Most Iowa fans expected their team to find the end zone again.
No one in the Hawkeye state expected Mark Weisman to do so three times against Northern Iowa.
After AIRBHG struck again and wiped out two more Hawkeyes running backs -- Damon Bullock and Greg Garmon -- Iowa turned to Weisman, a walk-on, to carry the load. Like many Iowa backs thrust into bigger roles, Weisman stepped up in a big way, rushing for 113 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries as the Hawkeyes beat Northern Iowa 27-16 at Kinnick Stadium.
Iowa had just one offensive touchdown through the first two games -- one of just two FBS teams with that sorry designation. But the Hawkeyes offense came alive early and often, going 60 yards in 10 plays on its opening possession and finishing with a 1-yard run by Weisman. When Bullock left with an undisclosed injury and Garmon banged up his shoulder, Weisman continued to produce.
Weisman for Heisman? Too soon.
Quarterback James Vandenberg played an efficient if unspectacular game, completing 18-of-28 passes for 228 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He finally got more help from his receivers, especially Kevonte Martin-Manley, who recorded five catches for 101 yards.
The Hawkeyes defense buckled down nicely against the run, surrendering just 94 yards on 24 carries, and safety Tom Donatell recorded a key third-quarter interception.
While Iowa should beat Northern Iowa, there was concern after such anemic offensive performances in the first two games. Although the lack of depth at running back continues to be a big storyline in Iowa City, Iowa can feel a bit better about its performance heading into the final non-league game next week against Central Michigan.
The Hawkeyes will need to be better than this when Big Ten play rolls around, but they definitely took a step today.