IOWA CITY, Iowa -- For a change, Iowa required no late-game heroics on Saturday.
It handled everything early against North Texas.
The Hawkeyes completed their first 4-0 start since 2009 and fourth in 17 years under coach Kirk Ferentz with a 62-16 win over Mean Green of Conference USA at Kinnick Stadium.
On the heels of Marshall Koehn's 57-yard field goal as time expired to beat Pitt and a furious fourth quarter from quarterback C.J. Beathard to top Iowa State, the Hawkeyes piled up 488 yards and were never threatened by North Texas.
Jordan Canzeri rushed for 115 yards and scored four touchdowns, the sixth such Iowa performance and first since Shonn Greene in 2008. Beathard completed all 15 of his throws in the first half and finished 18-of-21 for 278 yards and two scores -- and on a day that former Iowa QB Jake Rudock played well in Michigan's 31-0 win over Brigham Young. Not that people are comparing the pair, or anything.
From here, the road turns more difficult for resurgent Iowa, which opens Big Ten play next week at Wisconsin.
What the win means for Iowa: A perfect nonconference finish. And that’s significant, considering the gloomy predictions for the Hawkeyes in 2015. Iowa is getting healthy, too, as defensive end Drew Ott, running back LeShun Daniels and tight end Jake Duzey near a return to full speed. Suddenly, Iowa is very much a contender in the Big Ten West. With road games against the Badgers and Northwestern in next three weeks, there's much to be learned about Iowa in October.
What the loss means for North Texas: Back to work for the Mean Green, winless in three games to start coach Dan McCarney’s fifth season. The Conference USA opener next week against Southern Miss arrives with a fresh slate. North Texas showed some nice moments Saturday on offense, but not near enough to threaten Iowa.
Stat of the game: Koehn missed an extra point late in the third quarter. With Iowa up 32 points, it was of no significance -- except that the errant kick snapped a national-best, 59-game Iowa streak without a PAT miss. Oh well, Koehn still made the huge kicker to beat Pitt a week earlier as time expired. He can handle the setback.
Uh, what? Ferentz has generated headlines this month for his new propensity to take risks. So how about the decision of offensive coordinator, presumably endorsed by the head coach, to insert converted receiver Derrick Mitchell Jr. for his first touch of the football at running back in the second quarter? Sounds good -- until Davis dialed up a reverse, with Mitchell as the pitch man to Matt VandeBerg. The ball never got to VandeBerg. Mitchell fumbled. And North Texas recovered at the Iowa 6-yard line. It scored on the next play.