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It felt an awful lot like last season.

Iowa’s 27-10 win at Rutgers on Saturday night was sparked by two defensive touchdowns.

The Hawkeyes were opportunistic last season, with four defensive touchdowns. They hadn’t had one in their first three games this season — they did get two safeties in the season-opening 7-3 win against South Dakota State — but their first points on Saturday came from the defense.

Cooper DeJean’s 45-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter put Iowa up 7-3. Kaevon Merriweather’s 30-yard fumble return for a score — Sebastian Castro forced the fumble — pushed the lead to 14-3.

It was a night when the Hawkeyes’ defense capitalized on their opportunities. Merriweather also had an interception in the fourth quarter that led to Drew Stevens’ 51-yard field goal for Iowa’s final points.

Iowa’s defense has allowed 23 points in the first four games of the season, the fewest points allowed in the last 66 years. The Hawkeyes gave up 20 points in the first four games in 1956.

“Well, they are an elite defense,” Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. “They are one of the top, over the last five years, top defenses, period, in America.”

DeJean, a sophomore, has three interceptions to lead the Hawkeyes this season, becoming a key part of Iowa’s secondary after playing sparingly last season.

Iowa allowed 361 yards of offense by Rutgers — quarterback Evan Simon passed for 300 yards — and the Scarlet Knights had 20 first downs. But the Hawkeyes came up with the big played when they needed them.

THREE-HEADED RUSHING ATTACK

Iowa got something from all three of its running backs.

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Leshon Williams, who missed last week’s win over Nevada after the death of his father, rushed for 64 yards and a touchdown, and also had two catches for 19 yards. Freshman Kaleb Johnson had 15 carries for 58 yards, and also had a 42-yard kickoff return. Gavin Williams had seven carries for 17 yards to go with two receptions for 10 yards.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz will take that kind of production each week with a deep running back room.

MIXING IT UP

Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras was 11-of-17 passing for 148 yards, but it was the choice of targets by Petras that was interesting.

Fourteen of Petras’ targets were either tight ends or running backs. Tight end Sam LaPorta was targeted seven times, with four catches for 77 yards. Tight end Luke Lachey had two catches for 37 yards.

Arland Bruce IV had the only reception by a wide receiver, a 5-yarder. Brody Brecht and Nico Ragaini were targeted once, and didn’t have a catch.

STEVENS FITTING IN

Stevens had a 25-yard field goal in the second quarter to go with his one in the fourth quarter.

Stevens is 4-for-4 in field goals and 6-for-6 in extra points this season after an inconsistent spring.

TAKING CARE OF THE BALL

Iowa was turnover-prone in its first two games of the season, but the Hawkeyes had their second consecutive game without losing the ball. The Hawkeyes are now plus-2 in turnovers this season, and have a 21-10 edge in points off turnovers.