In a battle of top-20 heavyweights, it was a first round knockout in Iowa City.
Two massive early mistakes put Indiana in a 14-0 hole before they knew what hit them, and the No. 17 Hoosiers never recovered. Instead, the Hoosier miscues snowballed and the long anticipated season-opener was decided before halftime.
Iowa’s Tyler Goodson got loose on the edge and ran untouched for a 56-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the game. Indiana lost contain of the sideline on the play and no one was home on the back end to disrupt Goodson once he turned upfield.
Just moments later IU wide receiver D.J. Matthews couldn’t hang on to a Michael Penix, Jr. pass, and the ball deflected to Iowa’s Riley Moss who returned it 30 yards for the Hawkeyes second touchdown in 50 seconds. With 12:45 still left on the first quarter clock, Indiana was on its heels in front of nearly 70,000 at Kinnick Stadium.
Penix never looked comfortable in his first action since tearing his ACL in November. He threw two more first half interceptions including a second pick-six by Moss, and by the time the first half onslaught was over it was 31-3 Hawkeyes.
The teams traded second half field goals as No. 18 Iowa cruised to a 34-6 win.
“Didn’t play well. … Just extremely disappointed in so many ways,” Indiana head coach Tom Allen said after the game.
Penix finished the game 14-of-29 for 156 yards and three interceptions and followed a trend of struggling in season openers. He threw two first half interceptions in 2019 against Ball State, and the fourth-year quarterback was just 11-of-26 for 99 yards with an interception in the 2020 opener against Penn State before some late fireworks in the final 1:42 of regulation plus overtime. Penix was ultimately benched in the fourth quarter once it became clear that Indiana was not going to be able to overcome the Iowa lead.
“It was his first game in a while,” Allen said. “I felt like he has really practiced well, and I didn’t expect this to happen, that’s for sure. But the whole (offensive) group has got to execute. Too many mistakes, too many penalties, and it just got away from us.”
Indiana’s defense played well enough to win the game, holding Iowa to 303 total yards while forcing two fumbles, both of which they recovered. Iowa’s offense only scored one touchdown after their first drive of the game.
Transfer defensive linemen Ryder Anderson and Weston Kramer led the Hoosiers with seven tackles apiece. Anderson and Reese Taylor added sacks, while Cam Jones and Raheem Layne forced the fumbles.
“They (the Indiana defense) did a lot of good things,” Allen said. … “Other than that first drive that long run was just such a disappointing thing, we weren’t set and they got the edge on us and he was gone.”
Stephen Carr handled the bulk of the rushing duties, carrying the ball 19 times for 57 yards behind an offensive line that struggled to create running lanes.
Kicker Charles Campbell made both of his field goal attempts and is now 14-of-15 for his Indiana career.
Indiana will return home to host Idaho next Saturday at Memorial Stadium. Allen will be looking for his team to put the disappointment behind them and respond playing in front of their home crowd for the first time in nearly two years.
“When you’ve got character and you’ve got grit, and you’ve got toughness to you, you will respond,” Allen said. “So I’m excited to see this team respond. As much as this hurts, you can’t change what just happened. You’ve got to figure out why, and we’ve got to fix it, and we’ve got to press on.”
Note: Indiana announced before the game sophomore wide receiver Javon Swinton would serve a one-game suspension at Iowa for a violation of team rules. Running back David Ellis and defensive end James Head, Jr. were not available due to injuries.
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