IOWA CITY, Iowa — An offseason filled with hype followed Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen to Iowa City.
The Hawkeyes defense brought Allen down a peg — and showed it might be strong enough to carry the team while the offense finds its footing.
Nate Stanley threw three touchdown passes in his first career start and Iowa shut down Wyoming 24-3 on Saturday.
Noah Fant caught two of those TD tosses for the Hawkeyes (1-0), who held the Cowboys (0-1) to just 59 yards rushing on 30 tries and picked off Allen twice.
“You’re not going to slow him down unless you play really good team defense,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said of the highly-touted Allen, who was 23 of 40 passing for 174 yards. “There were some bumps in the road, but that traces back to younger, more inexperienced players. The guys played through it.”
Stanley’s first career touchdown throw, which went to Fant on fourth-and-2, put Iowa ahead 7-3. Stanley connected with Fant for a 27-yard score following a bizarre muffed punt by Wyoming, and he hit Nick Easley from 45 yards out to give the Hawkeyes a 21-3 edge midway through the third quarter.
Wyoming’s tepid rushing attack left Allen without much space to work with. But Allen also threw an interception deep in Iowa territory with 11:32 left, and he threw another one right to lineman Brady Reiff after being blitzed with 4:36 to go.
Allen completed just one pass longer than 14 yards.
“(We) couldn’t really get a running game established,” Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said. “We tried. We knew their front seven would be very formidable, as they were.”
Akrum Wadley rushed for 116 yards for Iowa.
Stanley was 8 of 15 for 125 yards.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes front seven put pressure on the Cowboys offense all afternoon, and its young secondary made its fair share of plays. Stanley looked more comfortable as the game wore on, but he committed three turnovers (two fumbles, one interception). He won’t be able to afford to make so many mistakes next week at Iowa State. “I’m a little upset with some stuff that went on with ball security. My teammates did a great job of picking me up,” Stanley said.
Wyoming: Allen, who many believe could be a first-round pick should he declare for the NFL draft, took what the Iowa defense gave him — which wasn’t much. Allen’s ability to escape danger was evident on a number of plays, but he ultimately failed to deliver against the best defense he might face all year. “He can hurt you with his feet and his arm,” Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell said of Allen. “We just had to understand coming into the first game that we’re going to have to communicate well, we’re going to have to play with good fundamentals and make sure tackles,” Jewell said.
If the first game was any indication, Iowa plans to use Wadley as often as it can. Wadley had 24 carries, most notably gaining 23 yards on a third-and-21 in the fourth quarter, while Nevada transfer James Butler finished with 47 yards on 10 carries.
EASLEY DOES IT
Iowa is expecting a lot out of Easley, a junior college transfer, and he showed why in the opener. In addition to his TD catch, Easley caught a Stanley throw behind him to give his new quarterback his first completion of 2017. Easley finished with 77 yards on four catches.
THE PAST IS PROLOGUE
Allen shouldn’t feel too bad about his lackluster performance against Iowa, the only Power Five team Wyoming will play on the road this season. In 2003, Iowa picked off Miami (Ohio) quarterback Ben Roethlisberger four times in a 21-3 win — and things turned out pretty well for Roethlisberger in the NFL. “They’re really good, obviously. They held us to three points and I’m not sure about the stats, but I know it wasn’t very pretty,” Allen said.
Iowa travels 130 miles west to face the rival Cyclones next Saturday.
Wyoming hosts Gardner-Webb next Saturday.