In the end, it was OK to laugh.
Iowa linebacker A.J. Edds had an onside kick ricochet off his chest and into fullback Brett Morse’s arms to wrap up the Hawkeyes’ 27-17 victory Saturday over Arizona.
“I need to get on the Jugs Machine,” the senior laughed on the bench.
It was OK to laugh.
Quarterback Ricky Stanzi gives up a pick six, laugh it off. The offense rushes for 40 yards in the second half, LOL. And watch for linebacker Pat Angerer at an open mike night. He works a little blue, but he’s a million laughs.
“I don’t know what the hell is going on,” Angerer responded to a question on Arizona’s failed fake field goal.
In the end, it was OK to laugh along with the 70,585 fans at Kinnick Stadium. Freshman running back Adam Robinson fueled the Hawkeyes (3-0) with 101 yards and two touchdowns.
Iowa’s defense embraced coordinator Norm Parker’s call for “six seconds of hell” and bolted down a rush offense that averaged 305.4 yards a game, allowing just 148 yards. Stanzi blew off a rocky first half and directed a monster 14-play, 8:30 drive, capped by running back Brandon Wegher’s 2-yard TD, for a 27-10 lead with 4:40 left. And the Hawkeyes held up their end of the bargain.
The stage is set for an undefeated showdown next week at Penn State (3-0) to open Big Ten play.
It’s the “white out.” It’s Beaver Stadium. It’s an ABC national prime time telecast.
“I can think of about 110,000 people who’ll think it’ll be real big,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “And they’ll all be wearing white T-shirts, too.”
Iowa’s offense was far from perfect, chugging out just 338 yards, but consider that the Hawkeyes were without left tackle Bryan Bulaga (undisclosed illness), tight end Tony Moeaki (ankle) and wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos (hamstring).
Ferentz said they remain “day-to-day.” Bulaga wasn’t cleared to return to practice this week and hasn’t put on pads since Sept. 8.
“They all had a chance, that’s the good news,” Ferentz said. “The bad news is there’s no way to predict it right now. We just kind of have to wait and see.”
Saturday, in the end, they could laugh about it.
Iowa’s defense held Arizona (2-1) to 94 yards in the second half. Before the Wildcats broke through to make it 27-17 1:53 left, the Cats’ second half went punt, punt, punt, safety Tyler Sash’s interception that turned into Daniel Murray’s 40-yard field goal and punt.
After he went 4 of 8 for 50 yards in the first half, UA quarterback Matt Scott was 0 for 6 in the second half, including the Sash pick. He was eventually pulled. Running back Nic Grigsby, who came in as the No. 2 rusher in the nation averaging 162.5, was held to 75 yards on 11 carries.
Grigsby had a 58-yarder stopped a yard short of a touchdown by cornerback Amari Spievey. The Hawkeyes held UA to a field goal but that kind of ripped out the Cats’ heart and showed it to them.
“We knew defensively they’re as good as anybody we’ve played over the last … USC included, these guys are efficient,” said Arizona Coach Mike Stoops, the former Iowa All-American defensive back. “They’re bigger, they’re faster than people want to give them credit for. Their safeties cover a lot of ground, they protect their guys with the guys up front.
“My impression of them hasn’t changed any; they’re a very good team. I think they’re better once you play them in person than some people want to give them credit for.”
If the goal-line stand didn’t kill the Cats, the third-and-23 did.
Iowa looked at a third-and-23 from its 32 and handed the ball to Robinson. He broke one tackle, another and then broke open, going 43 yards to UA’s 25 before he was tracked down. Stanzi, who finished 20 of 32 for 205 yards, hit wide receiver Marvin McNutt for a 34-yard gain to UA’s 1 and Robinson finished it for a 14-10 lead Iowa wouldn’t give back.
“There aren’t a lot of great calls on third-and-23. I always let Ken (offensive coordinator O’Keefe) handle those,” Ferentz joked. “Gladly.”
Robinson, who limped off with a thigh injury but said he was fine, just thanked his offensive line.
“I saw a lot of green and realized, we can convert this,” Robinson said.
He wasn’t laughing and that’s the theme. Penn State isn’t a laughing matter.