Nate Stanley threw a career-high six touchdowns as Iowa trounced Indiana in Bloomington, 42-16. Tight ends Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson each had over 100 yards receiving for the day, the first time Iowa had two receivers topping the century mark since 2011. With the win (and No. 21 Auburn's home loss to Tennessee), Iowa's a virtual lock to enter the Top 25 polls — and the Hawkeyes are one win away from bowl eligibility at 5-1 (2-1).
For the second straight week, the offense came out firing, with touchdowns on its first two possessions. Stanley found Hockenson for a nine-yard score on Iowa's first drive, then Fant stretched to grab this touchdown to add to his preposterous highlight reel:
Stanley's third touchdown may have been his finest, as he shook off an unblocked blitzer to find Nick Easley alone in the end zone to push the lead back to 11:
Iowa kept the lead in double digits for the rest of the game, and two second-half interceptions in the end zone kept the Hoosiers from making the game competitive.
Toren Young led all rushers with 19 carries for 96 yards in the win, and he added an 11-yard touchdown catch on the first drive of the second half. Mekhi Sargent was good in spots as well (80 yards of total offense, 5.9 yards per rush), but Young looks like the classic Iowa workhorse back. He's not doing Shonn Greene things yet, but he's doing Albert Young things, and Albert Young things can move the chains against damn near anybody. More Toren going forward, please and thank you.
We might be witnessing one of the most dangerous offenses of the Kirk Ferentz era.
Iowa's 42 points today give the Hawkeyes 90 over the last two games. That's the largest two-game total since 2002, when Iowa flattened Northwestern and Minnesota for a total of 107 points to end the season. We're not saying this Iowa team is 2002-level good, but the offense has found a new gear—and in consecutive road games, no less.
It was just as good to see the Iowa defense thrive again this week. Freshmen Riley Moss and Julius Brents got the starts at cornerback again this week, even with Michael Ojemudia and Matt Hankins available to play. True to form, Indiana targeted Moss early and often, but even after a 33-yard touchdown by Ty Fryfogle, the Iowa secondary was fine. IU QB Peyton Ramsey has some talent and the Hoosiers did a good job of containing the threat of Iowa's pass rush, and yet still, Ramsey's final numbers — 31-for-42, 263 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 16 points scored by the offense — were only all right. You can live with that against a team that essentially abandons the pursuit of running the ball.
And, not to put too fine a point on it—you can live with it because your offense is swinging chainsaws all over the field. It's abundantly clear at this point that Iowa's two best receivers are tight ends, and you can argue about who's the real #1 between the two. It's like choosing between Jimmy Graham and Dallas Clark. Hockenson had two touchdown catches on the day, and yet his best highlight of the game might be this Pancake From Hell:
WR/TE big blocks are to me what fat guy TDs are to others: pic.twitter.com/7wsCZqJ6jt— Brent Yarina (@BTNBrentYarina) October 13, 2018
The best part is that Iowa has executed a deceptively simple concept: identify your strengths, and play to them. Iowa's tight end corps leads the nation in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns, and that was before Fant and Hockenson combined for eight catches, 208 yards and three TDs on Saturday. With main weapons like these, a rapidly developing WR corps, a competent run game and a coordinator who graduated from the Bill Belichick School of It's Not My Fault If You Can't Stop Me, we might be witnessing one of the most dangerous offenses of the Kirk Ferentz era.
Maryland comes to Kinnick next (I will be there — Iowa City, hello), fresh off of beating the trousers off Rutgers. The Terps are a borderline bowl team and still, somehow, the only team to have beaten Texas this season. So expect a fight. That said, Indiana's also a bowl candidate and Stanley just incinerated their defense, so as long as Iowa prepares well and executes the same, we should be looking at a ranked showdown in Happy Valley in two weeks. Hell yes. Go Iowa Awesome.