Three cool things:
1. This was a surprise night game. I mean, Iowa and Iowa State? At night? In Kinnick? The last time that went down, the guy who wrote “The Walking Dead” came up with this idea for a story about zombies.
Night games kind of turn game stories into play-by-play. That’s not what you’re shooting for, but deadline doesn’t move. It’s like the only thing in life anymore without a soft landing.
So, you’ll probably notice I didn’t write a lot about WR Matt VandeBerg proposing to his now-wife Laura. That happened after the game. You dive into interviews and then try to sprint back up and fill the newspaper for the next day.
So, let’s fix that. (Story below)
2. This was Matt Campbell’s first entry into the Cy-Hawk series. Iowa State people will correct me if I’m wrong — and I don’t cover ISU, so I’m just kind of Cliffs Notes-ing this — but it feels like Campbell wants the Cyclones to be the Big 12 team that plays a line-of-scrimmage game.
It feels like line of scrimmage is important to Campbell’s philosophy. In this game, he probably learned a little bit about that. The Cyclones were a little gummy on both lines of scrimmage.
After this 42-3 sleepwalk, it took everything Iowa had last season to win 44-41 in overtime at Ames.
I’d favor Iowa by one score for this fall’s game at Kinnick.
3. After two games in 2016, you kind of thought maybe the Hawkeyes’ offense was off to the races. Game 1 was a 45-21 win over Miami (Ohio) and this one over ISU.
In the next 11 games, Iowa hit 40 points just two more times. VandeBerg’s foot injury was kind of the Ike Boettger and Boone Myers injuries in 2017. VandeBerg caught 65 passes as a sophomore and then was out for the season after four games in 2016.
Iowa went on to have its worst passing offense since 1982. Injuries to key Iowa wide receivers might hurt the Hawkeyes more than key O-linemen missing time.
Quote: Gazette columnist Mike Hlas tracked the proposal story and wrote:
Would VandeBerg have proposed had the Hawkeyes lost?
“I don’t have to answer that,” he said with a wry grin.
“I’d kind of hope not,” Bulanda said when asked the same question.
Note: I don’t remember the Kinnick arrest report after this one being a national joke on the internet, so maybe there could be another Iowa-Iowa State night game.
Why No. 72? — If I worked for Stats Inc., I’d be able to tell you Kirk Ferentz’s record against first-year coaches. I do know that Ferentz was 1-1 vs. new Big Ten coaches last season (win over Minnesota and P.J. Fleck, and an L against Jeff Brohm and Purdue).
PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF THE GAME
Game story from 2016
IOWA CITY — The lights blazed Saturday night at Kinnick Stadium. It really was a gorgeous setting for the first Cy-Hawk game under the lights here since 2002, one of those nights you write songs about.
Kinnick provided a stage for performers to perform. C.J. Beathard, simply put, is a performer.
Iowa’s offense was in tune all night. The No. 10 Hawkeyes (2-0) scored four touchdowns in their first five drives, including three TD passes from Beathard, and ran away from Iowa State (0-2), 42-3, before 70,585 fans. It was the biggest victory in the series since Iowa won 63-20 at Ames in 1997.
Last month, Beathard’s brother Tucker, a country music star, lit up Kinnick under the lights. C.J. answered that and then some with a picture-perfect night.
Beathard’s night ended after one drive in the fourth quarter. He finished 19 of 28 for 235 yards and three TDs. But really, Beathard and the Hawkeyes turned out the lights in the first half.
After a sleepy first possession, Beathard and VandeBerg hooked up for a 25-yard gain on a second-and-9. Three plays later, Beathard fed tight end George Kittle a 9-yard TD pass for a 7-0 lead.
One of three personal foul penalties called against the Cyclones helped move the Hawkeyes’ next drive. Linebacker Kane Seeley was called for a late hit on running back Akrum Wadley, who, on the next play, ran wide open out of the backfield and Beathard delivered an easy 26-yard score for a 14-0 lead.
The Cyclones had a first-and-goal from Iowa’s 7 after a 30-yard pass from QB Joel Lanning to wide receiver Allen Lazard. The drive stalled with help from back-to-back sacks from defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson and defensive end Anthnoy Nelson. Cole Netten put ISU on the board with a 31-yard field goal.
On first down on the next drive, VandeBerg took a reverse for a 25-yard gain to Iowa State’s 41. He would finish this drive with his prettiest play.
On a second-and-10 from ISU’s 12, Beathard had a ton of time to throw and found VandeBerg crossing through the back of the end zone late in the play. Beathard put one of those passes that only his guy could touch. With ISU defensive back D’Andre Payne’s back turned, VandeBerg turned and stabbed the ball out of the air with both hands for the TD, giving the Hawkeyes a 21-3 lead with 10:15 left in the second quarter.
The Cyclones were called for a pair of personal fouls on Iowa’s next drive (through early in the fourth quarter, the Cyclones had nine penalties for 68 yards. No, that did not help).
Those bailouts were cashed in two plays later, when Beathard pushed a QB sneak across the goal line from the 1. Iowa capped the half when defensive end Matt Nelson collected a sack on the final play and the Hawkeyes literally ran up the tunnel with a 28-3 halftime lead.
Beathard’s half went 11 of 14 for 153 yards and three TDs. That’s a pass efficiency of 241.08. That’s a good number. You can work with that.
VandeBerg’s first half went five catches for 89 yards and the TD. He added 25 yards on the reverse. VandeBerg kept that rolling in the second half and had seven catches for 129 yards through three quarters.
The Cyclones were woozy. The knockout blows came from the Hawkeyes in the third quarter.
Running back Akrum Wadley scored from 3 yards for a 35-3 lead with 3:18 left in the third. After outside linebacker Ben Niemann picked off Lanning, running back LeShun Daniels broke a cutback run for a 43-yard TD and a 42-3 lead at 1:33 in the third. With the rush, Daniels had 112 yards on 15 carries, his third career 100-yard game. The Hawkeyes had 7.3 yards on 54 plays at this point.
Iowa went into the game without starting center James Daniels, who suffered an injury during the week. He was replaced by sophomore Lucas LeGrand. LeGrand had a bad snap in the first half that caused a false start. Referee Mike Defee kind of called him out on this, saying over the stadium mic for all to hear, “False start on everybody but the center.”
Ouch, man. Harsh. But, you know, that was about the worst thing that happened to the Hawkeyes under the lights Saturday night.
Matt VandeBerg proposal story from 2016
VandeBerg’s big night
By now you know all about Iowa wide receiver Matt VandeBerg’s marriage proposal to his girlfriend Laura Bulanda. It happened after the No. 11 Hawkeyes’ 42-3 victory over Iowa State.
Iowa wide receivers coach Bobby Kennedy has made it a practice for the receivers to take a group photo after victories. VandeBerg, in cleats and full gear, sprinted down the tunnel with a few other receivers. VandeBerg caught seven passes Saturday night.
He took one knee.
You also know that Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard has a poet’s heart somewhere under his shoulder pads. His dad, Casey, writes songs for a living. His brother Tucker is an up-and-coming country music singer/songwriter.
VandeBerg broke the news to teammates before the game. Beathard thought he’d help out his favorite receiver (they’ve connected 76 times in 16 games).
“I told him, ‘Yeah OK, I’ll throw you a few extra balls to make sure she says yes,’” Beathard said Tuesday with a laugh.
Do you think that’s a young age to get married?
“It depends really,” Beathard said. “If you’re in love, you’re in love. Clearly, they’re in love. I’m happy for him.”