C.J. Beathard becomes first Hawkeye since 2011 to earn Big Ten offensive player of the week

Chad Leistikow

C.J. Beathard's shaky beginnings against Iowa State turned into the best game of his college career. And for his performance in Saturday's 31-17 win over the Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium, the Iowa junior quarterback was named co-offensive player of the week in the Big Ten Conference.

Beathard threw for 215 yards and a career-high three touchdowns, but in just his third career start it was his athleticism and legs that might have been the most clutch.

The 6-foot-2, 209-pound native of Franklin, Tenn., made two nimble plays on back-to-back snaps with Iowa trailing, 10-3 in the first quarter, that might have led the way to Iowa grabbing the Cy-Hawk trophy a few hours later.

After an Iowa State punt on fourth-and-1 backed up Iowa to its own 7-yard line, Beathard was sacked in the end zone by Iowa State's Dale Pierson. As Beathard was going down, he arched his back and with his left hand on the ground and right holding the football, reached the ball across the goal line to save a safety. On the next play from Iowa's 1, Beathard rolled out and improvised with this legs, splitting Iowa State defenders for a 44-yard gain. That drive ended with his 14-yard touchdown pass to Tevaun Smith to tie the score at 10. Had he not avoided the safety, it would've been Iowa State holding a 12-3 lead and getting possession.

C.J. Beathard made this athletic play to avoid a safety when things were going poorly for the Hawkeyes at Jack Trice Stadium. He was sacked by Iowa State's Dale Pierson on this play, but extended the ball to the 1-yard line before going down.

"I realized I was a yard deep in the end zone and didn't want to take a safety there," Beathard said afterward. "I did what I could do to get out of the end zone."

Later, Beathard ran for 57 yards (Iowa's longest play of the season) on a designed QB draw, helping Iowa survive a tumultuous first half in which it lost defensive end Drew Ott (left arm) and LeShun Daniels Jr. (right ankle) to game-ending injuries. The Hawkeyes trailed 17-10 at halftime, and Beathard settled in. After starting the game 2-for-7 for 15 yards, Beathard completed 13 of his final 18 tries for 200. His game ending line: 15-for-25 passing for 215 yards and three TDs, plus 77 yards net rushing (he lost 28 on three sacks) on 10 attempts.

Beathard's most important throw was a 48-yard strike to Matt VandeBerg on third-and-21 from Iowa's own 6 in the fourth quarter of a 17-all game. His 25-yard TD pass to Riley McCarron with 2 minutes, 14 seconds left broke the tie.

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“The thing I was most impressed about the way C.J. played was him keeping his poise," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "When you talk to him or see him on the sideline, he never looks any different. He doesn’t get rattled. It’d have been easy to get rattled (Saturday). I’ve seen quarterbacks get rattled in here on our team. So, just really proud of what he did. Just like our team, I thought he grew a lot over the course of the game.”

Beathard shared player of the week honors with Nebraska running back Terrell Newby. The previous Hawkeye to be Big Ten offensive player of the week was Marvin McNutt on Oct. 24, 2011.

The Hawkeyes (2-0) host Pittsburgh (2-0) at 7 p.m. Saturday (Big Ten Network).