12:10 PM ET, October 19, 2002
Memorial Stadium (Bloomington, IN), Bloomington, IN
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) -- Iowa didn't need to play its best game to prove it could stay in contention for a Big Ten title.
Only 11 minutes was required Saturday.
Grant Steen set a school record with three interceptions, Fred Russell ran for two touchdowns and Brad Banks threw for another as the Hawkeyes (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today, No. 15 AP)built an early lead and rolled to a 24-8 victory at Indiana.
"We didn't play the crisp kind of football you've got to play to win consistently,'' Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "We didn't tackle well, so it's a little disappointing.''
Iowa entered the game with one of the conference's top ground games and the nation's No. 2 run defense.
The Hawkeyes matched their reputation in the first 11 minutes -- then coasted.
Iowa players acknowledged they "lost focus'' after taking control with an early 17-0 lead en route to their best start since 1991.
"We expected to come out and move the ball and put some points on the board, and that's what we did,'' Banks said. "Then we just slacked off later in the game.''
The victory ended Indiana's six-game home winning streak, which was tied with Minnesota for the longest in the conference. Iowa (7-1, 4-0 Big Ten) can now concentrate on a clash next weekend at No. 11 Michigan that will help determine whether Iowa stays in the Big Ten title hunt.
While it wasn't the kind of performance Ferentz has come to expect, it certainly sufficed.
Iowa had 168 yards rushing, 57 fewer than their average, and allowed Indiana (3-4, 1-2) to run for 146 yards -- the first time an opponent has topped 100 yards this season. Brian Lewis finished with a career-high 121 yards on 25 carries.
What kept the Hawkeyes in control, however, was the early scoring barrage, an aggressive defense that produced six sacks and Steen, whose interceptions ended three Hoosier drives inside the Iowa 10.
"I was in the right place at the right time, I guess,'' Steen said. "And they really came at the right time, too, all in the red zone.''
For Indiana, it was a case of blown opportunities.
One week after rallying in the second half to upset No. 23 Wisconsin, the Hoosiers put themselves in position to duplicate the feat. But Iowa refused to let that happen.
The Hoosiers moved inside Iowa's 20 on each of their final drives and six times in all. Yet all Indiana could muster was a 23-yard field goal from Bryan Robertson to open the fourth quarter.
Three possessions ended with interceptions and two on downs.
"There were some critical mistakes that I made in the red zone that definitely hurt us,'' quarterback Gibran Hamdan said.
Indiana still managed to move the ball effectively with Lewis and Hamdan. Courtney Roby caught 11 passes for 198 yards -- the fifth-highest total in school history. Hamdan finished 21-of-48 for 335 yards after being named last week's Big Ten co-offensive player of the week.
Russell started the scoring with a 3-yard touchdown run on the game's opening possession.
Ed Hinkel's 38-yard punt return set up a 43-yard field goal from Nate Kaeding, and Russell's 2-yard touchdown run on the Hawkeyes' third series made it 17-0 just 10:51 into the game. Russell finished with 100 yards on 19 carries.
"At the start, everything was good,'' Russell said. "But then we lost focus for the next three quarters. But a victory is a victory.''
Indiana got only two Robertson field goals, from 45 and 23 yards, to close to 17-6 early in the fourth quarter, but the Hawkeyes refused to allow the Hoosiers to rally.
Banks sealed the win when he hooked up with a wide-open Maurice Brown on a 65-yard TD pass that made it 24-6, and the Hoosiers never had another chance to get close.
"The story of the game was that we got off to a great start in all three phases,'' Ferentz said. "Then somewhere in the second quarter, we started making mental errors and I thought we got outhustled.''