IOWA CITY, Iowa(AP) Ricky Stanzi threw for a season-high 296 yards and three touchdowns, and No. 13 Iowa slipped past Arkansas State 24-21 on Saturday to give the Hawkeyes their best start since 1995.
Marvin McNutt caught two touchdown passes for Iowa (5-0), which allowed the Red Wolves to hang around far too long - much like it did in a narrow win over Northern Iowa in the opener.
Arkansas State pulled within 24-21 with 2:01 left, when Corey Leonard capped a 17-play drive with a 4-yard TD pass to Trevor Gillott . The Red Wolves got the ball back with 10 seconds left at their own 18, but Leonard missed on two long throws.
Stanzi threw touchdown passes of 33 and 41 yards on Iowa's first two drives, and his 43-yard TD toss to McNutt early in the second half put the Hawkeyes ahead 21-7. But Stanzi also threw an interception that Demario Davis brought back 75 yards for a touchdown with 14:41 left.
Leonard had 216 yards passing and two TDs to lead Arkansas State (1-3), which lost its third straight game and fell to 0-9 against Top 25 teams.
Iowa had a chance to bury the pesky Red Wolves until Davis's interception return - complete with a backflip into the end zone - that cut the Hawkeyes' lead to seven.
The stunt drew a penalty, though, allowing Iowa to start near midfield for its next drive, and Daniel Murray 's 20-yard field goal put the Hawkeyes on top 24-14 with 10 minutes left.
Arkansas State didn't flinch. The Red Wolves moved 68 yards, including a 26-yard completion by Leonard on third-and-27 and a jump pass to a wide-open Gillott for a touchdown.
Iowa insisted it wouldn't overlook the Red Wolves with Michigan coming to town next week, but it appeared to do just that. The sluggish win was reminiscent of when the Hawkeyes needed to block two field goals in the closing seconds to beat Northern Iowa, an FCS school.
Arkansas State entered the third quarter with some momentum after a late second-quarter touchdown, only to watch Iowa safety Tyler Sash pick off his fifth pass of the year on a long ball that sailed on Leonard. Two plays later, Stanzi and McNutt hooked up for the second time to put the Hawkeyes ahead 21-7.
The Red Wolves then tried to shake things up with a fake punt, but that only put them in a deeper hole when Ryan Wilbourn was stopped short of the first down. Murray missed a 28-yard field goal, though, keeping it a two-touchdown game.
Stanzi threw a third-quarter interception deep in Iowa territory - his fourth straight game with at least one pick - but Iowa's defense held and Josh Arauco missed a 25-yard field goal.
After falling into an early 14-point hole, Arkansas State's defense stiffened and the Red Wolves got on the board by driving 89 yards in nine plays. Leonard found Brandon Thompkins for a 12-yard touchdown pass that cut Iowa's lead to 14-7 with 44 seconds left in the first half.
Stanzi, who's been criticized for opening games poorly, got off to a brilliant start. Throwing into a stiff and swirling wind, he threw touchdown passes of 33 yards to Trey Stross and 41 yards to McNutt to put Iowa ahead 14-0 midway through the first quarter.
Despite last week's win over then-No. 5 Penn State, Kinnick Stadium failed to sell out for just the second time in 40 games. Ironically, the last time Iowa didn't record a sellout came last year against Purdue, which also followed a big victory over Penn State.
The weather was a likely factor. The temperatures hovered in the low 50s - well below normal for Iowa City in early October - and those swirling winds made it feel much colder.