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Hawkeyes win fifth straight

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.''

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