Grading Iowa football’s performance against Rutgers

The Hawkeyes opened Big Ten play with a performance that couldn’t get much better.

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Grading Iowa football’s performance against Rutgers

Iowa defensive end AJ Epenesa celebrates after a play during a football game between Iowa and Rutgers at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, September 7, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Scarlet Knights, 30-0.

Iowa defensive end AJ Epenesa celebrates after a play during a football game between Iowa and Rutgers at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, September 7, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Scarlet Knights, 30-0.

Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa defensive end AJ Epenesa celebrates after a play during a football game between Iowa and Rutgers at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, September 7, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Scarlet Knights, 30-0.

Shivansh Ahuja

Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa defensive end AJ Epenesa celebrates after a play during a football game between Iowa and Rutgers at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, September 7, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Scarlet Knights, 30-0.

Pete Ruden, Sports Reporter

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Offense: A-

Iowa decimated Rutgers in all aspects in its 30-0 win on Sept. 7, and it was apparent the Hawkeyes were the better team.

Nate Stanley threw 3 touchdowns for the second week in a row, Ihmir Smith-Marsette posted the best stat line of his career with 113 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Iowa picked up 194 yards on the ground after a rough start. 

Defense: A+

The Hawkeye defense held Rutgers to 41 passing yards and 125 total yards in a dominant performance. That’s a good way to open Big Ten play.

In addition to the crazy numbers the defense put up, A.J. Epenesa recorded his first sack of the season, and Djimon Colbert and Michael Ojemudia both intercepted a pass. It was Ojemudia’s second pick in as many games.

Special Teams: B+

This grade would be in the A-range if it were simply rating Michael Sleep-Dalton’s punts and Keith Duncan’s kicks. Sleep-Dalton racked up 290 yards on six punts, including two inside the 20-yard line. Duncan made all three of his field goals from 46, 19, and 43 yards.

The only negative came in the punt return game, where Nico Ragaini struggled with his judgment. Iowa started drives inside its own 15-yard line seven times, forcing the Hawkeye offense to come up with some long drives to score.

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