Record-setting day for offense sets Iowa up for Michigan

Iowa’s offense posted big numbers in the team’s win over Middle Tennessee on Saturday, presenting a possibility of fireworks next week when Iowa takes on No. 20 Michigan.


Megan Nagorzanski

Iowa wide receiver Brandon Smith completes a catch during a football game between Iowa and Middle Tennessee State University on Saturday, September 28, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Blue Raiders 48-3.

Pete Mills, Sports Reporter

The Sept. 28 matchup with Middle Tennessee was a day full of flashbacks for the Hawkeye football offense, which broke records dating back to the 1990s. The flashbacks will help the team look forward to its looming date with No. 20 Michigan in Ann Arbor next weekend.

The team piled up 644 yards in the win, the most for an Iowa offense since 1997 and the most in head coach Kirk Ferentz’s Iowa tenure. All phases were clicking for the Hawkeyes, with seven receivers locking down receptions and three running backs hitting the 90-yard mark.

“I guess the bigger picture I’m happy about — I didn’t know the numbers until a little while ago — but I’m just happy that we showed up ready to play,” Ferentz said. “That to me is a good indication, in Week 4 coming off a bye, that the team is thinking right.”

The individual performances rolled in. Quarterback Nate Stanley locked down one of his best performances of the year in which he posted 276 yards and two scores. His second touchdown throw — a 10-yard pass to Brandon Smith — was Stanley’s 60th passing touchdown in his career. He became the third Iowa quarterback in history to reach the mark, joining Drew Tate and Chuck Long.

Stanley noted that the rushing attack was also strong, which allowed the receivers to spread the ball passing. The Iowa coaching staff was wary of the game all week — as it had markings of a trap game following a bye week — but Stanley said he was happy with the way the team used the time off.

“Everybody did a great job of using the bye week, not only to recover physically but to take that next step,” he said. “This last week in practice, everybody did a great job of being focused, knowing what we wanted to accomplish.”

But it wasn’t all stats and passing for Stanley; the quarterback proved he was mentally engaged with his own rushing attack. A keeper — only meant to get a few yards for a first down — ended up as a 9-yard run. His team had fun with him after the game following his multi-faceted performance.

“We’re waiting for him to break one and get a long run out of it,” lineman Tristan Wirfs said. “He’s going to put his shoulder down and hit somebody [eventually].”

Iowa had it all clicking, but the Hawkeyes also know they will not put up 644 yards of offense next week against Michigan. The team is using this game as a launching pad into its tough month of Big Ten competition ahead, starting with its matchup in Ann Arbor next weekend.

“[This] builds a lot of confidence,” Stanley said. “These guys we just played, they’re a great team, they played hard. So it’s very rewarding. It’s very nice we had this type of game and produced the way we did.”

The Michigan defense has been vulnerable at times this season — especially in stopping the run. The Wolverines gave up 487 yards of offense in its loss to Wisconsin in Week 4, with 359 coming on the ground.

Iowa’s win over Middle Tennessee yielded many records and big numbers. But something even more exciting came out of the win: opportunity.