By MICHAEL MAROT, AP Sports Writer
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — C.J. Beathard forgot about the pain and focused on the win Saturday.
The Iowa quarterback, who has been battling a groin injury, scored the go-ahead touchdown by leaping over a pile in the final minute of the first half when he appeared to re-injure himself, then threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to George Kittle midway through the fourth quarter to seal a critical 35-27 victory at Indiana.
Iowa (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten, No. 9 CFP) has matched the best start in school history. The only other time the Hawkeyes opened a season with nine straight wins was 2009, and with only home games against Minnesota and Purdue and a trip to Nebraska left, they have a good chance to win the Big Ten West.
If the Hawkeyes run the table, they will return to Indiana for the Dec. 5 conference championship game and they could even be a surprise entrant in the postseason playoff.
It wouldn't have happened without Beathard's gutty performance. After spending the past month dealing with the injury, Beathard hurt himself with a hard landing on a 7-yard TD run with 17 seconds left in the first half to give Iowa a 21-17 lead. He could be seen wincing throughout the second half but hung in there, finishing 19 of 31 for 233 yards, as he improved to 10-0 as a starter.
For the Hoosiers (4-5, 0-5 Big Ten), it was another frustrating finish. They had closed within 21-20 early in the fourth quarter when Griffin Oakes made a 28-yard field goal.
But LeShun Daniels answered with a 1-yard TD run on the next series, and Beathard put the Hawkeyes up by two scores with the TD pass that made it 35-20.
Nate Sudfeld's 11-yard touchdown pass to Michael Cooper with 2:24 gave Indiana one last gasp, but Iowa recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
Indiana has lost three times in six weeks to unbeaten teams, has lost five straight overall and 30 in a row to Top 10 teams since winning at Ohio State in October 1987.
This one was not for lack of effort.
Jordan Howard ran 22 times for 174 yards and two TDs against a defense that was allowing just 85.8 yards per game and had only allowed one rushing TD all season. Sudfeld wound up 16 of 37 for 180 yards, despite six drops, with one interception and a record-breaking TD pass. He moved past Kellen Lewis on the school's career list with 49.
But Iowa was more balanced.
Akrum Wadley scored on a 65-yard run on the second offensive play of the game and finished with 12 carries and 120 yards. Daniels ran 23 times for 78 yards and two scores. And cornerback Desmond King picked off his eighth pass, tying Iowa's single-season school record.
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