EVANSTON, Ill. — Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley had 179 yards passing with a touchdown and the defense allowed just 202 yards of total offense, lifting the 20th-ranked Hawkeyes to a 20-0 shutout of Northwestern on Saturday.
Mekhi Sargent had a rushing touchdown and Tyler Goodson added 58 yards rushing on 11 carries as Iowa (6-2, 3-2 in the Big Ten) won its second straight.
Iowa entered the game fifth in the nation in scoring defense (11.6 points) and 10th in total defense (275 yards per game). Northwestern’s deepest advance into Iowa territory was the 28-yard line late in the third quarter.
The Hawkeyes earned their second shutout of the season and fourth since the beginning of last season.
“Rarely is anything easy in conference play, and there’s certainly nothing automatic,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “A lot of good things out there and probably the most important thing was playing clean football. We protected the football.
“What can I say about the defense? Obviously, I’m very, very pleased with what they did.”
Quarterback Aidan Smith completed 18 of 32 passes for 138 yards with an interception for Northwestern (1-6, 0-5), which dropped its fifth straight.
“I think we’re going to watch the tape and be disappointed,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “There were some opportunities there to make some plays. We’ve got to be more efficient at that position.”
With his TD pass, Stanley has 62 in his career and moved into second place on Iowa’s all-time list. He entered tied with Drew Tate at 61. Chuck Long heads the list with 74.
Iowa took a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter on a 50-yard TD pass from Stanley to wide receiver Tyrone Tracy. He caught the ball at about the 30 over the middle, broke a tackle with a spin move and raced down the sideline into the end zone.
Keith Duncan hit a 40-yard field goal early in the second quarter for a 10-0 halftime lead. The Hawkeyes stretched the lead to 17-0 on a 1-yard run by Sargent with 5:23 left in the third.
Duncan added a 28-yard field goal early in the fourth to close out the scoring.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes have a two-game win streak heading into a bye. With games against Wisconsin and Minnesota following the week off, they have a chance to take control of the Big Ten West.
Northwestern: Whether it’s Smith or Hunter Johnson under center, the offense continues to sputter. The Wildcats managed just 70 yards of total offense in the first half. At 1-6, they’d have to win out to become bowl eligible. A more realistic goal for the remainder of the season would be either Smith or Johnson showing some consistency heading into the offseason.
Iowa: At No. 13 Wisconsin on Nov. 9.
Northwestern: At Indiana next Saturday.