BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The Iowa football team is now one victory from going where no Iowa football team has gone before.
But just barely.
The 10th-ranked Hawkeyes overcame a pesky Indiana squad to win 35-27 on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
The victory improved Iowa’s record to 9-0 overall and 5-0 in the Big Ten. This marks just the second time that Iowa has been 9-0 in the history of the program, which dates back to 1889. The first time came in 2009 when Iowa won its first nine games before losing to Northwestern in the 10th game. Iowa went on to finish 11-2 that season.
Junior quarterback C.J. Beathard also improved his record to 10-0 as Iowa’s starting quarterback. He also started in a victory over Purdue last season.
Both teams were held scoreless in the third quarter, but the quarter ended with Indiana’s offense on the move. The Hoosiers drove to the Iowa 10-yard line, but had to settle for 28-yard field goal by Griffin Oakes, trimming the lead to 21-20 with 13 minutes, 32 seconds left to play. Indiana drove 80 yards on 17 plays to set up the field goal.
The Hawkeyes fired back, though, on their next possession as Beathard led a 75-yard scoring drive. He completed three key passes on the drive, including a 30-yarder to Matt Vandeberg that gave Iowa a first down at the Indiana 3-yard line.
LeShun Daniels then scored on a 1-yard run with 10:07 left to play. Marshall Koehn converted the point-after kick, expanding Iowa’s lead to 28-20.
Beathard kept the drive alive on 3rd-and-11 by completing a 12-yard pass to VandeBerg to the Hoosier 44. Beathard also completed an 11-yard pass to tight end Henry Krieger-Coble, giving Iowa a first down at the Indiana 33.
The Iowa defense then forced Indiana to punt on its next possession.
Iowa was faced with a 3rd-and-10 when Beathard completed a 10-yard pass to tight end Krieger Coble for a first down at midfield.
Daniels then ripped off a 14-yard run on the next play, giving Iowa a first down at the Indiana 36. A 24-yard pass from Beathard to VandeBerg moved the ball to the Indiana 12.
Beathard then rolled out to his left and completed a 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end George Kittle, who leaped over several defenders into the end zone with 6:03 left to play. Koehn converted the point-after kick, giving Iowa a 35-20 lead.
Iowa cornerback Desmond King quelled a Hoosier drive in the fourth quarter by intercepting his eighth pass of the season. The Detroit native tied the school single-season record for interceptions, which was held by Lou King in 1981 and Nile Kinnick in 1939.
Indiana scored another touchdown with 2:24 left to play, trimming the lead to 35-27. The Hoosiers then attempted an onside kick, but Iowa linebacker Travis Perry fielded the kick at the Indiana 49-yard line.
Beathard ran for 11 yards to give Iowa a first down at the Hoosier 37 with slightly more than 1 minute to play. Iowa then ran out the clock to secure its sixth victory in its last seven games against Indiana.
The Hawkeyes were trailing 17-14 with 3:41 left in the second quarter when they took over on offense at their own 35 yard line.
Beathard attempted to throw over the middle to receiver Tevaun Smith on the second play from scrimmage, but Smith couldn’t hold on to the ball after being hit by Indiana linebacker T.J. Simmons.
However, Simmons was penalized 15 yards for targeting and ejected from the game. His penalty gave Iowa a first down at the Indiana 47.
Smith tried to get up after being hit, but then collapsed to the ground. He was examined on the field briefly before being helped to the Iowa bench.
Wadley then ran for 17 yards on second down, giving Iowa a first down at the Hoosier 30. Beathard then completed passes to Kittle and Jacob Hillyer that gained nine and 11 yards, respectively. Hillyer’s catch also came on 3rd-and-9 at the Indiana 18.
Beathard scored two plays later on a 7-yard run in which he leaped into end zone with 17 seconds left before halftime.
Koehn converted the point-after kicking, giving Iowa a 21-17 lead at halftime.
Iowa took the opening kick and scored a touchdown on the second play from scrimmage. Wadley took a handoff from Beathard, scooted through a huge hole and then raced 65 yards for a touchdown.
Indiana answered with 32-yard field goal by Griffin Oakes with 10:09 left in the first quarter.
After forcing the Hoosiers punt, Iowa took over at its own 5-yard line with 3:32 left in the first quarter. The Hawkeyes then drove 95 on 11 plays for their touchdown. Beathard completed five passes for 76 yards on the drive, which was capped by LeShun Daniels scoring from four yards with 12:17 left in the second quarter.
Indiana answered with back-to-back touchdown runs by Jordan Howard that covered 37 and 29 yards, respectively. His 29-yard touchdown run came with 3:52 left in the second quarter. Oakes converted the point-after kick to give Indiana a 17-14 lead.
Howard carried nine times for 116 yards in the first half, while Wadley led Iowa with 97 rushing yards in the first half, also on nine carries.
Iowa had 266 yards in the first two quarters, including 114 passing yards from Beathard. Indiana had 241 yards in the first half.
Smith and defensive back Miles Taylor both left the game in the first half with injuries, but then returned in the second half.
Iowa will look to improve to 10-0 for the first time ever when it faces Minnesota next Saturday in a rare night game at Kinnick Stadium.