Sept. 3, 2011
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The National Football League held the final game of its preseason on the eve of Iowa's 34-7 victory over Tennessee Tech. Hawkeyes Marvin McNutt and Shaun Prater will be the `the league' next year; Saturday was one of those days that makes the decision to return to school a no-brainer.
Here is why you return for a diploma and a final chance to impress 70,585 fans inside Kinnick Stadium: prior to a 1-hour, 24-minute weather delay with 3:37 left in the third period, McNutt had six catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns with a long of 88. Prater had an 89-yard interception return for a touchdown.
The play by Prater is the fifth-longest interception return in school history; the James Vandenberg to McNutt scoring toss was the sixth-longest in school history. Neither McNutt nor Prater played when action resumed after the lightning interruption.
"The most important thing I envisioned (when I returned to the UI) was winning every single game," Prater said. "We have to take it a week at a time and hopefully we can keep this up."
Prater was part of a defense that allowed 296 total yards, but an overwhelming majority (202) came in the second half.
Iowa's offense gained 394 yards, with 246 coming through the air. McNutt accounted for the bulk of that yardage.
"You try not to think stat-wise," McNutt said. "As long as you can win and feel good about yourself and your play, it's a win in my book."
The Hawkeyes rolled to their 11th consecutive opening-day victory, even if the weather didn't always cooperate. McNutt spent the 84-minute delay eating oranges and drinking Gatorade; Prater, who went through three pairs of socks and two pairs of shoes, kept moving, stretched and attempted to stay warm.
"You didn't think (about the weather) once you started running your play," McNutt said. "You know you still have to do your job."
"As long as I can run and see, I'm fine," Prater said. "I really don't care how it is out there."
"I knew I was pretty close (to the sideline)," McNutt said of the second-period score. "I didn't know how close, but I wasn't going to stop until I heard a whistle. I knew it was a touchdown."
McNutt now has 94 career receptions and 18 receiving touchdowns. The record for most career receiving touchdowns is 21 by Tim Dwight and Danan Hughes.
"To Marvin's point, we need our best players playing their best and Marvin was ready to go today," UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said.
The longest Hawkeye interception return is 98 yards by Adam Shada against Purdue in 2006.
"(Tennessee Tech quarterback Tre Lamb) lofted it up in the air, I blocked the tight end out and tried to catch the pass," Prater said. "I saw all green, so I had to make sure I scored that touchdown."
It is the seventh career interception for Prater and his second touchdown return.
The Hawkeyes travel to Iowa State next Saturday with an 11 a.m. kickoff from Jack Trice Stadium.