The Iowa Hawkeyes didn't surprise many by defeating FCS opponent Illinois State 31-14 on Saturday afternoon in Kinnick Stadium, but they did surprise many by how they were victorious. Kirk Ferentz and company dominated for a large portion of the day.
The biggest feat of the day came from Phil Parker's defense. Iowa pitched a shutout in the first half, and allowed a whopping total of zero rushing yards. That's a very rare low number for the Redbird offense, who had running back Marshaun Coprich rush for over 2,300 yards last year, in addition to the 1,000-plus rushing yards quarterback Tre Roberson had.
Illinois State's 14 points came after the first team defense was pulled from the game for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa got back to what they do best inside Kinnick Stadium today, pounding the ball on the interior and bouncing it to the outside when necessary. It lead to a powerful running attack that Illinois State had no answer for. Running back LeShun Daniels totaled 123 yards on 26 carries, Canzeri added 28 yards on the ground, and Beathard had 26 rushing yards of his own It was over 200 yards on the ground total for the Hawkeyes, and three scores.
Through the air, Beathard was potent as well. He converted 15 of his 24 passes for 211 yards and another touchdown. His busiest target was Matt VandeBerg who hauled in six receptions for 59 yards and a score. The most receiving yards came from Jordan Canzeri, who added 90 yards receiving, and got two considerable chunks of it on a screen pass and a shovel pass. Tevaun Smith deserves mention, too, as he sprung multiple explosive plays from the Hawkeye offense just with his blocking, extending two plays in particular an additional 20 yards.
Defensively, it was a great collective effort. They stifled the Illinois State rushing attack, but they also limited their effectiveness through the air. The star of the secondary was Greg Mabin, who really set the tone early on by popping a few of the Redbird offensive players in the flat. One was a swing pass to the running back, and another was Coprich trying to bounce a carry outside. Mabin negated both plays, and did it with some flare. Each came on the first possession. Safety Jordan Lomax also supplied some heavy hitting for Iowa.
The linebackers had a lot to do with the run defense being so stout today. On several occasions Cole Fisher and Ben Niemann shot through the gaps that had been opened by the offensive line. They really played a sound, fundamental game.
The defensive line was a wrecking crew. They lived in the backfield for the Hawkeyes, especially Drew Ott. He was only credited with two sacks on the day, but he created three or four others. You can't be much more unblockable than he was. It was a matchup I thought they could manhandle since it was the Illinois State left tackle Dan Pawlak's first start. And manhandle him Drew Ott did.
Cole Fisher lead the team with eight tackles, Ben Niemann lead the way with two and a half tackles for loss, while Drew Ott lead the way with two sacks. One sack apiece was recorded by Nate Meier, Ben Niemann, and Parker Hesse.
The Hawkeyes will now enjoy the win today, and begin preparing for their archrival Iowa State tomorrow.