By Tyler Devine
IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Iowa football team knew it had a challenge to face in Indiana quarterback Michael Penix in Saturday’s season opener in Kinnick Stadium.
To say the No. 18 Hawkeyes stood up to the challenge would be an understatement as they rolled the 17th-ranked Hoosiers 34-6. Iowa has won seven consecutive games dating back to last season and has allowed 12.7 points per game during the streak.
Iowa got a huge boost from senior defensive back Riley Moss, who became the first Iowa player to return two interceptions for touchdowns since Josh Jackson did so against Wisconsin in 2017.
Moss’ first interception came on Indiana’s first drive. Penix attempted to throw a screen pass to his left, but it bounced off the receiver’s hands and Moss was right there to take it 30 yards untouched to put Iowa up 14-0.
“He threw the ball, I was ready to break on it and tackle him, and then I see the ball pop up and I got super excited,” Moss said. “I was foaming from the mouth, caught the ball and took off quick. It happened quick and I didn’t realize I scored a touchdown until I was on the bench and I was like ‘holy cow that just happened’.”
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The Hawkeyes held the Hoosiers to 233 total yards, including 77 rushing yards on 31 attempts. Iowa also held Indiana to 6-for-18 on third-down attempts.
Iowa now has played 23 consecutive games without allowing the opposing team to score 25 points or more.
Junior defensive back Dane Belton picked off Penix with 1:12 left in the first half which set up a 41-yard Caleb Shudak field goal to put the Hawkeyes up 31-3. It was the first interception of Belton’s career.
Penix threw an interception to Iowa senior defensive back Matt Hankins in the third quarter, but it was called back by a roughing the passer penalty.
Penix was the Big Ten’s leading passer through six games last season before suffering a season-ending ACL injury against Maryland.
“We’re veteran back there,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I’m not going to say we expected that, but that really helps us if our veterans play like that. A big part of it, too, was the guys up front getting pressure. It’s not always about sacks, but if you can keep a quarterback a little uncomfortable that factors in, too. It seemed like we were playing pretty cohesively.”
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Iowa’s defensive line was disruptive and forced Penix to hurry throws. Iowa also rotated at least eight players in and out on the defensive line which had six quarterback hurries as a unit.
The defensive line also was a huge reason for Iowa’s success against Indiana’s rushing attack, or lack thereof.
Four of Iowa’s defensive linemen – juniors John Waggoner and Noah Shannon, sophomore Logan Lee and redshirt freshman Ethan Hurkett – set career highs in tackles. Waggoner and Lee also made their first career starts.
“We had a lot of guys today playing, and we wanted to go out there and do our job,” Waggoner said. “I think it was a good first step, but we have a lot to improve on.”
Injury report: Senior offensive lineman Kyler Schott missed Saturday’s game due to a foot injury suffered while working on his family farm.
Senior receiver Charlies Jones limped off the field after a kick return in the fourth quarter and did not return.
Next Up: Iowa faces in-state rival Iowa State next Saturday in Ames. The game will air on ABC with a 3:30 kickoff. Iowa has won five consecutive games in the series.
The Cyclones beat Northern Iowa 16-10 on Saturday.
IOWA – Goodson 56 run (Caleb Shudak kick)
IOWA – Moss 30 interception return (Shudak kick)
INDIANA – Charles Campbell 36 FG
IOWA – Petras 9 run (Shudak kick)
IOWA – Moss 55 interception return (Shudak kick)
IOWA – Shudak 41 FG
INDIANA – Campbell 41 FG
IOWA – Shudak 35 FG
Indiana 3 0 3 0 – 6
Iowa 14 17 0 3 – 34