By Courtney Baumann
There was some black magic happening in Iowa City on the evening of Nov. 4.
In Iowa’s alternate-uniform and blackout game, Nate Stanley threw 5 touchdowns to push the Hawkeyes to a 55-24 victory over No. 3 Ohio State.
A 17.5-point underdog, it took just eight seconds for the Hawkeyes to steal the lead. Defensive back Amani Hooker picked off J.T. Barrett on the first play from scrimmage for a 30-yard return to the end zone.
The Ohio State turnovers didn’t stop there.
Barrett threw 3 more interceptions during the game, and all ended up in Hawkeye DB Josh Jackson’s hands.
Jackson, who entered the game leading the NCAA in pass breakups, is now tied for second in the NCAA for interceptions, with 5.
“I think just running to the ball was the main thing. Our D-line did a really good job, we got pressure on them and made it tough back there,” Jackson said. “We just try to play our keys to the best of our ability.”
It wasn’t just the defense that shone against one of the top offenses in the country. Stanley and Company came to play as well.
Stanley, who boosted his touchdown total to 22, connected with seven different receivers for 226 yards. His favorites, though, were definitely his two tight ends — T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant. The two combined for 125 yards on 9 receptions and 4 of the 5 passing touchdowns.
“I think you play best when you’re having fun,” Stanley said. “When you can just go out and play, and not worry about the pressure or the circumstances around you, that’s when you can really come out and excel.”
Another Hawkeye put up some passing yards in the game alongside Stanley, but it wasn’t Tyler Wiegers, or any of the other backup quarterbacks, for that matter.
Colten Rastetter, while lining up to be a placeholder on a field-goal attempt, took the snap from Tyler Kluver, then connected with him on an 18-yard pass just 2 yards shy of the end zone. It was your routine center-eligible play.
The trick play set the Hawkeyes up for their fifth touchdown of the game, when Stanley found Hockenson in the end zone to put the team up 38-17. Those 2 yards were not won easily, though. Stanley fired the ball to Hockenson in the right corner with a defender dragging on his leg.
Still, the sophomore was not fazed.
“I think that’s just part of being a quarterback. Sometimes you have to make plays when they’re necessary,” Stanley said. “T.J. made a great adjustment. He saw it, and he put his arm back inside, and I trusted he’d be able to get the ball off that defender, and he did.”
The win propelled Iowa to a 6-3 record as well and bowl eligibility, but that seemed to be an afterthought for the Hawkeyes. The team was soaking up the elation of upsetting yet another top-5 team in Kinnick Stadium under the lights, beating Ohio State for just the fourth time in the last 30 years and putting up 55 points on a team that has not allowed more than 40 in a game since 2013.
“You know, the stadium has always been great and our fans have always been great, and they rise to the occasion,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “But ultimately, you’ve got to play. You’ve got to play. You know, so I think it gets down to the team doing a good job of filtering through everything, what’s important, and then really staying focused on that.”