IOWA CITY — As much as a wide receiver can take over a game, Marvin McNutt did just that in the second half.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound receiver gave the Hawkeyes a whiff of hope late in their 37-21 loss to Michigan State on Saturday at Kinnick Stadium.
He caught his 10th TD pass of the season (a 3-yarder) and he snared a 48-yard pass to set up running back Marcus Coker’s 2-yard TD run in the third quarter, but that was as far as McNutt could take it.
Iowa was smothered in pretty much every other area. But even in the rubble, McNutt’s performance was historic.
McNutt finished with eight catches for 130 yards and a TD. Along the way, he broke Derrell Johnson-Koulianos’ career receiving yardage record, with McNutt’s 2,635 passing Johnson-Koulianos’ 2,616. He also set Iowa’s season record for receiving yards, standing at 1,089 yards and topping Keith Chappelle’s 1,037 set in 1980.
“The biggest thing I would say about him, whether it be career-wise or this year, he’s improving week-t0-week,” coach Kirk Ferentz said. “That’s what good players are supposed to do and he’s doing it. He’s setting a good example for everyone else on our football team.”
As you can imagine in the wake of the loss, McNutt wasn’t in the mood for reflection.
“Right now, it’s not even about the records, it’s about the team record,” McNutt said. “What can we do to better ourselves as a team.”
The records aren’t just coming to McNutt. He’s going to get them.
Late in the first quarter, McNutt reached behind and made a one-handed stab of a pass from quarterback James Vandenberg. McNutt is one of a few wide receivers in the country who can make that play. It’s a play you’re certain to see on ESPN’s SportsCenter at least a few times.
“He really played hard and provided us with some spark,” Vandenberg said. “That’s what you know you’re going to get with Marv. I’m just really happy he’s on our side.”
With three games left and the Hawkeyes’ offense needing everything it can get out of McNutt, there’s more to come.
He needs one TD catch to tie Mo Brown (2002) for the season TD reception record (11). McNutt also moved to No. 2 on Iowa’s career receptions list. With 153 career receptions, he trails Kevin Kasper (157) and Johnson-Koulianos (173).
“He’s a productive player, a very good player, he’s the reason why they have a great program here, one of the reasons in why they win,” MSU coach Mark Dantonio said. “So, he should be congratulated for it. He’s had a tremendous career.”
McNutt has 65 receptions this season with three more games, including the bowl. Kasper holds the season receptions record with 85.
He already holds Iowa’s career TD reception record with 26 and counting. But he’s not finished and he’s doing his best to make sure the Hawkeyes aren’t, either.
“There’s always emotion,” McNutt said. “We have to keep going, continue to fight and stay together as a team.”