Unbeaten Hawks show no rust, take care of Maryland
Final: No. 10 Iowa 31, Maryland 15
Key play: Punt block by Aaron Mends
Iowa led by 14 points at the end of the second quarter and was going to get decent field position after a third-down stop. But Mends blocked the Terps punt, which put Iowa in the red zone and all but guaranteed that it would take a three-possession lead going into the break. Instead of potentially trailing by 14 and getting the ball to start the second half, the Terps dug themselves an even bigger hole on the road by not protecting their punter.
Telling stat: Three different Iowa running backs score first-half touchdowns
Typical Iowa. Oh, Jordan Canzeri is down? Don’t worry. Not one, not two but THREE different Hawkeye tailbacks will reach pay dirt. Austin Blythe and Jordan Walsh cleared the way for a slew of big gainers from the Iowa backfield. LeShun Daniels, Akrum Wadley and Derrick Mitchell Jr. all finished off drives with six points to put Maryland away early. Iowa actually only ran for 3.5 yards per carry in the first half, but when they got deep into Terps territory, they took over. They even ran the ball with Mitchell with nine seconds left in the first half, which gave Iowa a 21-0 lead going into the break. Again, typical Iowa.
-Desmond King continues All-American season
Some guys just have a nose for the ball. There are very few guys in the country that have one like King. You knew against the nation’s most turnover-prone team, it was only a matter of time before King left his mark on the game. He tied the national lead with his seventh interception in the fourth quarter on a ball that Perry Hills never should’ve thrown. At the very least, he should’ve looked. Just for good measure, he returned it 88 yards for a touchdown. Will Likely returned the ensuing kick for a touchdown, that didn’t matter. King did his damage in a big way when the Hawkeyes needed to keep the Terps at a distance.
-Hills has third straight 100-yard game
Rare do you see a non-option quarterback hit the century mark three straight games. Neither Ohio State or Penn State could contain Hills in the open field, and Iowa struggled in the second half, as well. And against a Hawkeye defense that averaged 74 rushing yards per game, Hills’ day was even more impressive. Game flow has prevented Hills from putting away a team with his legs, but he certainly has the potential to do so. If he played as disciplined with his arm as he did with his legs, Maryland would really have something.
-The bye week didn’t heal C.J. Beathard
There was a hope that the banged up Iowa signal-caller would look like his non-conference self when the Hawkeyes returned on Saturday. Well, Beathard was still looked hobbled with the groin/hip injury. He was still effective, but he struggled with the rollout throws he once thrived with. It didn’t help that Yannick Ngakoue was chasing him all afternoon. Iowa can obviously win without Beathard at 100 percent. His immobility limits the capabilities of the Hawkeye offense. A groin injury like the one Beathard has won’t go away as long as he’s still on the field. That won’t hurt them against Maryland or Indiana, but it’s something to keep in mind when Iowa approaches the postseason.
What it means: Iowa is still a top-10 team, Maryland is still too turnover-prone
Iowa wasn’t going to show us anything that we didn’t already know on Saturday. That is, unless you were watching the Hawkeyes for the first time this year. If that was the case, for shame. Iowa just doesn’t make the costly mistakes. That recipe could very well lead the Hawkeyes to a 12-0 regular season. Maryland, on the other hand, makes the most mistakes. Hills forces too many balls downfield when it isn’t there. The same thing that prevented the Terps from pulling out a win against Penn State plagued them in Iowa City. And what’s next for Maryland? Wisconsin, which is the second best scoring defense in the country. Yikes.