Opinion | Hawkeyes pick up where they left off with blowout Big Ten victory

The Iowa football team has won seven conference games in a row by an average of 22.7 points per game dating back to last season.


Ayrton Breckenridge

Iowa tight end Sam LaPorta catches the ball during a football game between No. 18 Iowa and No. 17 Indiana at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. The Hawkeyes defeated the Hoosiers 34-6. LaPorta had 83 receiving yards.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz admitted after his team’s season-opening victory over Indiana on Saturday that he didn’t sleep very well last weekend. Week 1 worries were starting to set in.

Ferentz said the Hawkeyes were sluggish during practices in hot weather a couple weeks ago, and some of the team was sidelined with a non-COVID-19 related illness. So last Sunday night, on the eve of the first game week of the season and with a top-20 opponent coming to town, Iowa’s 23rd-year coach visualized the worst.

“[Coaches] find ways to worry about things,” Ferentz said. “But they came in Monday morning focused and ready to roll and put in a good week of working on Indiana.”

With how the Hawkeyes have been performing against the Big Ten lately, Ferentz is going to have to start working a little harder to find things to lose sleep over.

The 2021 Hawkeyes started their season the same way the 2020 Hawkeyes ended theirs — by blowing out a Big Ten opponent.

Iowa players made snow angels on the Kinnick Stadium turf after defeating Wisconsin by 21 points in what ended up being the team’s final game of last season. This year’s team celebrated to the song Swag Surfin in the locker room after dismantling Indiana, 34-6, on Saturday. The No. 18 Hawkeyes had a near-perfect performance in their first game of the season, a four-touchdown victory over the No. 17 Hoosiers.

Defeating a top-20 opponent by 28 points in the first week of the season, when Iowa is traditionally still trying to ease into the year, seemed shocking.

But, considering the team’s recent track record against Big Ten teams, was it really?

“I wasn’t surprised at all,” said tight end Sam LaPorta, who caught five passes for 83 yards. “I thought we were ready to play, and we executed really well. We’ve been busting our butts for eight months. It was a long camp. We put in the work, we put in the time, we put in the effort.”

Iowa running back Tyler Goodson scored a 56-yard touchdown 85 seconds into the season when LaPorta provided a seal block on the right side of the offensive line. Minutes later, Iowa cornerback Riley Moss recorded his first of two interception returns for touchdowns on the day. His second occurred in the second quarter and put Iowa up 28-3.

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Ferentz’s team started fast. It kept the lead throughout the game. There was no comeback attempt that gained any momentum, unlike last season’s home-opener when Iowa blew a 17-0 advantage to Northwestern.

Since that game, actually, Iowa has found a habit of dominating against Big Ten opponents.

After losing to the Wildcats last Halloween, the Hawkeyes are on a seven-game winning streak, with all those games coming against conference opponents. 

Iowa is averaging 35.4 points per game in those contests. Its opponents? Only 12.7.

“The way we prepare, we’re confident against anybody,” said defensive back Dane Belton, who recorded his first career interception on Saturday. “I feel like we can stack up against a lot of people.”

Ferentz and his team couldn’t have hoped for a better season-opening performance, or for a better head start in the Big Ten West race. Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Northwestern all suffered home losses to start the season.

It was the perfect continuation of the momentum the 2020 team had going at the end of last season. Carrying that over into next week against Iowa State (the team’s first nonconference game since defeating USC 49-24 in the 2019 Holiday Bowl) is now on Iowa’s mind. And then the week after that. And the week after that.

You get the idea.

“This team has run the race well to this point,” quarterback Spencer Petras said. “One game is not a whole season. If we want to achieve our goals, we need to play like this every week.”

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.