IOWA CITY, Iowa - It was a fury of points in a Kinnick Stadium already back in full voice after a season of near-silence.
Iowa had two touchdowns in the first 2 minutes, 15 seconds of Saturday’s season opener against Indiana, and the old stadium had quite the pulse.
Tyler Goodson raced 56 yards for a touchdown on Iowa’s third offensive play of the game.
Riley Moss had a 30-yard interception return on the Hoosiers’ fourth play of the game.
Kinnick was at its loudest throat, and the Hawkeyes enjoyed it.
The No. 18 Hawkeyes’ 34-6 win over the No. 17 Hoosiers was a perfect way to start a season of renewal after the COVID-19 pandemic provided a disjointed year in which Iowa and the rest of the Big Ten played its games in front of nearly empty stadiums.
“It was crazy, we kind of forgot about it,” said Moss, who had two interception returns for touchdowns. “It felt like my first game in Kinnick again because it was loud and rowdy, and it was absolutely amazing. The one thing I’ll never forget in my life is running out of that tunnel, especially today. That was one of the loudest crowds in Kinnick so far for me.”
The Hawkeyes never let the Hoosiers get into any rhythm. The best way to disrupt a big-play team like Indiana, coach Kirk Ferentz said, was to have the perfect tempo.
Make them uneasy, Ferentz said.
“It was good team defense,” Ferentz said. “I know that sounds mundane, but it really is. That’s how we play.”
The Hawkeyes intercepted Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr., three times — safety Dane Belton had the other pick — and held the Hoosiers to just 233 yards of offense on 64 plays.
“If we can get a spark play — and picks are a spark play, obviously — you’re not banking on that, but when you get those that’s super.”
Moss snatched Penix’s second pass of the game when it sailed through the hands of receiver D.J. Matthews. Moss sprinted down the right sideline for the 30-yard touchdown.
“We were (in) Cover-2 and they ran the quick out and I had someone behind me,” Moss said. “They were trying to run a smash concept to the boundary, so I was sitting there. (Penix) threw the ball, I was ready to break on it and tackle (Matthews), and then I see the ball pop up and I got super excited. I was foaming from the mouth. Caught the ball and took off quick. It happened quick and I didn’t realize I scored a touchdown until I was on the bench and I was like, ‘Holy cow, that just happened.’”
Iowa was up 14-0 at that point, but it was a lead that felt like a chasm for the Hoosiers.
“We preached that all week, about we need to start fast, because there have been some examples over the last few years of us coming out and playing fast and getting off to a great start,” Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras said. “Those games usually end pretty well for us. There have been examples in the past, also, of us not playing great at first, getting off to a slow start. You always want to come out firing like we did.”
Moss was in perfect position to grab a Penix pass in the second quarter, running 55 yards for a touchdown that pushed the lead to 28-3.
Moss has a reputation among the Hawkeyes as being a master of big plays — he has eight interceptions in his career.
“I’ve always seen Riley as a playmaker,” defensive end John Waggoner said. “He goes hard, and he shows up every day to work. He is a competitor, so in my mind he is going to go make plays, and you obviously saw that today.”
“It's funny, when we recruited him, it wasn't like we were on him as a sophomore or freshman. It was later in the process,” Ferentz said. “But he kept impressing us, and then since he's been here he's done nothing but impress us. If you get his personality, he's loose and light and all that kind of stuff. He's a light-hearted guy that way. But he competes hard out there and he's got some good skills and ability and he competes hard and he's got a lot of pride in what he does.”
There was still a whole half to play, but the Hawkeyes had taken everything out of the Hoosiers.
Iowa’s offense was inconsistent at times, but steady enough for a win. Goodson rushed for 99 yards, and quarterback Spencer Petras was 13-of-27 passing for 145 yards to go with a 9-yard touchdown run. The Hawkeyes lost two fumbles, but neither were costly.
“One game is not a full season,” Petras said. “We have to play like this every week.”
The Hawkeyes go to No. 7 Iowa State next Saturday, with one notch taken out of the Big Ten schedule with big plays on a day when everything was loud again.
“It was a ton of fun,” Petras said.