At the start of each week, Land of 10 will break down the postseason implications, and projections, to come out of the Iowa Hawkeyes’ latest contest …
What happened: The Hawkeyes (3-0) rallied past North Texas, 31-14, to finish a nonconference portion of the slate unbeaten for the second time in three seasons. Penalties, injuries and general wackiness made for a hairier pre-league finale than the locals had hoped, as Iowa had to claw back from a 14-10 halftime deficit to put away the Mean Green. Show of hands if you thought Nate Stanley would enter Big Ten play with more passing touchdowns (10) than Penn State’s Trace McSorley (9).
What it means: There’s more depth at tailback than we thought, apparently. With injuries dogging star runners Akrum Wadley (104 total yards) and James Butler (74 rushing yards), freshman Ivory Kelly-Martin (2 rushing scores) became the first Hawkeyes frosh since 2010 to run for 2 touchdowns in a game while freshman Toren Young rambled for 78 yards on 19 carries. All Stanley does is throw touchdowns, and big Noah Fant (23-yard touchdown catch) dragged half of Denton, Texas, with him for a crucial third-quarter score. The defense pitched a second-half shutout, but it also got gashed for a 41-yard touchdown run and a 41-yard reception — a couple of Phil Parker no-nos.
Projected record: Massey Ratings — 8-4; TeamRankings.com — 7-5
Projected postseason destination: Holiday Bowl, Dec. 28, San Diego, vs. a Pac-12 opponent.
Cheapest seat at TicketCity.com as of Sunday: $106
Up next: vs. Penn State on Saturday in Iowa City in the Big Ten opener for both schools. The Nittany Lions (3-0) haven’t missed a beat since a wild Rose Bowl loss in January, only now coach James Franklin seems to have found a defense (273.7 yards allowed per game) to go with his already explosive trio of tailback Saquon Barkley (8.1 yards per carry), gunslinger McSorley 184.1 pass efficiency rating) and tight end Mike Gesicki (4 scores). The Hawkeyes proved in Ames that they could hang in a back-and-forth offensive showdown — but the Lions are bringing in the Big Ten’s version of the St. Louis Rams during the salad days of The Greatest Show on Turf. Iowa’s best defense is to keep Barkley and McSorley on the sideline, and the best way to do that is if Wadley and Butler are hammering away at 100 percent. Or close to it.