PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Iowa didn’t travel to Rutgers and get that big one-sided, bounce-back win in their Big Ten Conference opener.
The Hawkeyes got a win though, and that was an improvement over a week ago when they were stunned by North Dakota State in a loss that knocked them out of the Top 25.
Akrum Wadley scored on 26-yard run on the play after Iowa’s defense forced a turnover deep in Rutgers’ territory and the Hawkeyes showed some grit late in both halves in a 14-7 victory over tougher-than-expected Rutgers on Saturday.
“We know what kind of potential we have as a team and the ability we can play with,” Hawkeyes cornerback Desmond King said. “We know we are a better team than we are for the past two weeks. We haven’t played like we wanted to play.”
Safety Brandon Snyder set up the winning score by stripping the ball from receiver Andre Patton with just under nine minute to play to help Iowa (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) win its ninth straight regular-season conference game and its seventh straight league win on the road.
After being pushed back five yards on a false start after the turnover, Wadley — a Newark native — patiently followed his blockers around the left side for the go-ahead touchdown.
C.J. Beathard threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to tight end George Kittle late in the first half to give Iowa a 7-0 lead.
Rutgers (2-2, 0-1) tied the game early in the fourth quarter on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Chris Laviano to Patton.
The Scarlet Knights got to the Hawkeyes 17 after falling behind late, but Iowa came up with stops on third- and fourth-down runs to end the drive.
“They made some plays,” Rutgers coach Chris Ash said. “I felt like there were plays there that we had that we didn’t finish.”
Iowa took the lead late in the first half on Beathard’s touchdown pass to Kittle. It capped an eight-play, 99-yard drive that started after the Hawkeyes’ defense stopped the Scarlet Knights after they got a first-and-goal at the 3 on a 76-yard catch and run by Janarion Grant .
King stepped on Grant’s right leg at the end of the play and Rutgers’ dynamic receiver was knocked out of the game.
Beathard had runs of 14 and 12 yards on the drive and hit four passes, the last to a wide-open Kittle.
Rutgers tied the game on Laviano’s third-down pass to Patton in the left corner of the end zone with 12:45 left in regulation, capping a 13-play, 88-yard drive. Justin Goodwin had runs of 24 and 13 yards and Laviano had a 12-yard run.
IOWA: Won the game but probably didn’t show enough to get back in the rankings.
RUTGERS: The defense played its best game of the season, but the offense came up empty. If the Scarlet Knights continue to play this way they can be competitive against the middle to lower end of the conference.
The injury to Grant was never diagnosed. He could not put any weight on his left and had to be carted off. If he misses any significant time, the offense is in trouble. Ash had no comment on the injury.
Iowa linemen James Daniels and Sean Welsh returned after missing last week.
“I feel like we went out there and played our (butts) off,” Patton said. “I feel like we fought and we did like we were supposed to do, but we didn’t win.”
IOWA: The Hawkeyes returns to Iowa City for a Homecoming contest against Northwestern on Oct. 1.
RUTGERS: The Scarlet Knights travel to Columbus, Ohio to face Ohio State on Oct. 1 in coach Chris Ash’s first game against mentor Urban Meyer.