After two weeks of ridicule, the Hawkeyes offense was the driving force of a team desperately looking to find its footing before Big Ten play kicks off next week. And not even a 4-hour lightning delay could stop them from striking the scoreboard for three touchdowns. There’s no punchline for this one, other than the fact they took 7 hours to score 27 points.

The returns of Nico Ragaini and Keagan Johnson opened up the playbook, and quarterback Spencer Petras played by far his best game of the season. He completed 14 of his 26 pass attempts and didn’t turn the ball over.

“We just felt like that had been missing a little bit the last couple weeks,” Petras said. “Just being able to keep the receivers fresh allows you to send it down the field a little bit more.”

Petras completed three passes of over 20 yards or more, including a 21-yard connection to Arland Bruce IV for his first passing touchdown of the season.

“I think the whole unit together — we just felt cohesive,” Bruce said after the game. “I think everything just clicked today. It was really fun.”

Petras got who he calls his best friend back into the huddle as well with the return of Ragaini. The two had a quiet night until the fourth quarter when Petras let one go deep and over the middle and Ragaini ripped the ball away from two defenders for a 46-yard completion.

Ragaini said afterwards he wishes he could’ve made an impact sooner.

“I feel like very easily we could be 3-0. Luckily it’s early in the year and we’re going to keep getting better every single week — that’s what good teams do. Good teams don’t sit and cry about a loss and think about it all year long.”

What perhaps is the most encouraging element of the night is it could’ve easily been better. Petras almost connected with Keagan Johnson & Brody Brecht for what would have been a pair of long-range scores, but the play just wasn’t made.

There are no “almosts” in the stat sheet, but Kirk Ferentz says his quarterback’s game passed the eyeball test.

“Spencer I thought made some beautiful throws tonight. Some real near misses, which is encouraging. If we combine that with a good run game, hopefully we can do the things we want to do.”

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Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras warms up before an NCAA college football game against Nevada, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)