The 22nd ranked Iowa Hawkeyes used a potent ground attack and a stifling defense to dispatch the Northern Iowa Panthers 41-7 on Saturday in front of more than 70,000 football starved fans in Kinnick Stadium.
Brinson led all rushers with 91 yards, while Robinson had 78 and O'Meara 52. Brinson put Iowa in the scoring column early with a 31 yard scamper on Iowa's first drive of the day, a cut-back run through daylight. He was sprung by an excellent downfield block by senior receiver Trey Stross.
Iowa's defense forced UNI to a three and out on the Panthers first possession, and the Hawkeyes took over at their own 41 yard line. Two plays later, Rick Stanzi connected with senior tight end Tony Moeaki for a 21-yard completion in the right flat that set up a Stanzi to Keenan Davis scoring strike from the Panther 17 yard line. It was Davis' first career reception, and first touchdown as an Iowa Hawkeye.
Iowa's defense got in on the action on the following possession as Panther quarterback Patrick Grace was intercepted by Hawkeye cornerback Amari Spievey on a busted wide receiver screen attempt. Spievey scampered 35 yards for the score and the Hawkeyes were up 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.
The Hawkeyes put up 415 yards of offense on the day, as Stanzi was an effective 12 of 16 for 170 yards and three touchdown passes to zero interceptions. James Vandenberg came in to relief Stanzi early in the fourth quarter and completed 3 of 6 passes for the first action of his Hawkeye career.
While the Hawkeye offense was having its way, the defense was dominant from the first snap. In addition to the first two drives, Iowa forced UNI to go three and out on six of their 11 possessions for the game. Grace, a senior and one of the best quarterbacks in the FCS level, was hounded and pressured all day long. Iowa recorded five sacks on the day, with Broderick Binns leading the way with two. Binns also recorded two additional tackles for loss. Adrian Clayborn, Christian Ballard and Karl Klug each recorded one sack apiece, with Ballard netting three total tackles for loss from his defensive tackle position.
Pat Angerer led all tacklers with nine, six of them solos. Angerer and safety Tyler Sash continued to show a nose for the ball, as each of them recorded an interception as Grace was picked off three times in all.
Punter Ryan Donahue, who was named to the Ray Guy watch list in early August, didn't face much pressure in this game, but he showed power and finesse. When two Iowa drives stalled just across midfield, Donahue pinned the Panthers inside their 20 yard line on both instances. He also boomed a 69 yard punt after a center-quarterback exchange fumble put Iowa in a third and long situation they did not convert in the first half.
Placekicker Daniel Murray was 2 of 2 on the day; one from 34 yards and the second from 42.
With the win, Iowa moved up two positions to #20 in the Associated Press poll as they begin preparations for the Iowa State Cyclones in Ames.
INJURY NOTE: Jewell Hampton was unable to play this game due to lingering problems from his knee injury suffered during the summer. Head Coach Kirk Ferentz was noncommittal after the game as to whether or not Hampton would be redshirted for the 2009 season.
Coming Wednesday: The Iowa-ISU projection