IOWA CITY, Iowa — The 14th-ranked University of Iowa football team piled up 358 yards and had 17 first downs… in the first half.
It was that kind of afternoon in Kinnick Stadium as the Hawkeyes overwhelmed Middle Tennessee, 48-3, to improve to 4-0 for the first time since 2015.
Iowa scored on its first four possessions (three touchdowns and a field goal) to build a 24-0 lead. The Hawkeyes had a 358-92 advantage in total offense in the first half and finished with 644 yards in the game — the most in head coach Kirk Ferentz‘s tenure.
The Hawkeyes nearly had three 100-yard rushers as they piled up a season-high 351 rushing yards — the fourth-most under Ferentz. Junior Toren Young became Iowa’s first 100-yard rusher of the season, finishing with 131 yards on 11 attempts. Freshman Tyler Goodson had 97 yards on 12 carries, and junior Mekhi Sargent had 91 yards on 14 attempts and a touchdown.
Senior Nate Stanley completed 17-of-25 attempts for 276 yards and two touchdowns, as Iowa finished with 293 passing yards through the air. Junior Brandon Smith had six catches for 71 yards and two touchdowns, junior Ihmir Smith-Marsette had four catches for 60 yards, and redshirt freshman Tyrone Tracy, Jr., had three catches for 85 yards.
For as good as Iowa was offensively, the defense was nearly flawless. The Hawkeyes allowed just 92 yards and five first downs in the first half and 216 yards for the game. Iowa finished with two sacks and five tackles for loss.
Senior Kristian Welch led the charge with nine tackles, while senior Michael Ojemudia and sophomore Daviyon Nixon had seven tackles. Nixon finished with one sack and a career-high 2.5 tackles for loss and Cedrick Lattimore had his first sack of the season.
QUOTING HEAD COACH KIRK FERENTZ
“I am pleased with the way we played today. The guys were focused and ready to go. For the most part, we controlled every phase of the game so that was good to see.
“Some concerns coming into the game, any time you come off a bye week, that’s always something that you’re anxious about, and you never quite have the right answer on that, but I think the guys handled that well, and now playing a nonconference opponent, that also can factor into. Bottom line is I think our guys showed up ready and they competed hard so that was really good to see.
“A couple highlights of the game, I think we were balanced for the most part offensively and saw some good plays from receivers, from our running backs, and that’s a good sign. I’ll throw in Shaun Beyer, the big catch coming out of the end zone. When you see things like that, that’s helpful.
“The other thing is we’re playing clean football right now. Offensively we have done a good job with our ball security, special teams, the same way, and defensively, we are not giving up the big play, which we were victimized by last time we were out there. All-in-all, I am pleased. We have work to do and we’ll tend to that tomorrow. We will take a look at the film and see what we can do, but the whole key and focus is trying to improve week-to-week. The guys took a big step forward and we’re thrilled to be 4-0 at this point and look forward to moving into conference play. We’ll put our attention to that tomorrow night.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
- The Hawkeyes took the opening kickoff and drove 65 yards over nine plays to take a 7-0 lead. Smith-Marsette ran for 14 yards on a reverse to move Iowa into MTSU territory and Stanley connected with Tracy, Jr., for 19 yards on third-and-9 to the 9. Sargent scored two plays later on a 4-yard touchdown run.
- Iowa pushed its lead to 10-0 on its next possession, moving 44 yards over nine plays. Stanley converted a third-and-1 with a 10-yard quarterback sneak, before Young moved the Hawkeyes into Blue Raider territory with a 16-yard run. Two penalties stalled the drive, leading to Keith Duncan’s career-long 49-yard field goal with 4:54 left in the first quarter.
- The Hawkeyes made the score 17-0 with a five-play, 71-yard drive on their third possession. Sargent opened the drive with a 12-yard run to the Iowa 41 before Stanley hit Tracy, Jr., for a 33-yard gain to the MTSU 26. Two plays later, Stanley rolled to his right, throwing on the run, and hit Smith for an 18-yard touchdown with 15 seconds left in the quarter.
- Iowa out-gained Middle Tennessee, 200-26, in the opening quarter and the Hawkeye defense didn’t surrender a first down.
- Iowa found the end zone for a fourth straight possession with a nine-play, 81-yard drive. Young opened the series with rushes of 18, 6, and 15 yards to the MTSU 42. After Stanley was sacked for a 10-yard loss, the senior connected with Smith-Marsette along the Iowa sideline for a 38-yard gain to the 14. Four rushes later, senior Brady Ross scored from 1-yard out, giving the Hawkeyes a 24-0 lead.
- The Hawkeyes stretched their lead to 27-0 on the first drive of the third quarter. Young opened the series with a career-long 52 yard run on first down to go over the 100-yard mark. After Iowa had consecutive drops, Duncan connected from 42-yards out.
- Middle Tennessee broke onto the scoreboard with a 13-play, 49-yard drive on its second series of the third quarter. The Blue Raiders methodically moved down field, converting two first downs, before Iowa held, and Crews Holt connected on a 43-yard field goal, making the score 27-3.
- Iowa found the end zone for the fourth time with a seven-play, 80-yard scoring drive. Stanley hit Smith for 13 yards on third-and-6 before connecting with Tracy, Jr., for a 33-yard gain that included a nifty spin move to the 14. On the next play, Smith-Marsette scored untouched on a reverse, giving Iowa a 34-3 lead.
- The Hawkeyes opened the fourth quarter with an 80-yard scoring drive. Stanley hit Nico Ragaini for 35 yards in the seam to the MTSU 18 and Stanley ended his day with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Smith, making the score 41-3 with 10:01 remaining.
- Iowa surpassed the 600-yard mark on its final drive of the game, a 13-play, 79-yard scoring drive. The series included a heavy dosage of Goodson, who opened the series with a 25-yard run, he caught a 7-yard pass on fourth-down, and he had a 27-yard run to the 3. Three plays later, Petras scored from 1-yard out to make the score 48-3.
- Iowa had 644 yards of total offense, the most in the Ferentz era (previous best was 613 vs. Minnesota in 2005). Iowa’s 351 rushing yards rank fourth in the Ferentz era.
- Senior Nate Stanley made his 30th consecutive start at quarterback. The only other players in school history with 30 or more consecutive starts at quarterback are Chuck Long (47), Matt Sherman (32), and Matt Rodgers (31). Stanly is 21-9 in 30 career starts.
- Stanley improved to 11-0 all-time against nonconference opponents (9-0 in the regular season, 2-0 in bowl games).
- Stanley totaled 275 yards of offense, raising his career total to 6,244, sixth most in school history. He passed C.J. Beathard (5,991) in today’s game.
- Stanley threw two touchdown passes, raising his career total to 60. He has 17 career multi-touchdown games. He is one of three players in school history to throw 60 or more touchdowns (Drew Tate, 61; Chuck Long, 74).
- Keith Duncan kicked a career-long 49-yard field goal on Iowa’s second possession. He connected on a 42-yard attempt in the third quarter. He is 6-for-6 on attempts 40 yards or longer this season. His miss from 39 yards was his first miss of the season. He is 10-for-11 on field goal attempts this season.
- Junior Toren Young rushed for a career-high 131 yards. It is his first career 100-yard rushing game.
- Redshirt freshman Tyrone Tracy, Jr., had a career-high 85 yards receiving.
- Junior Shaun Beyer’s 27-yard reception is a career-long.
- Junior Brandon Smith set career highs in receptions (6), receiving yards (71), and receiving touchdowns (2).
- Freshman Tyler Goodson rushed for a career-high 97 yards on a career-high 12 attempts.
- Three Hawkeyes scored their first career rushing touchdowns: Brady Ross (1), Ihmir Smith-Marsette (14), and Spencer Petras (1).
- Iowa has won 11 straight non-conference games since the 2017 season opener.
- The Hawkeyes are 4-0 for the fifth time under head coach Kirk Ferentz (2003, 2006, 2009, 2015, 2019). Iowa went on to win 10 or more games in 2003, 2009, and 2015.
- The Hawkeyes have scored in every quarter this season (16 quarters).
The Hawkeyes return to action Oct. 5, traveling to the Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for a matchup against the 20th-ranked Wolverines. The game will kick off at 11 a.m. (CT).