Experts and fans alike figured that the Iowa Hawkeyes game against Western Michigan would be a one-sided contest.
No one however, expected a 59-3 blowout win over the Broncos.
The Hawkeyes started this game with a scoring mentality and jumped out to an early 10-0 lead in the first quarter.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz viewed the game against Western Michigan as the final opportunity to fine tune some of the issues Iowa has had before Big Ten play begins.
The Iowa offense is currently ranked ninth in the Big Ten.On defense, the defensive line has only registered two sacks through four games — which ranks last in the Big Ten.
Ferentz never actually got his opportunity because of wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley and defensive back BJ Lowry.
Martin-Manley exploded in the second quarter for punt return touchdowns of 63 and 83 yards respectively.
Iowa Hawkeye wideout Kevonte Martin-Manley returns a punt against Western Michigan. The Hawkeyes prevailed 59-3.
The junior from Pontiac, Michigan ran for 184 total return yards — second most ever by a Big Ten player — en route to being named the Big Ten special teams player of the week.
While Martin-Manley only had one catch for six yards, he still accounted for 14 points and his part of the reason the Hawkeyes had a 35-point lead heading into halftime.
The other reason is Lowry.
Iowa’s secondary had become a worrisome topic over the first few games of the season. The Hawkeyes were giving up an average of 220 passing yards per game.
On Saturday, Ferentz’s group allowed only 135 yards through the air — the secondary’s lowest total of the season.
And managed two interceptions, both registered by Lowry. The senior from Cincinnati, Ohio returned both for touchdowns.
Lowry’s performance earned him Big Ten defensive player of the week honors.
It’s the first time Iowa has had multiple players named Big Ten players of the week since September 2009.
Iowa never trailed against Western Michigan and didn’t allow the Broncos offense to get in any type of rhythm.
The Hawkeye offense even with a comfortable lead, looked to give its young quarterback more experience given the imminent start of Big Ten play.
Sophomore Jake Rudock only threw for 134 yards on 15 passing attempts but managed to throw two touchdowns. The win against Western Michigan also marked the first game in which Rudock didn’t have a rushing touchdown.
Rudock was becoming more and more comfortable running the ball, which could have its negatives. Big Ten teams are known for having stout defenses and Rudock’s running capabilities are solid but not exceptional.
For the Hawkeyes to translate their early season success against Big Ten opponents, Rudock and the passing game will have to continue to grow and execute.
Iowa (3-1) will start Big Ten play and try to regain the Floyd of Rosedale against Minnesota (4-0) on September 28 in TCF Bank Stadium.