Iowa Football

Iowa vs. Rutgers Game Report: Grades, numbers, notes and more

Ihmir Smith-Marsette scored the winning points just minutes into the game

No. 20 Iowa opened Big Ten football play Saturday with a 30-0 win over Rutgers at Kinnick Stadium. Check out our play of the game, grades, noteworth numbers and more in the Game Report

Play of the Game

THE SETUP — You sort of hate to call “play of the game” six plays into the game, but when there’s a shutout, you can pretty much do whatever you want. Technically, one point is the winner.

So, let’s go with Nate Stanley’s 58-yard TD pass to wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette. It capped Iowa’s opening drive and it was a shutout. These were the winning points, just 2:48 into the game.

This drive was going into the end zone one way or another. The Hawkeyes saw just one third down and it was just for a yard. This TD came on a second-and-4 from Iowa’s 42. There was no stress. Iowa opened the game with calm, cool execution.

WHAT HAPPENED — A sub package that offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz has thrown out the first two weeks of the year has included running backs Toren Young and Mekhi Sargent. So, Iowa was in split backs, constraining Rutgers linebackers. They had to stick to the line of scrimmage.

Young and Sargent ran routes to the flat. That helped keep the middle of the field open.

It looked like the Scarlet Knights were in single-safety coverage. When Smith-Marsette broke open, it was way too late for safety help.

The Knights lost the play on the line of scrimmage. No one lined up over Smith-Marsette. He had a free release and was full speed when he passed corner Damon Hayes, who was flat-footed and had no chance.

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THE RESULT — One target into the game, Smith-Marsette was more than halfway to his first 100-yard receiving game. He finished with 113 yards on four receptions. He also caught a 23-yard TD pass in the third quarter. The four receptions and two TDs also tied career highs.

— Marc Morehouse

Grades

Marc Morehouse: B+

Everyone was tall enough to ride the Rutgers.

Mike Hlas: A

So far, the Hawkeyes’ preseason question marks have been replaced by exclamation points.

Jeff Johnson: A-

A-minus: A dominant defensive effort and a solid offensive effort. The kicker made all three of field-goal attempts, and the punter was great. OK, maybe this should have been just a plain A.

By the Numbers

41 — Passing yards for Rutgers. That’s the second fewest Iowa has allowed in a game in the Ferentz era, behind only the 30 given up to Georgia Tech in the 2010 Orange Bowl.

46 — Career-long field goal by Iowa’s Keith Duncan in the second quarter.

61,808 — Attendance at Kinnick Stadium. Not a sellout.

Notes

Stanley threw three touchdown passes to surpass Ricky Stanzi for third place in Iowa history for a career. Stanley has 58 TD throws to Stanzi’s 56. Drew Tate (61) and Chuck Long (74) are the only quarterbacks ahead of Stanley now.

 Cornerback Michael Ojemudia had an interception for the second time in as many weeks for Iowa. He had three picks all last season. Linebacker Djimon Colbert also had an interception in the first half (the first of his career), taking advantage of a fluttering pass by Rutgers QB McLane Carter that was tipped on pressure by Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa.

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 Duncan continues to cement placekicking duties for Iowa. He made all three of field-goal attempts here: 19, 43 and 46 yards. The 46-yarder was a career high. Duncan is perfect through the first two games, making all eight of his extra-point attempts and all four of his field goals.

 Stanley completed passes to 10 different teammates last week in the opener against Miami (Ohio) and spread the football around to eight guys here. That included a key 25-yard screen pass to running back Ivory Kelly-Martin early in the second quarter that gave Iowa a first-and-goal at the Rutgers 7. On the ensuing play, Stanley hit Tyrone Tracy for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead after the extra point.

 Senior Nick Anderson got his very first action for Iowa on special teams. He’s a linebacker from Waukee who played two years at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs. How obscure is this kid? He wasn’t listed on Iowa’s roster in the official game program or on the flip card of two deeps and team rosters provided for the media. He wore number 47, by the way, if you watched the game. Redshirt freshman Monte Pottebaum also saw his first Hawkeye playing time on special teams.

 The same four true freshmen who played against Miami (Ohio) also were the same and only true freshmen to play against Rutgers. They were wide receiver Desmond Hutson, offensive lineman Justin Britt, tight end Sam LaPorta and running back Tyler Goodson. All four could still technically redshirt if they do not get to the five-games played mark.

 Country singer Pat Green and his band performed his song “The Wave” at halftime Saturday. Iowa’s “Wave” to sick children and their families across the street from Kinnick Stadium at the Stead Family Children’s Hospital has become a tradition being feated nation wide.

 Iowa’s honorary captain Saturday was former defensive back Tom Hayes. He enjoyed a 40-year coaching career following his playing days, retiring in 2017. Hayes coached in the National Football League for seven seasons with the Washington Redskins and New Orleans Saints.

 Scouts from the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings were in attendance at Saturday’s game.

Injury Report

Starting free safety Kaevon Merriweather missed Saturday’s game with a sprained foot incurred in Friday’s practice. His spot in the lineup was taken by walk-on Jack Koerner of West Des Moines Dowling.

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Cornerbacks Julius Brents and Riley Moss and tackle Alaric Jackson (sprained knee) also were out and are expected to miss multiple more weeks.

Guard Cole Banwart missed last week’s opener against Miami (Ohio), dressed here but did not play.

Safety Geno Stone appeared to injure a leg making a tackle in the fourth quarter, but did postgame interviews with the media and said he was fine.

Up next

A very anticipated Cy-Hawk rivalry game against Iowa State at Jack Trice Stadium. Kickoff in Ames is scheduled for 3 p.m., and the game once again will be televised by FS1. No. 25 Iowa State (1-0) had this week off after escaping Northern Iowa two weeks ago in triple overtime.

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.