Iowa 42, Indiana 16: Here's what we learned

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Nate Stanley threw a career-high six touchdown passes to lead another high-octane performance by the Iowa offense Saturday in a 42-16 victory over Indiana at Memorial Stadium.

Stanley passed for 320 yards and spread the ball around again as the Hawkeyes (5-1, 2-1 Big Ten Conference) won a second consecutive road game.

Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson caught two scoring passes, including a 54-yarder that was the longest of his career. Running back Toren Young had an 11-yard touchdown reception, the first of his career. Even backup fullback Austin Kelly got in on the action, with a 4-yard touchdown catch that was the first time he’d ever found the end zone.

Iowa Hawkeyes tight end Noah Fant (87) reacts to catching a pass for a touchdown in the end zone against the Indiana Hoosiers  during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium.

It was that kind of day for the Hawkeyes.

Iowa started fast again, building a 14-3 lead in the first quarter to take control of the game. Last Saturday, Stanley threw four touchdown passes and Iowa led 14-0 early before handling Minnesota 48-31.

Stanley has exceeded 300 passing yards in three of his last four games.

Indiana (4-3, 1-3) scored a touchdown off of its lone takeaway, but couldn’t keep pace with Iowa even though the Hawkeyes were missing two starting linebackers and a starting cornerback. Backups Kristian Welch, Julius Brents and Riley Moss held up well.

Here’s what we learned:

NOAH FANT IS TOUGH: The biggest question entering the game was whether Iowa’s touchdown leader would be able to play after tight end Noah Fant’s head slammed into the turf late in last Saturday’s win at Minnesota. The answer came on the Hawkeyes’ third play from scrimmage when No. 87 jogged into the huddle … and promptly picked up a 15-yard penalty for blocking a Hoosier downfield before a pass arrived for T.J. Hockenson. No matter. Stanley went to Fant in single coverage late in the first quarter for a perfectly executed 28-yard touchdown. It was the 18th of Fant’s brilliant Iowa career. It was Fant doing Fant things. It was just what Iowa needed. The burly tight end finished with four catches for 101 yards.

MORE:Hockenson, Fant add to Iowa's tight end legacy in beatdown of Indiana

CHAD'S FIRST THOUGHTS:Another dominant, validating Iowa performance

NATE STANLEY IS HARD TO TACKLE: Moments after Iowa kick returner Ihmir Smith-Marsette appeared to make the play of the game, Stanley one-upped him. Fans were still buzzing over Smith-Marsette’s “what was he thinking?” 60-yard return and hurdle when Stanley dropped back to pass. And dropped some more. Indiana linebacker Marcelino Ball appeared to have Stanley in his grasp for a 15-yard loss when the junior quarterback shrugged him off and ran toward the Indiana sideline, finally spotting Nick Easley open in the end zone. His throw on the run traveled 32 yards, and safely into Easley’s clutches. It was Stanley’s third touchdown pass of the game, and he’s never had a better one. On the flip side, Stanley threw an interception for the fourth consecutive game, a troubling trend in which he seems to have one head-scratching decision in each contest. He has said that mental mistakes bother him more than physical ones. But his fantastic athletic plays have far outweighed the occasional miscue so far. Stanley is on a roll in the past four games.

LEISTIKOW:Who are these guys? 5-1 Iowa becoming relentless, ruthless

DEFENSE WITH TIMELY STOPS: Indiana converted only five of its 13 third- and fourth-down attempts against an Iowa defense that was stingy when it needed to be. Two stops in the first half stood out. On third-and-1, Hawkeye defensive end Parker Hesse burst through the middle of the line to stop Indiana quarterback Peyton Ramsey in his tracks for a 4-yard loss that forced a punt. Indiana drove inside Iowa’s 30-yard line on its final possession of the first half with a chance to pull within one score. Facing a fourth-and-1, the Hoosiers passed up a field-goal attempt and Ramsey rolled to his right with plenty of time to find a receiver. Iowa safety Amani Hooker was in perfect position to break up the pass attempt, however, and the Hawkeyes took a 21-10 lead into the locker room. Iowa did a good job keeping the nimble Ramsey in check. He had one 12-yard touchdown run but otherwise was confined to the pocket for most of the game. The Hawkeyes didn’t force a turnover until the fourth quarter, but when they did, the timing was perfect. Safeties Geno Stone and Jake Gervase each intercepted Ramsey in the end zone to snuff out promising Indiana drives. Iowa has six interceptions in its past two  games after getting two in the first four contests.