Grading Iowa’s performance in a dominant victory over Michigan State

The Hawkeyes were productive in all three phases to win their first game of the season.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa running back Tyler Goodson carries the ball during a football game between Iowa and Michigan State in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. The Hawkeyes dominated the Spartans, 49-7.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

All three phases of the game were working for Iowa in a 49-7 victory over Michigan State at Kinnick Stadium in Week 3.

The victory is the first for the Hawkeyes as the team improves to 1-2 on the season.

The Daily Iowan graded Iowa’s dominant performance.

Offense — A-

Saturday was, by far, the best the Iowa offense has looked through three games this season.

The Hawkeye rushing attack led the way. Iowa rushed for 226 yards against Michigan State, with running back Tyler Goodson leading with 113 yards and two touchdowns. His teammates, running back Mekhi Sargent, scored two rushing touchdowns of his own in the second half — breaking Iowa’s scoring drought in second halves of games.

Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras was 15-of-27 for 167 yards and a touchdown in his third career start. Petras still had some timing issues when trying to connect with his receivers, but spread the ball around and did all he needed to — especially with the ground game working so well. A third-down pass into the end zone that was hauled in by Brandon Smith was the highlight from the passing game on the day.

Despite missing wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette, who was on suspension, and offensive linemenCoy Cronk and Kyler Schott missing the game because of injuries, Iowa’s offense compiled 405 yards, put points on the board, and contributed to the team’s first win of the season.

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Defense — A

Michigan State quarterback Rocky Lombardi looked uncomfortable throughout Saturday’s game, and the Iowa defense can be credited for that. The Hawkeyes held the Spartans to 286 yards of total offense.

Lombardi threw three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Iowa cornerback Riley Moss. Iowa only compiled two sacks, but the team’s pass rush was active all day and collapsed the pocket on Lombardi, disrupting his timing.

The Spartans only ran for 59 yards (1.8) yards per carry. A great performance from a defense that has allowed 17.3 points per game this season.

Special teams — A

Keith Duncan missing a 37-yard field goal is probably the only negative from Iowa’s special teams against Michigan State. And the good news for the Hawkeyes was there were lots of positives.

Example No. 1: There may not be a better punter in college football than Tory Taylor. Saturday was only Taylor’s third-ever game, and he punted it seven times, averaging 45.9 yards per punt. The freshman and Melbourne, Australia, native punted seven inside Michigan State’s 20-yard line. One of Taylor’s punts traveled an incredible 61 yards.

Example No. 2: Iowa’s punt return unit was just as good. Charlie Jones racked up 105 return yards, including 54 yards on a return for a touchdown at the end of the first half.