Iowa-Arkansas State: A Win Is A Win

B.Senior Analyst IMarch 20, 2017

The Associated Press recap for the Iowa-Arkansas State game starts, "The mystery of the 13th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes only deepened Saturday."

There is no mystery, really.  This is typical Kirk Ferentz football.

"I've been around this thing long enough where I don't worry so much how you get there, just a matter of getting there," Ferentz said. "I know where we're at right now."

The Hawkeye faithful can find comfort and relief in those words, because yesterday's game against Arkansas State left some rushing to the store in search of some Kaopectate.

The game started off with a bang for the Hawkeyes.  Ricky Stanzi threw a beautiful 33 yard bomb to Trey Stross for a touchdown on Iowa's first possession. 

About six minutes later, Stanzi threw another bomb.  This one was a 41 yard pass to Marvin McNutt for a touchdown.

Heading into the second quarter, Iowa was leading the Red Wolves by a commanding 14-0.  It seemed the Hawkeyes could do no wrong.

That perception was shattered when Arkansas State's Corey Leonard realized Iowa's Shaun Prater wasn't playing in the game.  The Hawkeyes starting corner was out for the game, and that meant a weak link of sorts in the Hawkeye secondary.

Sophomore William Lowe filled in for Prater.  He put forth his best effort but seemed to have trouble defending Brandon Thompkins.  The experienced Leonard saw this mismatch and attacked it.

With 44 seconds left in the first half, Leonard connected with Thompkins for a touchdown.

The score was Iowa 14, Arkansas State 7 at the half, which left some fans scratching their heads, wondering why the game was still so close.

The third quarter started very similar to the first quarter, with Stanzi connecting on a 43 yard touchdown pass to McNutt.  It was Stanzi's third touchdown on the day, and his second to McNutt.

It was Stanzi's fourth touchdown pass that started to concern people, mainly because it was in the fourth quarter and it was to Arkansas State's Demario Davis.  Just as Iowa was marching down the field for what seemed to be another score, Davis intercepted a badly thrown pass and ran it back 75 yards for a Red Wolves touchdown.

The Hawkeyes scored a field goal on the next possession, making the score 24-14 in favor of Iowa.  Arkansas State was far from giving up, though.

With ten minutes left in the game, Leonard and company took over on offense and proceeded to consume eight minutes of the clock with a drive that ended in a four yard touchdown pass from Leonard to TE Trevor Gillott.

It wasn't hard for the people watching on television to read the minds of fans around the stadium.

"Is this really happening?"

Luckily, it wasn't.  Arkansas State's attempt at an onside kick failed, and Iowa won the game 24-21.

By the reaction of a few of the Hawkeye nation, some would think Iowa lost this game.  But, looking at the game from an objective eye, and taking away Stanzi's pick six, this game looks very different.  Several Hawkeyes actually put up some great stats.

Stanzi completed 18 of 26 passes for 296 yards and three touchdowns, his best performance of the year.

Tyler Sash added his fifth interception on the year.

Iowa's defense denied the run again, only allowing 80 total rushing yards.

Defensive end Adrian Clayborn recorded two sacks.

The offense line, who heading into this game was tenth in the Big Ten for sacks allowed, didn't allow a single sack.

All in all, the game stats look good.  There is room for improvement, but the Hawkeyes should take this game for what it was worth: a tune-up win before Michigan.

Iowa is off to a 5-0 start, their best start since 1995.  And Kirk Ferentz is in his comfort zone.  Those are very good things.