Nate Stanley key in Hawkeye win against Ohio State

Nate Stanley’s 5-touchdown performance against Ohio State was one of the best passing outings Hawkeye fans have ever seen.


Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley points out a linebacker during Iowa's game against Ohio State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. The Hawkeyes defeated the Buckeyes, 55-24. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Adam Hensley, [email protected]

Radio personality Colin Cowherd is on record for tabbing Iowa as the “fake ID” of college football.

But during Iowa’s 55-24 win over No. 3 Ohio State, Cowherd tweeted out praise directed toward quarterback Nate Stanley, saying the sophomore was “absolutely slinging it.”

Cowherd wasn’t wrong.

Stanley put on a vintage gunslinger performance for the ages in the Hawkeye upset, going 20-of-31 for 226 yards and 5 touchdowns with no interceptions.

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Arguably Stanley’s best play — there were many to choose from — came moments after Iowa converted a fake field goal into a fresh set of downs inside the 5-yard line.

What occurred next was what head coach Kirk Ferentz called his “favorite play” of the game.

On first-and-goal, Iowa ran a play-action pass. Buckeye defensive end Sam Hubbard came rushing off the right edge, sprinting into the backfield almost untouched. The lineman dove at Stanley’s legs and attempted to pull him down from the ground, but the sophomore signal caller stood his ground and fired a touchdown pass to tight end T.J. Hockenson in the back of the end zone with the Ohio State defender hanging on to him.

“That’s just part of being a quarterback,” Stanley said. “Sometimes you have to make plays when they’re necessary. Off that play, T.J. made a great adjustment. He put his arm back inside, and I trusted that he’d be able to wall off that defender and make a play.”

And that was the theme for most of the game. Stanley looked like a surgeon, slicing up Ohio State’s secondary while throwing passes to eight different receivers.

Some call it Kinnick magic — or, as Buckeye center Billy Price deeded it, the “Kinnick curse” — others call it luck, but one thing is for sure: Stanley’s performance will go down in Hawkeye history as one of the best.

Oct. 4 marked Stanley’s second 5-touchdown outing of the season, joining Chuck Long as the only Iowa quarterback to throw for 5 touchdowns in a single game twice (Long had two 6-touchdown games).

He’s the only quarterback to throw for 5 touchdowns numerous times in a single season, however, and Stanley is quietly putting together one of the best single-season performances in Hawkeye history.

RELATED: Three in 30: Iowa’s wins over Ohio State since 1987

Through only nine games, Stanley has 22 passing touchdowns, tying Drew Tate’s and Long’s mark for fifth-best in a single season.

Long holds the single-season record for passing touchdowns with 27, set in 1985 — Brad Banks came close to tying the record with his 26-touchdown campaign in 2002, and both Ricky Stanzi (2010) and James Vandenberg (2011) threw 25 in a season.

Stanley’s on pace for 32 touchdowns this season — 5 more than the school record.

It’s been a while since Hawkeye fans have seen a quarterback make plays like Stanley did against Ohio State, from scoring with a Buckeye wrapped around his ankles to lofting a perfectly-placed dime to Fant in stride.

Granted, Stanley’s first season as a starter hasn’t been perfect by any means (Twitter groans in agony when the quarterback overthrows wide-open receivers on deep routes), but he’s stepped up in big games — just ask Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, who didn’t have any answers about what went wrong for his defense.

Or ask Cowherd, who said in his radio show Monday that the Hawkeyes “turned 21 Saturday.”

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