Another big Iowa win, another Big Ten Player of the Week award for a Hawkeye player. This is a trend we could definitely get used to, frankly. Last week Anthony Nelson and Riley Moss earned honors from the league office; this week it was Nate Stanley's turn. Iowa's junior quarterback earned Co-Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors after his sizzling performance on Saturday.
Stanley shares the award with Northwestern receiver Flynn Nagel, who had 12 receptions for 220 yards and two touchdowns -- that's a pretty good day! Stanley was on fire Saturday, throwing for 330 yards and six (!) touchdowns on 21/33 passing. In case you've forgotten his touchdown passes (you haven't), you can re-watch them all here:
Shrugging off a blitzing defender and throwing a dart touchdown pass is becoming a signature move for Stanley and I am HERE FOR IT. But as fantastic as that play was, I think his best touchdown passes were the first two, where he laid in inch-perfect throws to both T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant. The frustration with Stanley for much of last season (and the early part of this year) was his lack of touch at times, especially on deep balls; he's been much, much better at that over the past few games and the results have been absolutely phenomenal.
The six touchdown passes ties for the second-most touchdown passes in a single game in Iowa history (Chuck Hartlieb holds the record) and is the most thrown by an Iowa QB in the Ferentz Era. Consider this: Stanley threw six touchdowns on Saturday; Iowa threw seven touchdown passes for the entire 2012 season. Stanley has also thrown for 14 touchdown passes in the past four games, which ties Chuck Long (the godfather of Iowa quarterbacks) for the best four-game stretch in program history. He has 15 touchdown passes in his first six games this year, which puts him on pace to topple his already-high total of 26 touchdown passes from a year ago.
Stanley's 330 yards passing was his second-straight 300-passing yard day and third 300-passing yard day of the season. The last time Iowa had back-to-back 300-passing yard games? You have to go back to the 2005 season when Drew Tate threw for 377 yards against Minnesota and followed that up with a 346 yard effort against Florida in the Outback Bowl. (The last time an Iowa QB had at least three 300-passing yard performances in a single season was Jake Rudock in 2014.) Stanley already has four 300-passing yard days in his 19 career starts; by way of comparison to Iowa's other recent multi-year starters, Ricky Stanzi and James Vandenberg each threw for 300+ just once, while Rudock did so three times, and C.J. Beathard never threw for at least 300 passing yards in a game. Tate is the king of 300+ yard games at Iowa under Ferentz; he had seven games with at least 300 yards passing in his three years as a starter, but Stanley could topple that mark if his recent form persists.
This award is the second Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honor Stanley has earned in his Iowa career; he was previously honored after lighting Ohio State's defense on fire last year in Iowa's 55-24 demolition of the Buckeyes. Stanley was also named the Walter Camp Football Offensive Player of the Week after similarly setting IU ablaze on Saturday:
Stanley's not perfect -- he threw a bad interception for the second-straight week that set up an opponent for a quick score -- but if you focus on that over everything else he's doing, you're missing the forest because of an obsession with one or two sickly trees. This is the Stanley that we heard about during offseason practices and at Big Ten Media Days and in the run-up to the season; we didn't see much of this Stanely the first two weeks of the season, but he's been getting better and better since then. The fact that he's been able to string together multiple very strong games in a row is quite encouraging; he had some very good outings last year, only to follow them up with wet fart performances the next week. Consistency was elusive last year, but if he's able to perform at a consistent level to what we've seen over the last few weeks for the final six weeks this year, we're in for one hell of a fun ride. In the meantime, congrats on the well-deserved honor, Nate.