BLOOMINGTON, Indiana -- The Hawkeyes have started 9-0 for only the second time in school history as they beat Indiana on the road Saturday by a score of 35-27.
Indiana (4-5, 0-5) proved to be a tough opponent for Iowa (9-0, 5-0) on Saturday and even led in this game for a short period of time in the second quarter. The Hawkeyes stepped up when it mattered most, however, and showed why this resilient bunch has yet to lose.
“The more you win, the bigger the games are and the more excited everybody is,” running back LeShun Daniels Jr. said. “We just get more jacked up every time somebody goes out there and makes a play for us. It’s big time for us.”
Iowa opened the game with the ball and scored on their second play of the game when Akrum Wadley took a handoff 65 yards for a touchdown. Indiana responded with a 32-yard field goal by Griffin Oakes on their first possession.
The Hawkeyes increased their 7-3 lead in the second quarter as Daniels was untouched on a 4-yard touchdown run. Later in the quarter, Indiana started their comeback.
Jordan Howard scored on a 37-yard touchdown run, before running another one in from 29 yards out to give the Hoosiers a brief 17-14 lead. Howard torched the Hawkeyes in the first half, accumulating 116 yards on the ground and those two scores.
Iowa trailed in a game for the first time since they were down 7-6 against Illinois on Oct. 10. However, before the half, the Hawkeyes responded like a top 10 team should.
“People come at us hard and for some reason we find a way to bounce back,” cornerback Desmond King said. “We can work our way through tough situations and over obstacles and come out with the win.”
Beathard scored on a designed quarterback sneak when he leaped over multiple defenders and into the end zone with 17 seconds left. The quarterback lost control of the ball at the goal line, but following a review, the ruling on the field stood and the Hawkeyes led 21-17 at halftime.
“It was a good call by coach Davis,” Beathard said. “It was a quarterback draw and I was trying to do anything I could to get it in the end zone. I felt like the only way I could get in was jumping over the top.”
On Iowa’s first possession of the second half, head coach Kirk Ferentz chose to go for it on fourth-and-2 from Indiana’s 27-yard line. The decision failed when the Hoosiers knocked down Beathard’s pass at the line of scrimmage. The third quarter proved mostly uneventful with both teams failing to put any points up on the board.
In the fourth quarter, Iowa regained complete control of the game. After Indiana kicked a 28-yard field goal to make the score 21-20, Daniels scored his second touchdown of the day on a 1-yard run. On their next possession, Iowa marched down the field and scored again, this time on a short 10-yard pass from Beathard to George Kittle. The tight end made a similar athletic leap as Beathard did into the end zone.
King also recorded his eighth interception of the season in the final quarter, which tied him with Nile Kinnick and Lou King for the school record.
Indiana was able to score a touchdown late in the game, but Iowa prevailed 35-27 in Bloomington to remain undefeated on the season. It wasn't the most impressive win for the Hawkeyes, but they pulled out the victory against the best offensive team in the Big Ten.
“Now we’re going (further) into November and there’s three games left,” wide receiver Tevaun Smith said. “They are so important to us. Just keeping it going and winning these last few games is definitely important for us.”
Beathard, who is now 10-0 in his career as starting quarterback, finished 19-for-31 with 233 yards passing and two total touchdowns. Wadley and Daniels both had great outings for the Hawkeyes on the ground, combining for 35 carries for 198 yards and three touchdowns. Linebacker Josey Jewell was all over the field on defense, racking up 15 total tackles and one tackle for loss.
Next week, the Hawkeyes will host the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Kinnick Stadium at 7 p.m. The next round of College Football Playoff rankings will be released on Tuesday.
“There are a lot of times to lose throughout the course of the year, just like the last time we were 9-0 (in 2009),” Ferentz said. “But again, it’s just like anything else, the credit goes to our players. They find a way to get it done week in, week out, we’ve been in some tough situations this year.”
“All I can say is if we win out, there’s nothing they (detractors) can do about it,” King said. “(Going undefeated) is our goal and we’re taking it week-by-week to prove them wrong.”