Someone on Twitter asked me the last season in which Iowa didn’t throw a touchdown pass in its first three games. I hadn’t realized the Hawkeyes had zero TD passes this year, but so it is. They got their three touchdowns against Northern Iowa Saturday on short Mark Weisman runs, and their other TD was a Damon Bullock run against Northern Illinois.
Iowa is 2-1, so the zero passing TDs through three games is more an oddity than a cause for despair. Akron has 10 passing TDs, Syracuse 9, Penn State 8. They’re all 1-2.
I doubted I’d find the answer to the question, because box scores get harder to find the further back you go. But shortly before I was ready to punt this little project, I came upon 1999, Kirk Ferentz’s first season as Iowa’s coach. And found this:
Nebraska L 42-7 Iowa’s lone score came with 2:30 left on the game on Tim Dodge’s 10-yard return of a blocked punt.
at Iowa State L 17-10 The Hawkeyes’ TD came on a 1-yard Robbie Crockett run in the third quarter. It was his only carry of the game.
A strange game, that one. ISU had a 444-230 advantage in total yards and had the ball for 37 1/2 minutes. Darren Davis rushed 38 times for 235 yards. But the Cyclones committed 13 penalties for 99 yards, and had two turnovers to Iowa’s none, and the score stayed close.
Northern Illinois W 24-0 Iowa quarterback Randy Reiners had a tidy effort, completing 13 of 18 passes without an interception for 145 yards. But the touchdowns came on a Reiners 1-yard keeper, an 87-yard return of an attempted NIU field goal by LeVar Woods, and a 9-yard run by Ladell Betts, who rushed 33 times for 174 yards.
It was a night game. I have no idea why. I was there, but that season was pretty barren when it came to signature moments.
Anyway, Iowa led 3-0 after three quarters, then had its happiest quarter of the season with those three TDs.
There was a fourth-straight game without a passing TD. Iowa lost at Michigan State, 49-3.
In Game 5, Penn State whipped the Hawkeyes, 31-7, but Iowa’s score came on a 40-yard pass play. It was Reiners to fullback Rob Thein. That was Reiners’ 16th and last TD pass of his career. He suffered a neck injury the following week at Northwestern, and was out for the rest of the season.
Scott Mullens took over at QB, and finished the season with five TD throws. Betts somehow rushed for 875 yards in 11 games, showing how good he really was.
Time passes quickly. Reiners’ son, Ezra Reiners, rushed for 181 yards and three touchdowns and threw a touchdown pass in Iowa City West’s 58-27 win over Cedar Rapids Prairie last Friday night. West is 4-0.
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