#18 Iowa 34, #17 Indiana 6: Season Opening Can of Whoop-Ass

By RossWB on September 4, 2021 at 7:05 pm
© Bryon Houlgrave/The Register via Imagn Content Services, LLC

"Iowa's a slow-starting team." 

"This Indiana team is going to be a really tough test."

"How is Iowa's defensive line going to replace Nixon, Golston, and Heflin?"


If you saw this one coming... shut up, you liar. 

Iowa blasted Indiana early and often and turned one of the most anticipated games of the day -- a showdown of preseason Top 20 squads -- into an absolute rout, dumping the Hoosiers 34-6. Revved up by a full (and enthusiastic) Kinnick Stadium crowd -- Iowa launched into the 2021 season like they were shot out of a cannon. 

Four plays into the game, Tyler Goodson took a run around the right edge, hit the sideline, and accelerated into open space -- and, 56 yards later, the end zone. 

Three plays after that, Michael Penix, Jr. threw a short pass into the flats that deflected off his receiver's hands -- and directly into Riley Moss's waiting hands. There was nothing but green grass FieldTurf ahead of Moss and he duly zoomed into the end zone himself to double Iowa's lead. Barely over two minutes into the game and Iowa already had a 14-0 lead. 

Things settled down for a while after that -- both teams traded a few punts and Indiana put together a nine-play, 49-yard drive into the Iowa red zone (one of two trips there they would make all game) -- before Iowa put together an 8-play, 48-yard drive that ended with a Spencer Petras rushing touchdown on a called QB run. 

The rest of the second quarter was a sleepier, punt-filled affair -- until all hell broke loose right before halftime. Tyler Goodson lost a fumble around midfield with just under two minutes to play. But on the very next play Michael Penix, well, did this: 

Yes, that's pick-six number two by Riley Moss. 

Riley Moss: 14
rest of Iowa: 14
Indiana: 3

And then two plays after that second pick-six to Moss, Penix did this: 

Iowa was able to drive into the Indiana red zone on their ensuing drive, but had to settle for a Caleb Shudak field goal after Spencer Petras was sacked. That still made the score 31-3 in favor of Iowa at the break and what had been one of the more anticipated games of the day was instead taking a detour to #BEATEMDOWNVILLE. 

Nothing much changed for Indiana in the second half. Despite Penix's best efforts he didn't manage to throw any more interceptions, but he and the Hoosiers didn't muster anything productive as the Iowa defense locked up them up and threw away the key. Thank you to the Indiana offensive playcalling cards for providing the perfect image to sum up their day: 

iu more like poo u

Mind you, the Iowa offense didn't do anything of note in the second half, either. That's not a huge concern when your'e staked to a 31-3 lead at halftime, but is one of the few sour notes from an otherwise emphatic season-opening victory. 

A few additional thoughts: 

  • Iowa's defense had three interceptions today and could have easily had twice that number. There were three interceptions dropped by Iowa players and another would-be interception (actually caught by Matt Hankins) was nullified by a roughing the passer penalty on John Waggoner. Between film study and strong football instincts, Iowa's defense was all over the Hoosier passing game from start to finish in this one. Phil Parker: still worth every damn penny.
  • The secondary recorded most of the highlight reel plays on defense today, but the fuel behind their turnover fire was the work that Iowa's rebuilt defensive line put in up front. They absolutely mauled their Hoosier counterparts all day long. Zach VanValkenburg, Lukas Van Ness, John Waggoner, Joe Evans, and Noah Shannon treated IU's offensive line like a collection of turnstiles and traffic cones and made Penix's day an absolute living hell. They only recorded one sack, but they were credited with six official QB hurries and no shortage of (unofficial) QB pressure. 
  • There were also some nice moments out of Iowa's linebackers. Seth Benson led Iowa in tackles with 10 and he and Jack Campbell (6 stops) swarmed all over the middle of the field. Jestin Jacobs impressed in limited action, too -- he played like his hair was on fire when he was on the field and he's definitely someone we hope gets additional playing time as the season progresses. You can never have enough explosive, potential game-wreckers on the field on defense. 
  • We've talked a lot about the defense so far because a) they fully deserved it and b) the offense was... present. Week 1 kinks, decent Indiana defense, or the usual middling Iowa offense? We'll need a few more weeks to know for sure, but this was not a flying start by the Iowa offense by any stretch. Iowa finished with 303 yards of offense, with 158 on the ground (led by Tyler Goodson with 99 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries) and 145 through the air, which... 
  • There was a lot of talk this offseason about the strides Spencer Petras had made. He worked with an outside QB guru to improve his mechanics. He immersed himself in film study. He was learning to calm down and make his reads. Through one week, I think it's fair to say that not much of that purported improvement was visible in what we saw on the field. The happy feet? Still there. The overthrows? Still there. The inaccuracy? Still there (13/27 for the game). He avoided turnovers and displayed a nice connection with Sam LaPorta (five catches, 83 yards), but those are the biggest positives to take away from his performance today. Unless the defense is going to chip in with multiple touchdowns each week (and we're very good with that, just to be clear!), Iowa's ceiling this season likely depends on what level of play they get from Petras. This week's effort was not the most encouraging display on that front. Hopefully the weeks ahead produce some better performances. 

But let's not end things on a downer note. There's very little to be really upset or disappointed with when it comes to this game. Iowa took a team ranked in the preseason Top 20 and stuffed them into a locker and gave them wedgies for the better part of three-and-a-half hours. There's no universe in which that isn't an absolute blast. Kinnick was rocking, the Iowa defense was rolling, and the beer was flowing (both inside the stadium and out). College football is back and it's a beautiful thing. A Top 20 #BEATEMDOWN puts a little spring in our step. You might even say it gets us to... 

Go Iowa Awesome, friends. 

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