Defense Comes Up Big

Nov. 12, 2005

Freshman defensive lineman Mitch King had just sacked Wisconsin quarterback John Stocco, stymieing another fourth-quarter comeback effort of the nationally ranked Badgers when Ed Podolak, the color commentator on the Hawkeye Radio Network’s broadcast boomed:

“My gosh. Mitch King has had a highlight film today!”

Yes. Mitch King. Jovon Johnson, Chad Greenway, Abdul Hodge, Kenny Iwebema – the entire defense for Coach Kirk Ferentz’s Hawkeyes certainly did, providing the muscle for a come-from-behind 20-10 victory over Wisconsin in an emotion-filled Camp Randall Stadium Saturday, a venue jammed to capacity for the final home game in the 16-year career of UW Head Coach Barry Alvarez.

“My gosh. Mitch King has had a highlight film today!”
Ed Podolak, analyst, Hawkeye Radio Network

“We knew it would be a tough game, but we came to play. I can’t begin to say how proud I am of our team. It’s been a tough couple weeks, but they remained committed, worked hard, and won a big game today,” said Ferentz.

The victory improves Iowa’s overall record to 6-4, pushing its Big Ten mark to 4-3, and makes the Hawkeyes eligible for a fifth straight post-season bowl game. The destination isn’t clear, but it doesn’t matter. The Hawkeyes successfully rebounded from two very difficult defeats and will be packing their bags over the holidays…preferably with one more victory to their credit: A win over Minnesota next Saturday in historic Kinnick Stadium.

The victory — a road win over a nationally ranked opponent in an emotion-charged facility — also snapped an 11-game home winning streak for Wisconsin and meant that “The Heartland Trophy” – the bronzed bull provided to the winner of the annual battle on the gridiron – was headed back to Iowa City for another year.

“Not that bad,” Ferentz said post-game when asked about handing his long-time friend, Alvarez, a loss in his home finale.

“Our guys needed this one. We needed it bad. So, yeah. I have to be honest, he’s had a great run, but I’m glad we played well and got a victory today.”

Iowa’s defense was stout. It limited the Big Ten Conference’s top offense to just 10 points, 276 total yard and a measly 19 yards on the ground.

“We hadn’t seen that defense all season,” Ferentz said. “We knew it was there. It was improving each and every week. We grew up a lot today.”

King, Greenway, Hodge and Co., corralled Brian Calhoun – Wisconsin’s running back sensation – to 18 totals yards on 15 carries and harassed Stocco to a 21-for-38 day and only one trip to the end zone.

Meanwhile, Iowa’s offense flourished. After uncharacteristically falling behind 10-0 midway through the first quarter, Iowa trimmed the lead to 10-3 in the second quarter with a 35-yard field goal by Kyle Schlicher.

Then, with the wind – and rain – at its back, the Hawkeyes struck for 14 third-quarter points on a pair of Drew Tate touchdown passes, the first a 6-yarder to Champ Davis at 10:11 and the second a 13-yard strike with just over a minute left in the stanza.

And, in the final 15 minutes, Iowa used the determined, straight-ahead-with-a-flash running of Albert Young to salt away the victory. The Hawkeye sophomore gained 127 yards on 26 carries. He thrived behind an offensive line that got stronger and more dominant as the game marched on into the night.

Offensive heroics noted, in the end, this game belong probably belongs to the defense.

“They work hard, really hard, and it pays off with victories like this. I couldn’t be more proud of them and the staff. It was a great performance in very difficult circumstances,” said Ferentz.