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Know Your Foe Week 9: Iowa Hawkeyes

The Hawkeyes fly to Happy Valley for their 28th matchup with the Nittany Lions  

NCAA Football: Maryland at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

University of Iowa

  • Location: Iowa City, Iowa
  • Enrollment: 33,564 (undergraduates and post graduates)

Iowa Hawkeyes Football Facts

  • Home Stadium: Kinnick Stadium (Capacity 69,250)
  • Head Coach: kirk Ferentz, 20thseason, 149-98 (.603)
  • Conference: Big Ten (West Division)
  • Overall Bowl Record: 15-15-1 (.500)
  • Conference Titles: 13
  • Claimed National Titles: 4

Series History

  • First Game: November 15, 1930 (Iowa won, 19-0)
  • Last Game: September 23, 2017 (Penn State won, 21-19)
  • Overall: Penn State leads, 15-12
  • Current Streak: 4, Penn State

Last Season (8-5 overall, 4-5 in the Big Ten)

The Iowa Hawkeyes came out strong at the beginning of the 2017 season, winning their first three games against Wyoming, Iowa State and North Texas. Iowa then lost two close games to No.4 Penn State and Michigan State before snagging a strong victory over Illinois. After losing another close one to Northwestern, the Hawkeyes won their next two against Minnesota and No.6 Ohio State, then lost to No. 6 Wisconsin and Purdue. After winning their last regular season game against Nebraska, Iowa was invited to the Pinstripe Bowl on December 27, defeating Boston College.

Of course, the coolest thing that the Hawkeyes did in 2017 was to start a new tradition called the Kinnick Wave,where, at the end of the first quarter of every home game everyone in the stadium turns and waves to the patients watching from the Stead Family Children’s Hospital, which overlooks Kinnick Stadium. Bravo, Iowa.

Recruiting and Offseason

The Iowa Hawkeyes’ 2018 class ranks as the nation’s 39th recruiting class (eighth in the Big Ten) as compared to Penn State’s 2018 class, ranked at sixth in the nation and second in the Big Ten (per 247 Sports).

Last Week

The now No. 18 Iowa Hawkeyes easily defeated the Maryland Terrapins in a 23-0 win where the Hawkeyes had 310 total yards to the Terps’ 115. Iowa rushed for 224 yards on 52 attempts, with Ivory Kelly-Martin reaching a career-high 98 yards on 24 carries. Iowa’s quarterback Nate Stanley completed 11 of 22 attempts for 86 yards and one touchdown. Senior Jake Gervase led Iowa’s defense with six tackles, and the defense forced two turnovers in the game.


The Hawkeyes, 75th in total offense and rushing offense, 68th in passing offense and 56th in scoring offense are led by quarterback Nate Stanley. He’s a threat in the air, completing 119 of 196 passes (60.7) for 1559 yards. Stanley ranks 15th in FBS and second in the Big Ten with 16 touchdown passes. After the win against Indiana this year (when Stanley was named Walter Camp National Player of the week for his six-touchdown performance), he was also named co-offensive player of the week in the Big Ten Conference.

The Iowa offensive line, allowing just six quarterback sacks this year (fewest in the conference and ninth nationally), is led by senior center Keegan Render. He’s joined by two sophomore offensive tackles: left tackle Alaric Jackson who was a freshman All-American in 2017 and right tackle Tristan Wirfs. The Hawkeyes rotate in guards Cole Banwart, Dalton Ferguson, and Ross Reynolds.

At the running back position, with Akrum Wadley gone, Iowa has been using sophomore Toren Young, who is now the team’s leading rusher with 82 carries for 403 yards. Sophomore Ivory Kelly-Martin is second on the team with 74 carries and 279 yards rushing. Mekhi Sargent is right behind with 73 receptions for 297 yards and an impressive four scores for the Hawkeyes.

In the air, Iowa relies heavily on their pair of 6’5” big, athletic tight ends in junior Noah Fant, one of the best in the conference and nationally, and sophomore T.J. Hockenson. The Hawkeye tight ends rank number one and two on the team in receptions, and have combined for 746 receiving yards on 51 catches and nine receiving touchdowns.

Rounding out the offense are the receiving corps including senior Nick Easley, third on the team in receptions with 24 (and three scores), and sophomores Brandon Smith and Ihmire Smith-Marsette.


Trace McSorley better watch out this weekend against a nasty Hawkeyes defense that’s one of the best in the country and likes to shut down quarterbacks. Iowa ranks fourth in the conference with 22 sacks (with defensive end A.J. Epenesa leading the team and second in the Big Ten with six sacks).

The Hawkeyes also lead the Big Ten in total defense and are third nationally. Iowa is also second nationally in rush defense, 18th in pass yards allowed and fifth in scoring defense.

The defensive line is anchored by standout junior defensive end Anthony Nelson, who’s fifth in the conference with five sacks (and has 22 tackles and 5.5 TFLs), joined by defensive ends Parker Hesse (26 tackles, five TFLs, three sacks) and Chauncey Golston and defensive tackles Sam Brincks and Matt Nelson (the tallest player on the team at 6’8”).

The linebacker unit includes Kristian Welch who leads the team in tackles with 35 along with Djimon Colbert (27 tackles) and Nick Nieman (22 tackles)

Iowa has a pair of freshmen corners in Riley Moss, named a Big Ten Freshman of the Week after the Minnesota game, with two interceptions along with Julius Brents. Safety Amani Hooker is third on the team with 32 tackles with safety Jake Gervase close behind with 28 tackles. Defensive backs Matt Hankins and Geno Stone (two interceptions) round out the strong Iowa defense.

Special Teams

Kicker Miguel Recino who was 11 of 13 last year returned this year and is 100% on extra points but just 70% (7 for 10) on field goals.

Junior punter Colten Rastetter, who joined the Hawkeyes as a walk-on, is second in the conference with an average of 43.6 yards per punt.

When it comes to kick returns, Iowa leads the country (30.89 ypr) as compared to Penn State at seventh (28.41 ypr). Smith-Marsette leads the Hawkeyes with six returns for 200 yards.


Read more about Iowa sports at their SB Nation blog Black Heart Gold Pants.