BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Ihmir Smith-Marsette had an ulterior motive.
The Iowa sophomore wasn’t necessarily looking for a little extra flair when he ended a 60-yard kickoff return during the second quarter of Saturday’s 42-16 win at Indiana with a full-fledged leap over the Hoosiers' Jared Smolar.
"Who wants to get tackled by a kicker?" Smith-Marsette said following the Hawkeyes’ second straight Big Ten football road win. "Whatever move I had to make, I wasn’t going to be brought down by the kicker."
Smith-Marsette nearly paid for his acrobatics, landing gingerly after his improvised run back that saw him weave his way through the Hoosiers before positioning Iowa for a four-play touchdown drive.
As the Hawkeyes worked to extend a 14-10 lead on a 12-yard Nick Easley touchdown catch, Smith-Marsette was headed to the training room where everything checked out, and he later returned to the game in the second half on offense.
"I landed a little funny, and they wanted to make sure everything was good before I went back out there," Smith-Marsette said. "It’s all good."
Smith-Marsette and his replacement on kick returns after that point, Kyle Groeneweg, both dealt with sun issues during a game that started under cloud cover but was played primarily in the sunshine.
The pair, along with Devonte Young, returned kicks for the Hawkeyes on Saturday, averaging 34 yards on four returns to help give Iowa solid field position throughout the game.
"I like being back there, doing what I can to put the offense in a good place," Smith-Marsette said.
Sharing the wealth: Nate Stanley flirted with Iowa history on several fronts Saturday when he threw six touchdown passes to five different receivers.
His total was one shy of the school record of seven set by Chuck Hartlieb in a 1987 game against Northwestern and was matched twice by Chuck Long during his record-setting career.
"It’s an honor any time you’re mentioned with guys like that," Stanley said. "He’s a legendary player at the university."
Stanley also matched a school record held by Long when he threw touchdown passes to five different receivers, connecting with T.J. Hockenson twice in addition to throwing scoring passes to Noah Fant, Nick Easley, Toren Young and Austin Kelly.
Long threw six touchdown passes to five receivers in Iowa’s 1984 Freedom Bowl win over Texas, hitting Jonathan Hayes twice in addition to throwing one scoring pass each to Robert Smith, Bill Happel, Scott Helverson and Mike Flagg.
The century mark: Iowa tight ends Noah Fant and Hockenson both topped 100 receiving yards Saturday, believed to be the first time Hawkeye history that two tight ends topped the century mark in the same game.
"I love it when the tight ends are out there doing big things," Hockenson said. "We’re doing what we can to get open and make plays."
Successful start: Iowa reaches the midpoint of its regular-season schedule with a 5-1 record, including a 2-1 mark in the Big Ten.
"It’s a good place to be, and I feel like we’ve done a lot of good things, but the thing I like is that I see how much better we can become," senior center Keegan Render said. "We’ve had a lot of growth and gained a lot of experience, but there is room for more. I’m anxious for us to take that next step."
Kelly-Martin out: After undergoing concussion protocol for an injury suffered a week ago in the Minnesota game, starting running Ivory Kelly-Martin sat out Saturday for Iowa.
The sophomore did not make the trip to Bloomington, missing the third of the Hawkeyes’ six games this season because of injury.
Linebacker shuffle: Iowa started the game with safety Amani Hooker slipping into a lineup spot normally filled by a linebacker, while Kristian Welch made his first start at middle linebacker and Djimon Colbert opened at the weakside position.
"We’re fortunate to have the safeties who we can move around a bit and make that work," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "Right now, it’s been a bit out of necessity, but when we get Nick (Niemann) and Jack (Hockaday) back, we’ll have some more options to consider."
Niemann and Hockaday both sat out Saturday with leg injuries, and Ferentz said both have a chance to return to action for next weekend’s game against Maryland.
First-year starts: True freshmen Julius Brents and Riley Moss made their second straight starts for Iowa at cornerback Saturday.
Michael Ojemudia returned to action on defense, but Matt Hankins missed his second straight game.
Remembering Talifaferro: Indiana players replaced their traditional helmet logo with the number 44 on Saturday to honor the memory of George Taliaferro, a trailblazing former Hoosier who died Monday at the age of 91.
A moment of silence was observed and a video tribute recognized Taliaferro, a three-time all-American at Indiana who in 1948 became the first African-American selected in the NFL draft when he was chosen by the Chicago Bears in the 13th round.
Taliaferro learned that he had been selected in the draft over lunch in Chicago when a friend and former Iowa standout, Earl Banks, showed him an edition of the Chicago Defender newspaper which included a headline, "Taliaferro Drafted by Bears."