Five things to think about following the Iowa football team's 38-14 win over Northern Iowa on Saturday night at Kinnick Stadium:
1. The good
There's a lot to like about the offensive numbers Iowa put together against the Panthers, starting with the 545 yards of offense the Hawkeyes accumulated while running 81 plays.
The total offensive output breaks down to an average of 6.7 yards gained per snap, a number that will win a lot of football games especially when compared to the 3.9 yards the Iowa defense was allowing while limiting UNI to 59 plays.
Iowa's 545 yards were the eighth most collected by the Hawkeyes during coach Kirk Ferentz's 20 seasons and that was helped by a 3-for-4 success rate on fourth-down conversions.
In addition to learning in that situation that fullback Brady Ross has the acrobatic abilities of a gymnast, displayed in a 3-yard somersault for a first down on a fourth-and-1 play during a first-half touchdown drive, Iowa improved to 5-for-6 on the season in moving the chains on fourth down.
2. The really good
The Iowa defense continued its dominant ways against a Northern Iowa team still working through some quarterback issues although Eli Dunne pinned down the starting job for next weekend's game against Hampton with an 18-of-28 performance for 200 yards in the second half at Kinnick.
Despite that, the Hawkeyes' defense has been downright salty throughout the first three weeks of the season.
Iowa woke up Sunday morning ranking second in the country in total defense, allowing 209 yards per game, and was tied for second best in the Football Bowl Subdivision with a scoring defense that has allowed eight points and a rushing defense that is surrendering 42 yards per game.
With A.J. Epenesa leading the way with four, Iowa shares third in the country this week with 12 sacks.
The sophomore end is part of a defensive front which has stifled opponents' rushing plans. The Hawkeyes are limiting opponents to 1.54 yards per carry. Only two defenses in the country are doing better.
UNI finished with six rushing yards, the second-lowest total by an Iowa opponent during the Kirk Ferentz era. The only better defensive effort in that span came on Sept. 4, 2004 when Kent State was held to a minus-13 yards on the ground as the Hawkeyes opened the season with a 39-7 win.
3. The it's about time
Iowa rediscovered its passing game at the expense of the Northern Iowa defense.
Nate Stanley jumped from 13th to seventh on the Big Ten passing charts with his 23-of-28 performance, having now completed 63.3 percent of the 79 throws he has made this season.
Stanley's 10 connections with Nick Easley covered a career-high 103 yards and were the most passes hauled down by a Hawkeye receiver in a single game since Keenan Davis caught 10 passes for 129 yards to rally Iowa to a 2011 victory against Pittsburgh.
Noah Fant worked his way into the Hawkeye record book as well, catching the 14th touchdown pass of his career to provide Iowa with its first points of the game. Fant passed Mike Flagg for the most TD catches in Hawkeye history with the 5-yard catch.
4. The bad
Iowa improved to 3-0 for the eighth time in Kirk Ferentz's tenure, but the Hawkeyes have some work to do this week before Saturday's 7:30 p.m. Big Ten opener against Wisconsin.
Iowa was flagged for 10 penalties covering 88 yards against UNI, both quarterbacks who saw action in the game threw interceptions and after giving up just one quarterback sack through three games, the Panthers blew through the Iowa offensive line for three on Saturday.
Stanley's second pick in three games was the result of a poor decision on a throw over the middle against incoming pressure from the UNI defense. It came in the second quarter as Iowa was looking to add to a 21-0 lead.
Coach Kirk Ferentz referenced the issues as "some little mental discipline things'' during his postgame comments, but quickly added that needs to be cleaned up as the Hawkeyes prepare to face Big Ten competition and a finer line between winning and losing.
5. The ugly
That pretty much describes the mood Wisconsin will bring to Kinnick Stadium next weekend.
It was brutal Saturday around the Big Ten, with league teams suffering seven losses to non-conference foes on the same weekend for the first time since the Associated Press began charting such things in 1936.
The Badgers fell from sixth to 18th in this week's AP poll after contributing a 24-21 loss to BYU to that cause.
A team that had not been bashful about discussing the possibility of contending for a national title this season suddenly finds itself regrouping before opening Big Ten play at Iowa.
The Badgers, who haven't lost in three visits to Iowa City since 2008, gave up four plays of 20 yards or more after surrendering just one in two games and a veteran Wisconsin offense converted on just 4-of-13 third-down opportunities in the upset.
While the Big Ten West title won't be decided for weeks, Saturday's game at Iowa will be a tone setter and features the two preseason favorites in the division.
Don't expect the Badgers to show up looking to mess around, among reasons Kirk Ferentz has been quick to grab his own team's attention in talking about the work that Iowa has to put in to improve this week.