Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, October 10, 2015
IOWA CITY, Iowa - There goes Jordan Canzeri, bolting off tackle 75 yards in the brilliant Iowa sunshine. Touchdown Iowa!
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And so it went on this glorious homecoming afternoon. Canzeri?s third quarter mad dash gave Iowa a 23-13 lead. And, it essentially iced the game in which the Hawkeyes rode Canzeri all day-and showed why they are the team to beat in the Big Ten West.
The No. 22 Hawkeyes ran left ? they ran right ? they ran up the middle ? you get the picture. By the time Illinois trudged off the field holding its head, Canzeri had a game for the ages. The 5-9, 192-pound senior ran for a school single-game record 43 times for 256 yards with a touchdown as Iowa finished with 278 yards on the ground. Illinois? It had just 46 yards rushing. That, ladies and gentlemen, was the story of this game.
Jordan Canzeri finishes 256 rush yds, 3rd-most in a game in #Iowa history. His 43 carries set a school single-game record. #Hawkeyes— BTNStatsGuys (@BTNStatsGuys) October 10, 2015
"It was just the adrenaline going. I knew I needed to do something for my team, just needed to fight and continue to push and make those plays," said Canzeri, whose 256 yards were the third-most in Iowa history and at one point carried the ball 11 plays in a row in the fourth quarter to help ice the game after Illinois posed a late threat.
It was vintage Iowa. Back in Mesquite, Nevada, legendary Hawkeye coach Hayden Fry had to be smiling. He had seen this script before. Heck, he had authored scripts like this with running backs like Ronnie Harmon, Nick Bell and Owen Gill back when he was building this program up in the 1980s and 1990s.
"I thought what he did was really special," said coach Kirk Ferentz, who is 6-0 for just the second time in 17 seasons at Iowa. "Certainly in the fourth quarter. That was just a special effort."
So, the Hawkeyes roll on, winners of six in a row. The last time Iowa started 6-0? It was 2009, when the team began 9-0 en route to winning the Orange Bowl and finishing No. 7 in the nation. Foreshadowing?
Up next is a game at Northwestern, which will be Iowa?s toughest test yet in battle of arguably the two best teams in the Big Ten West. The Wildcats are built a lot like the Hawkeyes-physical ground game led by a workhorse back in Justin Jackson; strong, athletic defense. It?s the quarterback play and passing attacks that is different. Iowa junior C.J. Beathard is more advanced than Northwestern redshirt freshman Clayton Thorson. And that gives the Hawkeyes a big edge and makes it the best in the West.
Beathard had a solid day today, completing 15-of-31 passes for 200 yards with two TDs. He has a nice chemistry with emerging true freshman wideout Jerminic Smith, who had four receptions for 118 yards. But, make no mistake about it: This was Canzeri?s day.
Before the season, LeShun Daniels was slated to be Iowa?s top back. He opened the season with 123 yards rushing in a win vs. Illinois State. But he hurt an ankle in a win at Iowa State the next week and hasn?t been able to get his job back. Canzeri rushed for 124 yards vs. Iowa State and hasn?t looked back. He has rushed for over 100 yards in four of six games this season and has 697 yards on the season with nine TDs while carrying 132 times.
Illinois entered this game with high hopes, bringing a 4-1 mark to Iowa City after rallying late to win the last two games. But, there would be no rally today. In fact, the Illini aren?t ready to win a game like this on the road against a team like this.
But, the Fighting Illini acquitted themselves under interim head coach Bill Cubit, who continues to distinguish himself since taking over after Tim Beckman was fired a week before the season started. Illinois? defense has made strides-and the passing game continued to move forward with another strong effort from QB Wes Lunt. It was an inability to run the ball that hurt the Illini today. Now, Illinois can take a breath as it enters a bye week.
?There?s a lot of emotion and energy being spent,? said Illinois coach Bill Cubit. ?So, now we get a little bit of a break. We can evaluate and see where we?re at with our control offensively and defensively. Sometimes you get caught up in the game plan and when you look at it you lose some of that quality control.?
Iowa?s win wasn?t without a price. Defensive end Drew Ott was on crutches with his right knee wrapped in the final quarter. Offensive tackle Ike Boettger left early with a left ankle injury. Ferentz didn't know the status of either after the game.
Torn ACL for DE Drew Ott.— Marc Morehouse (@marcmorehouse) October 10, 2015
"It was tough sledding for us," said Ferentz. "We've got some guys nicked up and some guys jumping in."
But, with the way this season is going for Iowa, you know the Hawkeyes will find a way rise to the occasion. And, when all else fails, just give the ball to Canzeri.
ICYMI: Jordan Canzeri rushed for 256 yards on a @HawkeyeFootball record 43 carries to give Iowa the win. http://t.co/NN9S9lxNc7— Iowa On BTN (@IowaOnBTN) October 10, 2015
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