EVANSTON, Ill. — The 20th-ranked University of Iowa football team posted its second shutout of the season, downing Northwestern, 20-0, on a Homecoming Saturday at Ryan Field.
The win moves the Hawkeyes to 6-2 overall, 3-2 in Big Ten play and makes Iowa bowl eligible for the seventh straight season and for the 18th time in the last 19 seasons under head coach Kirk Ferentz.
The Hawkeye defense was suffocating, limiting the Wildcats to 70 yards in the first half and 202 yards for the game. Iowa forced one turnover — a first-quarter interception — and four turnovers on downs. The shutout is the first for Northwestern since 2015 (at Michigan) and the first home shutout since 1999 (vs. Michigan State).
Junior Geno Stone and redshirt freshman Dillon Doyle led the defense with seven stops each and Iowa had five sacks and nine tackles for loss. Junior Daviyon Nixon had two sacks (and five tackles), redshirt freshman Joe Evans had 1 1/2 sacks, and junior Chauncey Golston had 2.5 tackles for loss and an interception.
Offensively, Iowa did what it needed to do, and finished with 302 yards. Senior Nate Stanley completed 12-of-26 attempts for 179 yards and a touchdown with two completions going to redshirt freshman Tyrone Tracy, Jr., for 88 yards and a touchdown.
“Our guys played hard, both teams did. We played good defense, the guys played hard and competed for the whole 60 minutes. The run game got a little better and healthier. We still have some things to clean up, but the guys kept banging on the door and did a lot of good things. We controlled the ball like we needed to.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
- The Hawkeyes forced the game’s only turnover on the Widlcats’ third offensive play of the game. Northwestern quarterback Aiden Smith’s pass was batted at the line by senior Brady Reiff and Golston came away with the interception and returned it 3 yards to the Northwestern 21.
- Iowa came away empty, despite the great field position, when Stanley was sacked for an 11-yard loss on third down. Keith Duncan missed a 46-yard field goal, marking the first time in 25 chances this season Iowa failed to score when reaching the red zone.
- Iowa’s defense forced a turnover on downs on the Wildcats’ next possession, stuffing a John Moten VI run on fourth-and-2. Iowa took over at midfield and needed just three plays to take a 7-0 lead.
- On third-and-10, Stanley threw a dart to Tracy, Jr., and he spun out of a Trey Williams tackle and raced 50 yards for the touchdown. It was the longest catch of Tracy’s career.
- The Hawkeyes strung together a 15-play drive spanning the first and second quarters to add to their lead. Iowa converted four third downs on the drive, including a third-and-8 with a 13-yard draw to Sargent on the final play of the first quarter. The Hawkeyes’ drive stalled at the Iowa 22, but Duncan made a 40-yard field goal to make the score 10-0 with 12:25 left in the second quarter.
- Iowa took its opening drive of the second half 59 yards to push its lead to 17-0. Goodson was the catalyst, running and catching the ball nine times for 47. The big play came on fourth-and-8 from the NU 30 when Stanley found Shaun Beyer for 11 yards and the first down and three plays later Sargent’s second effort from 1-yard out got him into the end zone on the 13th play of the drive.
- The Hawkeyes pushed their lead to 20-0 with a nine-play, 61-yard drive on its first possession of the fourth quarter. Stanley hit Tracy, Jr., for another big play — a 38-yard completion to the NU 19 — and Iowa moved to the 10 on back-to-back Toren Young rushes. Stanley targeted Tracy in the end zone on third down before Duncan kicked a 28-yard field goal with 9:58 remaining.
- Kirk Ferentz has 94 Big Ten Conference wins, one shy of tying Joe Paterno for No. 5 all-time in conference history.
- Iowa has four shutouts in its last 11 Big Ten Conference games (Rutgers and Northwestern in 2019, Maryland and Illinois in 2018).
- Nate Stanley’s 50-yard touchdown pass to Tyrone Tracy, Jr., in the first quarter was the 62nd touchdown pass of his career, No. 2 all-time in program history (Chuck Long, 74). Stanley entered the game tied with Drew Tate (61) on the all-time list.
- Stanley made his 34th consecutive start, the second longest streak by a Hawkeye QB in program history (Long, 47).
- Tyrone Tracy’s 50-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter was his longest career reception, and second career touchdown. The play was Iowa’s third longest of the season (Smith-Marsette 58-yard touchdown reception vs. Rutgers; Toren Young 52-yard rush against Middle Tennessee State).
- Chauncey Golston recorded an interception (3 yards) in the first quarter, his second career interception (2019 Outback Bowl).
- Mekhi Sargent’s 1-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter was his fourth rushing touchdown of the year, and Iowa’s 10th of the season. Among Iowa’s 10 rushing scores, five have been from the 1-yard line, each by a different Hawkeye (QB Nate Stanley, FB Brady Ross, QB Spencer Petras, RB Tyler Goodson, Sargent).
- Dane Belton made his first career start and recorded five tackles. He is the 25th true freshman in the Ferentz era to start. Eight of the 25 have been defensive backs (Belton 2019; Moss and Brents 2018; Hankins 2017; Rugamba 2016; King 2013; Sapp and Sanders 2000).
- Ihmir Smith-Marsette’s 7-yard reception in the first quarter put him over 1,000 career receiving yards. He is the 42nd player in program history to reach 1,000 yards receiving. He has 71 career receptions for 1,011 yards.
- Sam LaPorta’s 41-yard reception in the second quarter was his first career reception.
- Keith Duncan connected on two field goals today (40, 28). He missed rom 46 yards. Duncan is 11-for-13 on field goal tries of 40-yards or more this season. He has 19 made field goals this season, the most since Daniel Murray had 19 in 2009, and tied for the fifth most in single-season history.
- Iowa’s defense had a season-high five sacks. Joe Evans recorded his first career tackle and his first 1.5 sacks today. Daviyon Nixon had a career-high two sacks. Dillon Doyle had a career-high seven tackles.
- Iowa allowed 202 yards of offense, its lowest total in a Big Ten game since holding Maryland to 115 yards in 2018. It is the lowest total in a road game since limiting Northwestern to 198 yards in 2015.
- Iowa had 12 first downs, its lowest total since the 2019 Outback Bowl (W, 27-22).
- Iowa snapped a three-game losing streak to Northwestern and improved to 51-27-3 all-time in the series.
- Northwestern was 0-4 on fourth-down attempts. Iowa opponents entered the game 2-3 on fourth down conversion attempts.
The Hawkeyes are idle Nov. 2. Iowa returns to action Nov. 9, traveling to Madison to face Wisconsin in a battle for the Heartland Trophy at Camp Randall Stadium.