More than good enough: Iowa run game, defense secure victory
The Hawkeyes don’t historically destroy their non-conference opponents.
Well, there was that 51-0 win against Kent State in 2001. And then that 39-7 victory against Kent State in 2004.
Third time has to be a charm. After all, these Hawks are No. 5 in the nation.
Plenty of fans we’re looking for a week to enjoy after Iowa impressed in a 2-0 start against ranked teams.
But that’s not what they got against 2021 Kent State — at least not at first.
The Golden Flashes were lined up at the 1 with 1st-and-goal, ready to make it a 2-point game.
But then that Hawkeyes’ defensive magic arrived, as Kent State fumbled while trying a plunge into the end zone, with the ball lofting through the air and into the always ready hands of Riley Moss for a touchback.
Eleven plays later, Tyler Goodson took it to the house 35 yards and the Hawks’ lead was 16 instead of 2. Goodson, who started with a 46-yard TD scamper, finished with 153 yards and 3 touchdowns — both career highs.
“We do better when he’s going,” Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz told BTN after the game.
Clearly. But it all starts for Iowa on defense.
To say the defense is opportunistic is an understatement. Eight turnovers have led to 44 points this season, and a safety was the first score of the day. (2-0 on the scoreboard elicits a special kind of joy among the Hawkeyes faithful.)
The D wasn’t perfect — Keshunn Abram broke free for big plays, 138 yards and a touchdown — but it was still dominant. (And that’s now 25 games of holding opponents to 25 points or less).
If a 30-7 final doesn’t impress you, you’re not alone.
When Ferentz was asked after the game about being 3-0 and ranked 5th, he responded:
“If anybody’s watching, we’ll probably be 15 this week, based on what I saw.”
Now, perhaps his motives are ulterior — Ferentz doesn’t want that top 5 target on his back — but as ugly as it was early, there were some bright spots.
Chief among them was a 95-yard drive that chewed up most of the last 9 minutes of the half and gave the Hawkeyes a 9-point lead to carry into the locker room instead of 9-7 or 12-7. Quarterback Spencer Petras’ detractors were provided more ammo on this unseasonably warm September day, but he led that 20-play drive and capped it with a 3rd-and-goal strike to Sam LaPorta. (He also has won 9 straight games as a starter.)
There are plenty of games Ferentz would settle for a field goal in that situation — so maybe in the end this was Iowa’s version of running up the score.