Reprinted with the permission from Land of 10:
IOWA CITY, Iowa — In the midst of describing how Iowa manhandled No. 6 Ohio State on Saturday, center James Daniels stopped talking.
It wasn’t because he didn’t have the words. He just saw quarterback Nate Stanley’s 226-yard, 5 touchdown stat line scroll across the bottom line on ESPN.
“Oh my god,” Daniels said. “Five TD’s. Dang.”
Daniels wasn’t the only one whose jaw dropped over Stanley’s play. The quarterback put together arguably his best performance of the season, serving as the offensive catalyst in the Hawkeyes’ 55-24 victory.
“He led our offense,” Daniels said. “It’s that simple. He kept making plays and just kept coming. He never stopped.”
If Iowa were to win, he had no other choice. The game plan asked Stanley to throw it early, throw it downfield and throw it often to start the game. His accuracy was a little erratic early, but it didn’t take him long to start connecting downfield with his receivers.
Five different Hawkeyes caught a pass of at least 18 yards, and he joins Chuck Long as the only quarterback in program history to throw at least five touchdown passes twice in a season.
“I talked about our team growing, and that’s part of it,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He’s done a lot of good things this year and had some tough plays, which anybody that plays quarterback is going to (have).
“But the way he just keeps coming back, and he did a lot of really good things today against really good competition.”
His best work came with his tight ends. He connected with Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson on nine passes for 125 yards and four touchdowns.
“Everybody came to play and the tight ends and receivers,” Stanley said. “They all made plays today. So all credit to them for making the grabs and running the routes how they are supposed to.”
Stanley tried deflecting attention from himself postgame. He did a good job of it, but not as good a job of evading Ohio State defenders.
With the ball at the Ohio State 2-yard line, it looked like Stanley was going down for a sack. An Ohio State defensive lineman had Stanley backtracking. He wrapped up the quarterback, but Stanley wiggled his foot out of the tackle, giving him time to find Hockenson in the end zone.
“That is just part of being a quarterback,” Stanley said. “Sometimes you have to make plays when they are necessary.
“Again, T.J. made a great adjustment. He saw it and put his arm back inside that he would be able to get off that defender and make a play.”
His contribution to the touchdown isn’t as simple as Stanley makes it sound.
“Probably my favorite play is the one where he’s got the guy bringing him down and he finds a way to get the ball in the end zone there for a touchdown,” Ferentz said. “A lot of big throws by him.”
Stanley didn’t want to discuss his play, but couldn’t hide his excitement in the victory. He entered his postgame news conference with a smile.
“You play best when you are having fun,” Stanley said. “I’m not saying that I’m not having fun. I’ve had a great time all year. I think when you can just go out and play and not worry about the pressure or the circumstances around you that is when you can come out and excel.”