- Associated Press - Saturday, November 7, 2015

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - C.J. Beathard had the perfect ending for a painful Saturday.

He kept No. 10 Iowa unbeaten and in prime position to make a playoff run.

The Hawkeyes quarterback, who has battled a groin injury for the past month, hurt his back on a leaping go-ahead touchdown run late in the first half, continued to play and threw a 10-yard TD pass to George Kittle with 6:03 left in the game to wrap up a crucial 35-27 victory at Indiana.

Beathard made it look easy.

“Nothing serious, I just bruised my back,” he said. “I’m not 100 percent, but when the adrenaline’s going, it felt pretty good.”

So he refused to let anything derail the Hawkeyes’ surprising playoff push.

Iowa (No. 9 CFP) is 9-0 for the first time since 2009 and only for the second time ever.

At 5-0 in conference play and with three regular-season games remaining - home against Minnesota and Purdue and at Nebraska - the Hawkeyes have a clear path to their first Big Ten West title and a return trip to Indiana for the conference championship game on Dec. 5.

And Beathard, the first Iowa quarterback to win his first nine starts, improved to 10-0 with a gritty performance. He shrugged off the nicks to finish 19 of 31 with 233 yards and the touchdown and ran five times for 38 yards to continue Iowa’s pursuit of perfection.

In fact, Beathard may have saved the pursuit of perfection with a daring 7-yard quarterback draw that had him diving over a pile of defenders and the ball coming out at the goal line. When the replay review didn’t show enough to overturn the call, Iowa led 21-17 with 17 seconds left in the half.

The Hawkeyes never trailed again.

“That was a great effort on his part, and I guess we can all quit asking about what percent he is because I have no idea and certainly he doesn’t either,” coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It’s a good enough percent to look like a football player out there.”

For the Hoosiers (4-5, 0-5 Big Ten), it was another frustrating finish.

They’ve lost five straight overall, three of them to unbeaten teams. They still need two wins to become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2007, and they’ve now lost 30 straight to top 10 teams dating to an October 1987 win at then-No. 9 Ohio State.

Jordan Howard had 22 carries for 174 yards and two TDs against a defense that came into Saturday allowing just 85.8 yards per game and only one rushing score all season.

And the Hoosiers certainly had their chances to pull off an upset.

Griffin Oakes made a 28-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 21-20 early in the fourth quarter.

But Beathard answered with a methodical drive, capped by LeShun Daniels’ 1-yard TD run. On the next series, Beathard extended the lead to 35-20 with the TD pass to Kittle.

Nate Sudfeld gave Indiana one last gasp with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Michael Cooper with 2:24 left, but Iowa recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.

Sudfeld wound up 16 of 37 for 180 yards with one interception and his 49th career scoring pass - one more than Kellen Lewis to put him atop the school chart.

“Just not enough plays in the passing game,” Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said. “A few dropped passes, probably could have been a lot cleaner.”

Iowa was more balanced, though.

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.

Cornerback Desmond King picked off his eighth pass, tying Iowa’s single-season school record, and Beathard kept the Hawkeyes’ resurgence on track.

“We wanted to change the culture around this program, and we’re not stopping here,” he said. “We want it to continue.”

___

AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org

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