB: After posting pedestrian numbers in Iowa’s first two games, Stanley threw for 309 yards against Northern Iowa — and looked good doing it. Showing improvement, that’s what you want to see, and that’s what Stanley gave us heading into the Big Ten season.
- Defense continues to totally dominate: The 38-14 scored is deceiving because when the Iowa starting defense left the field, there was still a zero on the scoreboard for Northern Iowa. They’ve been incredibly good in three games, allowing only 10 points as a group through 10-plus quarters of action on the field. Now comes Wisconsin, and it sure looks like the Iowa defense is ready for the challenge.
- Big-play potential starts to emerge: Wide receiver Nick Easley had 10 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown and tight end Noah Fant had another 99 yards of receiving yards and a score himself. Running backs Toren Young and Mehki Stewart rushed for 154 yards combined on 29 carries. Playmakers are starting to emerge, and that’s a good thing.
Things I don’t like
- Nonconference schedule didn’t tell us enough: Sure, Iowa is 3-0, but all three wins were at home and, outside of Iowa State, nothing should have been too daunting. It hasn’t been. What we know after three weeks is that the defense looks great and the offense is coming. What will any of it matter when the Big Ten season opens Saturday night against Wisconsin.
- Running game still not overpowering: I’m not betting the farm on this just yet, but I’m still not 100 percent sold that the Hawkeyes can dominate games on the ground during the Big Ten season. We’ll find out soon enough against Wisconsin’s tough defense, but at least BYU showed us a little something Saturday in breaking a few runs against the Badgers.