Hawkeye Mashup: Top Ten Ferentz-era Games

July 6, 2010

Written by Jon Miller

Hawkeye Nation

Marc Morehouse at the Gazette is putting together his Top Ten games of the Ferentz era for his blog, On Iowa. Fellow Gazette writer Mike Hlas is following suit with his own list, as is Scott Dochterman. It appears to be a fun Gazette family affair as we get closer and close to the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon on August 2nd and 3rd in Chicago, and just the kind of summertime conversation I love to read and take part in. .

The links above take you to their lists.

I am sure this is going to spawn a lot of online conversations this month, so kudos to the fellas for starting it out. There are a lot of ways to look at this, as you can say your favorite ten games, the most significant ten games, the most exciting ten games, etc.

I haven’t given serious thought to an entire top ten ranking, but here are some of the most important games of the Ferentz era from my point of view.

Iowa 21, Michigan State 16, 2000: It snapped Iowa’s 13 game losing streak, it took place in Kinnick and it was Ferentz’s first Big Ten win; he had been 0-9 to that point. I’ll never forget the raw emotion that Ferentz showed after that win, as if the weight of the world had been lifted off of his shoulders…and had the camera panned to Bob Bowlsby’s box, the same could have been said about him…or at least, the weight of the state. Whispers were starting to become audible groans that Bowlsby had perhaps made a hiring blunder in Ferentz. The ‘We wanted Stoops and you screwed things up!’ camp was loud and proud at that time time. This at least kept the volume level from going much louder…Iowa would lose their next two games against Illinois and Ohio State by a combined score of 69-10, then they lost 13-7 to Wisconsin before beating Penn State in double-overtime at Happy Valley and then knocking off a ranked Northwestern team the following week at home after the Cats had put up 50 on Michigan in a win at the Big House. Iowa played the last game of the year at Minnesota without an injured Bob Sanders and Benny Sapp, and lost 27-24, and the 2000 season would be the last year in the Ferentz era to date where Iowa was less than .500 after the final regular season game.

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Iowa 19, Texas Tech 16, 2001: The Alamo Bowl win. Iowa’s five losses came by 9, 3, 6, 6 & 3 that year. They got a late Nate Kaeding kick to win the Alamo Bowl, and afterwards on the field as he was holding the championship trophy above his head and addressing the Iowa fans, Kirk Ferentz uttered these famous seven words: “The Hawks are back! Here we go!” Boy, was he right. Counting that game, Iowa won 33 of their next 40 games, three straight seasons where they won at least 10 games, three straight years ranked #8 in the final poll of the year and three straight January bowl games. The 2001 team was capable of being a 10-win team, they just hadn’t learned how to win the close ones yet. DID YOU REMEMBER: That offense averaged 32.6 points per game, the 5th best single season average in Iowa football history.

Iowa 34, Michigan 9, 2002: The Bullies of the Big Ten came to play, and Michigan was manhandled in The Big House as it had seldom been in school history. Michigan gained just 171 total yards of offense that day (22 on the ground), converted just 12 first downs and had the ball for less than 22 minutes. I suspect if you go back through the annals of the Iowa-Michigan series you would be hard pressed to find a more dominating performance, other than the shutout the Hawks put on the Wolverines back in the mid-1980’s. This was the exclamation point victory of one of the greatest Iowa football seasons in all time, and the nation took notice. The 2002 Iowa team is probably one of the better teams in the last 30 years of college football to not win a national championship. After that game (Iowa’s ninth of the year) Iowa had exactly 1,925 yards rushing and 1,925 yards passing. DID YOU REMEMBER: Michigan wound up finishing that season at 10-3, ranked in the top ten and lost AT eventual national champ Ohio State 14-9?

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Iowa 40, ISU 24, 2003: Iowa snapped Iowa State’s five-game winning streak in the series with this win in Ames, but the final score was not indicative of the numbers inside the lines. This game stands out to me as a hallmark Ferentz-era game where his team did what it had to do when it had to do it. ISU had 22 1st downs to Iowa’s 10. ISU had 390 yards to Iowa’s 243. Iowa was 2 of 13 on third downs that day and ISU had the ball for nine more minutes. Iowa’s special teams won the day, with blocked punts and Nate Kaeding hitting four field goals, plus a nifty 42-yard run from Nathan Chandler.

Iowa 6, Penn State 4, 2004: It’s one of my all time favorite Iowa football games, due to what it meant for Coach Ferentz. He had just lost his father the week leading up to his game, and he coached and Brian Ferentz played with heavy hearts. After the game, Kirk was very emotional, as you might expect, a quality I greatly admire in him. While this might not be one of the most important games from a program building standpoint, it’s one of my all time favorites. Probably deserves to be on a different list but I had not thought about it in some time before looking at the list of all the games and wanted to include it.

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Iowa 30, LSU 25, 2005: The Catch. Tate to Holloway. History. One of the greatest finishes in the history of bowl games and perhaps the biggest ‘mountaintop’ moment I have ever experienced as an Iowa fan. The win allowed Iowa to finish the season ranked #8 in the land…it had a sizable viewing audience, as it was the lead in to the Rose Bowl. It kept Iowa in the conversation among the nation’s elite, something very important for this program, which is why the 2010 season is so very important for the next five or six years for the program. Plus, I was standing on the sidelines in the endzone where Holloway caught the ball…outside of the birth of my two children and my wedding day, it was the greatest day of my life.

COMING WEDNESDAY: The most important games of the Ferentz-era, years 2005 through 2009, and my Top 10.

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