Chuck Hartlieb was embarrassed early, but he left Northwestern red-faced.
Hartlieb, with help from flanker Quinn Early, threw a Big Ten-record seven touchdown passes Saturday to lead Iowa to a 52-24 victory over the Wildcats.
"I was throwing good," said Hartlieb, who completed 25 of 32 passes for 471 yards. "They came at me hard the first couple of series but things got going for us and the rest speaks for itself."
Hartlieb, who threw an early interception that Doug Pennington returned 75 yards for a touchdown to give Northwestern a 17-7 lead, threw four scoring passes to Early--including a 95-yard play that set an Iowa record and tied a Big Ten mark.
His seven touchdown passes broke the Big Ten record of six shared by Chuck Long of Iowa and Dave Wilson of Illinois.
Hartlieb threw five touchdown passes in the first half, which he closed by completing 13 straight passes. He missed his first attempt in the second half but made amends with touchdowns of 44 yards and the 95-yarder to Early, which tied the conference mark set by quarterback Len Dawson and receiver Erich Barnes of Purdue in 1955.
Early had 10 catches for 256 yards, breaking the yardage record of 252 by Wisconsin's Al Toon.
"My best single game ever," Early said. "That's the first time I've ever caught more than one touchdown pass in a college game."
Hartlieb and Early left the game after the 95-yard touchdown in the third quarter, but Early came back to break Toon's record. He needed 10 yards and came back in the fourth quarter, measured off the yardage and caught a 13-yard pass from Dan McGwire.
"We needed the victory to stay in the bowl picture," said Coach Hayden Fry of Iowa (7-3, 4-2). "Our guys did a super job adjusting to the defense."
Why did Fry keep passing?
"No. 1, our running backs are hurt and we didn't want to hurt them further," Fry said. "No. 2, we're a passing team. Northwestern was blitzing, we had no alternatives."
Coach Francis Peay of Northwestern (1-7-1, 1-5) agreed.
"I would have to give Iowa credit for execution," Peay said. "Once you train a quarterback, you can't untrain him. Iowa's primarily a passing team."
Hartlieb completed 22 of 26 passes for 371 yards in the first half, when he passed for 5 of his touchdowns.
Early's four touchdowns in one game set an Iowa record and tied a Big Ten mark set by Reggie Arnold of Purdue in 1977.
Northwestern took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards in 13 plays for a touchdown capped by Mike Greenfield's 10-yard pass to Randy McClellan.
On Iowa's first series, Northwestern's Bob Bucaro recovered David Hudson's fumble, and Ira Adler's 25-yard field goal made it 10-0.
Hartlieb's 35-yard touchdown pass to Early with 2:10 left in the first quarter made it 10-7, but Pennington's interception return made it 17-7 before Hartlieb really got going.
Hartlieb hit Travis Watkins with touchdown passes for 22 and 7 yards to give Iowa the lead for good.