Rapid Reaction: Defense dominates as Iowa rolls Iowa State in renewal of Cy-Hawk rivalry
Final Score: No. 10 Iowa 27, No. 9 Iowa State 17
Brief Recap: Fans in Iowa were looking forward to this one for a long time now. After Iowa and Iowa State were not able to play during the madness of 2020, the 2021 edition of the Cy-Hawk rivalry gained increased importance. The fact the two sides were ranked inside the top-10 only added to the hype and intrigue of the Week 2 contest.
For one half of action, the game lived up to its tight billing. Iowa scored the first touchdown after an interception by Matt Hankins flipped field position, but the Cyclones scored just moments before halftime to make it 14-10 at the break. The second half was a different story.
It was the second half when the Hawkeye defense really ramped things up, producing 3 takeaways in the third quarter. One of those takeaways turned into a scoop-and-score while Cyclones QB Brock Purdy was eventually benched after 3 interceptions. In the end, Iowa State was unable to erase a 17-point deficit as the Hawkeyes secured their second top-25 win to open the season.
Key Player: Two players in particular stood out for their contributions to the Hawkeyes. One is defensive back Matt Hankins who recorded two interceptions in the game. His first set up Iowa’s opening touchdown while his second led to a chip-shot field goal in the fourth quarter.
The other player to shine for Iowa was wide receiver Charlie Jones. He caught 2 passes for 36 yards and a touchdown, but his contributions on special teams were especially significant. Jones had 44 yards on kick returns and averaged 16 yards on 4 punt returns. He finished with 108 yards on returns in the win.
Key Moment: With the game at 24-10 late in the third quarter, Iowa State had a chance to cut into the lead and make it a game. A score on that possession would have kept the game close until the closing minutes. That is when Hankins not only picked off Purdy but produced a big return. Hankins ran his second interception back 41 yards to set the Hawkeyes up in field goal range. That kick would push the lead to 27-10 and enough of a cushion for the win.
Key Stat: +4, turnover differential for the Hawkeyes. The story of Saturday’s game really boils down to the turnovers, and Iowa’s takeaways allowed the Hawkeyes to dominate the second half of action.
What it means moving forward: Iowa is 2-0 to start the season after beginning the 2020 season 0-2. Both wins have come in impressive fashion, and expectations in Iowa City should be creeping up for the rest of the season. The Hawkeyes have back-to-back top-25 wins to start the year and have some favorable matchups the rest of the way. Iowa’s next 3 games will come against Kent State, Colorado State, and at Maryland before a visit from Penn State on Oct. 9. As things currently stand, that game is shaping up to be quite the battle.