Hawkeyes shut out Rutgers
By LUKE MEREDITH
AP Sports Writer
IOWA CITY — Iowa made Rutgers’ first trip to Iowa City as miserable as possible.
Senior Nate Stanley had 236 yards passing and three touchdowns and No. 20 Iowa rolled past Rutgers 30-0 Saturday in its Big Ten opener, notching its third shutout in its last seven league games.
The Hawkeyes look like they’re ready for a visit to No. 25 Iowa State next week in a much-hyped rivalry.
New Jersey native Ihmir Smith-Marsette caught two TD passes for the Hawkeyes (2-0, 1-0 Big Ten), who’ve allowed just 14 points through two games.
“I thought it was really decisive performance,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It was hard-earned out there.”
Stanley found Smith-Marsette and Tyrone Tracy for first-half touchdowns to help Iowa take a 20-0 lead at the break. Stanley then connected with Smith-Marsette from 23 yards out to make it 27-0.
Smith-Marsette finished with 113 yards receiving. Stanley had at least three TD passes for the 10th time with the Hawkeyes. Iowa is 10-0 in those games.
“I feel very poised, and my teammates have my back no matter what,” Stanley said.
Rutgers (1-1, 0-1) scored 48 points in its opener over UMass, but the Scarlet Knights gained just 125 yards, punted 10 times and turned it over three times. They also threw for just 41 yards, the second-lowest total against Iowa in Ferentz’s 21 seasons in charge.
“This game is not going to define our football team or our season,” Rutgers coach Chris Ash said. “They are hungry to get back to work.”
Iowa: Rutgers has yet to beat a ranked league opponent since joining the Big Ten in 2014, so it’s not as though the Hawkeyes faced a ton of resistance. Still, Iowa’s defense crippled the Scarlet Knights from their opening drive, and the 97-yard touchdown drive the Hawkeyes put together in the second quarter was a good sign for their surging offense.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights thought they had found their quarterback when McLane Carter threw for 340 yards last week. But Rutgers made the switch back to Artur Sitkowski at halftime after Carter threw for just 22 yards — only to watch Sitkowski throw for 19 in 11 attempts. Ash said Carter suffered an unspecified injury at the end of the half. “We have the bye week to sort it out,” Ash said.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Iowa opened the scoring when Stanley threw one of the best balls of his career for a 58-yard touchdown to Smith-Marsette. “I think I was moving pretty quick,” Smith-Marsette said.
Rutgers had the Hawkeyes briefly flummoxed when they pinned them inside their own 11-yard line on four consecutive drives, but Iowa finished the last of those 97 yards later in the Rutgers end zone. Stanley found Tracy, a freshman, wide open near the back pylon for his first career TD grab from 7 yards out.
Keith Duncan hit field goals of 46 and 19 yards to make it 20-0 Iowa at halftime.
The Hawkeyes would’ve likely scored a lot more than 30 points had Scarlet Knights punter Adam Korsak not dropped four different kicks inside Iowa’s own 3-yard line.
“That’s what Adam is. He’s a really good punter who gave us great field position,” Ash said.
It’s too early to tell how much of Rutgers’ struggles can be pinned on its attack or Iowa’s defense. Nonetheless, this was one of the best performances defensive coordinator Phil Parker’s unit put together. Iowa allowed just five first downs and let Rutgers convert only twice on 14 third downs. “It was a collective effort,” Ferentz said.
Co-starters Toren Young and Mekhi Sargent each ran for 59 yards for Iowa. But true freshman Tyler Goodson stood out for the second game in a row, picking up 53 yards on 10 carries. …Isaih Pacheco and Raheem Blackshear combined for 72 yards rushing for Rutgers. …The Scarlet Knights didn’t reach the red zone.
Iowa could move up a few spots after thoroughly dominating a conference opponent.
The Hawkeyes travel to face rival Iowa State next week.
Rutgers has a bye next week. The Scarlet Knights host Boston College on Sept. 21.