IOWA CITY — They out-Marylanded Maryland.
In the 30-mile-per-hour wind tunnel Saturday known as Kinnick Stadium, you knew rushing the football was going to be important. It was the Iowa Hawkeyes who did it way better than an opponent known for its prowess on the ground.
No. 22 Iowa piled up a season-high 224 rushing yards, despite not having any rusher hit the century mark. Ivory Kelly-Martin came oh, so close with 98.
“We knew going into it that weather was kind of going to be an issue,” said Iowa center Keegan Render. “So going out there and grinding out yardage and grinding out some drives was big for us.”
The Hawkeyes grinded out the mother of all drives on their second possession, hogging the football for nine minutes and four seconds. It was a 17-play, 72-yard opus consisting of 11 rushes, five passes and a 23-yard Miguel Recinos field goal.
Only getting a field goal was disappointing, but that was the only thing disappointing.
“It was nice to go out there and control the clock, control the ball,” said Iowa guard Ross Reynolds. “But it doesn’t just happen because of the o-line. It’s the backs, it’s the tight ends, it’s everybody doing their job.”
“I mean, that’s just a long time,” said Maryland linebacker Tre Watson. “Those plays just wear on you.”
Iowa’s time of possession advantage was borderline ludicrous. It had the ball for 40:55 to Maryland’s 19:05, running 76 plays to Maryland’s 39.
Certainly the Hawkeyes defense played a large role in that spread, but not all of it.
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“Our (offensive) plan got cut in half,” said Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz. “There a lot of things we thought would be OK, you kind of toss them out. The biggest thing today, just throwing the ball down the field, that would have been reckless and probably stupid.”
Kelly-Martin returned to the starting lineup after missing last week’s game at Indiana with what was believed to be a concussion. He had the lion’s share of the carries (24).
Iowa ran the ball outside with stretch plays and one Ihmir Smith-Marsette jet sweep. It pounded it inside repeatedly.
Nate Stanley even converted a first down with a 13-yard run off a quarterback draw. A week after throwing six touchdown passes, he threw for only 86 yards here.
That’s where this offense seems to be right now for Iowa. It can produce through the air or on the ground.
The line of Reynolds, Render, Alaric Jackson, Tristan Wirfs, Dalton Ferguson and Cole Banwart is opening holes and keeping Stanley clean and upright in the pocket. A lot of good things going on.
“There’s definitely still stuff we need to clean up,” Reynolds said. “There will be stuff we’ll see on film that we can better on. Yeah, the stats and stuff might look good, but there is always room for improvement.”
“Each week, we emphasize getting better, and the coaches do a good job of that,” Kelly-Martin said. “It is just having a championship-level attitude. We can’t be as good as we were the week before. We have to keep improving and do everything we can to play at that championship level.”
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