Ihmir Smith-Marsette’s unexpected blocker, Keith Duncan’s quiet time and big performances by former Hawkeyes in the NFL and elsewhere in college football are all part of today’s Hawkeye 10 @ 10.
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Here is today’s Hawkeye 10@10:
1. Ihmir Smith-Marsette had some help on his way to the end zone for Iowa’s first touchdown at Nebraska.
His blocker on the play was quarterback Nate Stanley, who took on that role after Stanley handed off to Tyler Goodson as he ran to the right.
Smith-Marsette, headed left, took a toss from Goodson around the left end and scored on the 45-yard play.
“All I had to do was receive the toss from the running back clean and I did that,’’ Smith-Marsette said. “Nate was out in front blocking, I thought he was going to stop. That’s what we usually do to protect him, you know, QB reasons.’’
That didn’t happen.
“He kept running and I thought somebody was coming. I looked past him and saw there was only person ahead of him so I was like, ‘I’ve got to get past you, Nate,’’’ Smith-Marsette said.
He found the extra burst, but disputed the notion that Stanley kept pace with him.
“For a little bit, maybe just for a little bit,’’ Smith-Marsette said.
2. Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa and kicker Keith Duncan were named this morning as the Big Ten defensive and special teams players of the week, respectively.
Epenesa was honored after recording a career-high 14 tackles in the Hawkeyes’ 27-24 victory at Nebraska, an effort which included two sacks and five tackles for a loss.
The junior had nine solo tackles in one of the most dominating performances of his career, helping the Hawkeyes to their fifth straight win in the series against the Cornhuskers and leading him to his second defensive player of the week honor of the season.
Duncan received his second straight special teams player of the week honor after kicking two field goals in the win, including a game winner from 48 yards with 1 second remaining in the game.
The junior also matched his previous best with a 49-yard field goal in the first half and hit all three of his PAT tries in the game. He has received weekly honors from the Big Ten three times this season.
Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins was named the Big Ten offensive player of the week and Northwestern running back Coco Azema was honored as the freshman of the week.
3. Things got a little chippy during the second half of Friday’s 27-24 win over Nebraska and Iowa receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette took responsibility for the penalty he received in the third quarter.
Some words had been going back and forth between both teams at that point and Smith-Marsette was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, moving Iowa from a third-and-short situation to a second-and-long at a time when the Hawkeyes could have used some offensive momentum.
“That was on me,’’ Smith-Marsette said. “But, I got my head back right.’’
4. Keith Duncan wanted some alone time as Nebraska called a pair of timeouts in an unsuccessful attempt to ice the Iowa kicker.
“I told Colten (Rastetter) to just stay away. I wanted to make certain my mind was right,’’ Duncan said shortly after drilling the game-winning 48-yard kick.
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Offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs said that wasn’t an issue.
“I think we all knew he was fine,’’ Wirfs said.
5. Chauncey Golston enjoyed some quality time with the Heroes Trophy following Friday’s 27-24 victory over Nebraska.
The junior defensive end said he made a sprint to the prize Iowa claimed for a fifth straight season.
“I went to the trophy and I was the only one there,’’ said Golston, who hauled the trophy off of the rainy turf at Memorial Stadium. “I can celebrate with Keith (Duncan) in the locker room with the trophy.’’
6. Ihmir Smith-Marsette’s 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that quickly answered a pick six by Nebraska caught Cornhuskers coach Scott Frost by surprise.
“We went into the game not wanting to kick to them,’’ he said. “We thought our coverage unit could do a good job. We were going to pooch the first couple.’’
Instead, Smith-Marsette took it to the end zone, a first for Iowa on a kickoff return since Jordan Cotton ran one back against Penn State in 2012.
“Their guy swiped at my ankle. I don’t know if he it or not. I just picked it up, just in case,’’ Smith-Marsette said. “If he didn’t, 95 no touch to the house.’’
7. It was a busy weekend for former Hawkeyes in the NFL, work that started with Micah Hyde recording six tackles and four assists for Buffalo in a win over Dallas and T.J. Hockenson catching six passes for 18 yards for Detroit in a loss to Chicago on Thanksgiving.
On Sunday, Anthony Hitchens had three tackles and two assists and Ben Niemann finished with three assists for the Chiefs in a win over the Raiders and Desmond King totaled three tackles and one assist for the Chargers in a loss to the Broncos, which had Noah Fant catch one pass for five yards.
Elsewhere, Josh Jackson finished with one tackle for the Packers in a win over the Giants, Amani Hooker had one tackle for the Titans in a win over the Colts, Adrian Clayborn had one assist for the Falcons in a loss to the Saints and George Kittle had one catch for a loss of three yards in the 49ers loss to the Ravens.
8. Hoisting traveling trophies has become a habit for the Hawkeyes.
Friday’s win at Nebraska gives Iowa a 16-4 record in their last 20 rivalry trophy games dating to the start of the 2015 season.
All four of the losses have come against Wisconsin.
The Hawkeyes are 5-0 against Iowa State, Minnesota and Nebraska in that timeframe.
9. Tyler Goodson topped 100 rushing yards for the first time in his career against Nebraska, finishing with 116 yards on 13 carries.
Goodson gained 98 of those yards in the first quarter, including 55 on the Hawkeyes’ second touchdown run of the opening quarter.
The run was the longest rushing touchdown by an Iowa player this season and the longest since Akrum Wadley scored on a 75-yard carry against Nebraska in 2016.
10. Manny Rugamba finished with 11 tackles and broke up a pass for Miami (Ohio) in a loss to Ball State last weekend, highlighting the work of former Hawkeyes elsewhere in college football.
Rugamba’s effort came as the RedHawks, winners of the East Division in the Mid-American Conference, finished a 7-5 regular season.
In the FCS playoffs, former Hawkeyes Romeo McKnight and Aaron Mends each recorded three tackles and Brandon Smith had two stops for Illinois State as it moved on with a 24-6 win over Southeast Missouri State.