IOWA CITY, Iowa — This one bucked all the trends in a good way for No. 16 Iowa.
The Hawkeyes blasted in-state rival Iowa State 42-3 at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday. Iowa ended a four-year trend of road success and the Hawkeyes kept the Cy-Hawk Trophy for the second straight year. It was also the first time since 2010 that Iowa has beaten the Cyclones at home.
The game featured little drama with Iowa rolling up 428 yards and not committing a turnover for the second straight game. The Hawkeyes held the Cyclones to just 3 of 15 on third downs.
Here are five things we learned on Saturday:
1. C.J. Beathard tips the field
In a Week One win against Miami (Ohio), Beathard was solid and efficient, especially in the first half when his only incompletion was originally ruled a fumble. Against Iowa State, Beathard yet again showed he is a difference-maker.
In the first half, Beathard was 11-of-14 passing for 153 yards and three touchdowns. Two of his incompletions were throwaways where he didn’t force a bad pass. He rolled right out of a blitz and hit receiver Matt VandeBerg on a 12-yard strike for one of his touchdowns. He progressed through his reads and found running back Akrum Wadley for a 26-yard score. On his first scoring pass, he hit resident touchdown maker tight end George Kittle on a 9-yard touchdown.
2. Anthony Nelson could be a star
In his first five quarters this season (or any season at Iowa), the freshman defensive end produced 3.5 sacks. He put on 33 pounds this offseason and still has a basketball build on his 6-foot-7 frame. He shows a big-time burst off the edge, and he still has three more seasons in Iowa.
3. New center, no problem
Iowa center James Daniels sustained a knee injury in practice this week and did not play Saturday against Iowa State. Sophomore Lucas LeGrand opened the game instead, and the Hawkeyes running game continued to sizzle. Iowa rushed for 5.5 yards per carry. There weren’t any fumbled exchanges, either.
4. Running tandem still strong
LeShun Daniels rushed for 112 yards and Wadley added 49 in a reversal of last week’s 121-yard outing by Wadley and 83-yard effort from Daniels. Both players rushed for touchdowns. While their skill sets are different, they were equally effective once again.
5. Special teams still special
Iowa true freshman kicker Keith Duncan has converted all 12 extra-point attempts this year and punters Ron Coluzzi and Colten Rastetter averaged 43.0 yards per boot. Coverage units were solid and Desmond King averaged 34 yards on kickoff returns.
Iowa’s run defense was suspect against Miami after giving up 158 yards last week. With middle linebacker Josey Jewell returning after an ejection for targeting last week, the Hawkeyes were better at the point of attack and didn’t allow anything beyond 10 yards in the first three quarters.
Iowa has had issues over the years stopping the zone read, a staple of the North Dakota State offensive attack. The Bison are efficient in the running game and won’t be intimidated by the surroundings. North Dakota State has won the last five FCS titles and beaten its last five FBS opponents.
Statistically speaking: 32:08
After losing the time of possession battle last week, the Hawkeyes bounced back to keep the ball for 32 minutes, 8 seconds. Among the many differences was that Iowa took more time to score points this week.
What it means
After a semi-lackluster debut last week, the Hawkeyes erased a few doubts with a blowout of a Big 12 opponent. While other teams suffered inauspicious early losses, Iowa’s offense has averaged 43.5 points in two games. The Hawkeyes should remain in the top 16 of both polls when they complete their non-conference slate next week against North Dakota State (noon ET, ESPN2).
The team usually shows growth in Week 2 and this game was no different. Iowa’s run defense was better, its offense remained crisp and some of the offense’s communication issues were eliminated.