No. 19 Iowa 30, Rutgers 0: What we learned

Dargan Southard
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — A contingency of Rutgers red planted itself in the top left corner of Kinnick Stadium. The Scarlet Knights’ inaugural visit to Iowa City gave New Jersey’s own a chance to cross off another Big Ten Conference venue.

Heads were in hands by halftime — dejection evident everywhere. Another Saturday trouncing had commenced, the Hawkeyes showed no mercy.

Iowa hit a big play early, pieced together three more first-half scoring drives despite poor field position and slammed the door after intermission. The final result — a 30-0 shellacking — has Iowa (2-0, 1-0 Big Ten Conference) off to a solid start in conference play.

Iowa wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette (6) gets embraced by teammates Mekhi Sargent (10) and Nate Stanley (4) after catching a touchdown pass during a NCAA Big Ten Conference football game against Rutgers, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

It became clear early these two teams operate on different spectrums. Iowa’s fifth play of the day — a 58-yard touchdown pass to New Jersey native Ihmir Smith-Marsette — accounted for more yardage than Rutgers (1-1, 0-1) accumulated the entire first half. Two Keith Duncan field goals and Tyrone Tracy’s first-career touchdown grab gave the Hawkeyes a comfortable 20-0 halftime lead.

Rutgers changed quarterbacks to start the third quarter. Not much changed. Iowa’s suffocating defense brought relentless pressure all afternoon. The Scarlet Knights finished with a measly 125 total yards. 

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Smith-Marsette stole the show against his hometown squad, going for a career-high 113 receiving yards on four catches. It’s the first time Iowa had a 100-yard game from a wide receiver in a conference game since Riley McCarron against Nebraska on Nov. 25, 2016.

Smith-Marsette out-scored the Scarlet Knights and out-gained them until late in the fourth quarter. But he wasn’t the only wide receiver to show out.

Two significant catches from Tyrone Tracy Jr. made for a solid Big Ten opener. He hauled in his first touchdown on a 7-yard grab midway through the second quarter, then snagged a 33-yard grab in the third that set up Smith-Marsette’s second touchdown.

Tracy’s scoring grab moved quarterback Nate Stanley past Ricky Stanzi for third all-time in Iowa career touchdown passes. Stanley sits at 58 — 16 behind program leader Chuck Long.

With Alaric Jackson out, the shuffling continues up front. 

Staying true to his word earlier in the week, Kirk Ferentz kept the parts moving on the offensive line.

Left to right, Iowa opened with what its depth chart reflected: Tristan Wirfs (left tackle), Landan Paulsen (left guard), Tyler Linderbaum (center), Kyler Schott (right guard) and Levi Paulsen (right tackle). But the Hawkeyes were shuffling soon enough.

Mark Kallenberger entered at left tackle on the second series, flipping Wirfs back to his natural right tackle position. Redshirt freshman Cody Ince also saw significant action at left guard. With him in, Landan Paulsen and Schott split time at right guard. True freshman Justin Britt saw the field late.

Although he dressed, Iowa opted to keep Cole Banwart (foot) out another week. Expect him to get back in the rotation next week at Iowa State.

There's a reason Keith Duncan won the kicking job. 

Iowa’s kicking competition raged right up until the opener, but Saturday’s performance seemed to solidify why Keith Duncan won the job. He banged home field goals of 46, 19 and 43 yards — the first of which set a career-high.

There were no pressure kicks, given the outcome. However, Duncan’s reliability will likely prove vital at some point this year.                

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.