The Iowa football team pulled out their first win over a ranked team in 2019 over Minnesota Saturday. Four Hawks graded out quite well in the win.
Against Minnesota, the Iowa football team got the ground game ignited with freshman Tyler Goodson getting the start and the revamped offensive line did a solid job of protecting Nate Stanley against the Gopher pass rush (for the most part).
On the opposite side, AJ Epenesa was a terror as he got 2.5 sacks and forced a fumble against the Gophers. To nobody’s surprise, Epenesa was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for that performance.
Now, after filing all the grades, AJ Epenesa also happened to grade out as one of the best defensive ends not just in the Big Ten but in the country, and he was joined by three other Iowa football players on the Big Ten team of the week with one of those guys joining him on the national team of the week.
Offensively, the line put together one of it’s best performances of the season and Pro Football Focus agreed.
Three-fifths of the Iowa Hawkeyes’ offensive line was named to the Pro Football Focus Big Ten Offensive Team of the Week. Tristan Wirfs is starting to become quite a regular on this list, but seeing freshman center Tyler Linderbaum and Alaric Jackson on the list is exciting. Both entered this season with a significant amount of buzz: Linderbaum because of his potential at the college level and Jackson because of his potential at the professional level.
Linderbaum’s performance wasn’t just good enough to get him the top center spot in the Big Ten though. He also was the highest-graded center in the nation, which I am pretty sure makes him the first offensive player for Iowa to make the list this year.
As we mentioned earlier, defensive end AJ Epenesa also made both the Big Ten Defensive Team of the Week and the national team of the week after a performance that made people remember just why he has been talked about as a top-10 pick the majority of the season.
With Illinois coming up in a few days, it would be great to see a few more Iowa football players manage to snag a spot on the list, most notably Nate Stanley who I thought put together one heck of a game against Minnesota this past weekend.
Regardless of what happens next week though, it’s great to see the Hawkeye representation on this week’s team.