Five Stars of the Game: Iowa Vs. Minnesota

By Jeremy Karll on October 29, 2017 at 3:00 pm
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© Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

In desperate need of a win, Iowa's defense held Minnesota in check and the offense did just enough. The offense benefited from some big plays, while the defense got to the quarterback in the second half and shut down the passing game.

Nate Stanley: 15/27, 190 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception

After a rough second half against Northwestern, Nate Stanley bounced back quickly to lead Iowa on an 80-yard touchdown drive to start the game. He completed passes of 22 and 25 yards to T.J. Hockenson and Nick Easley, respectively, on the first two plays of the game. He also showed better accuracy on deep passes, including his 45-yard touchdown connection with Noah Fant on Iowa's first drive of the second half. Even Stanley's lone interception, which bounced off Ihmir Smith-Marsette into Jacob Huff's arms, was a nicely thrown ball. Fewer drops would have pushed Stanley over 200 yards and possibly led to a couple more scores.

Noah Fant: 3 receptions, 67 yards, 1 touchdown

Everything about Noah Fant's game was great on Saturday. He put last week's disappointing end behind him and had one of his best games of the season. On his career-long 45-yard touchdown reception, he easily ran past his defender, beating him by at least five yards as he walked into the end zone. He celebrated his team-leading fifth touchdown of the season by mocking P.J. Fleck. He also led the team with 67 receiving yards. 

Joshua Jackson: 3 tackles, 4 passes defended

Demry Croft, who completed 9-of-29 passes, continued to go after Joshua Jackson. And just like all season, it didn't work.

Jackson now leads the nation in pass breakups (15) and total passes defended (17). His four pass breakups this week were more than Minnesota had as a team (3) and more than the rest of Iowa's defense (3). One of his tipped passes ended up being intercepted (by Jake Gervase), as well. Right now, Jackson is playing as well as any corner in the nation. And with Matt VandeBerg returning punts now, it's hard to find any complaints about his game this week.

Jake Gervase: 8 tackles, 1 pass defended, 1 interception

Jake Gervase started his second straight game as Brandon Snyder continues to heal a knee sprain. He had a career-high eight tackles and intercepted his first career pass, which came off a Jackson deflection. He almost had a late hit on a sliding Croft, but the refs ended up picking up the flag, which was the right call. Better to not even take the chance next time, though. However, considering Gervase's struggles to start the season, his play over the past two weeks have been a pleasant surprise. If Snyder doesn't play against Ohio State, Iowa can't afford Gervase to regress.

Parker Hesse led the team with two tackles for loss and had one of Iowa's four sacks on the night, being part of a sack for a second straight week. Both of his tackles for loss came on back-to-back plays early in the second half to force a Minnesota punt. However, Iowa's biggest sack of the night came on Minnesota's final play when Anthony Nelson took down Croft to seal the game -- three of Iowa's four sacks came in the second half.

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