Nov. 3, 2007
EVANSTON, Ill. — You would have been hard-pressed to find anyone in the grandstands at Ryan Field to tell you that Northwestern’s quarterback wasn’t the best signal caller on the playing field Saturday after the first 15 minutes of play in a Big Ten Conference football game against the University of Iowa. The Wildcats’ C.J. Bacher was awfully impressive in guiding the home team to a 14-0 advantage.
However, make no mistake. By the end of the contest, the better quarterback was the guy on the visiting team. The guy in black and gold. Iowa’s sophomore southpaw, Jake Christensen.
The never-get-down-on-his-teammates-or-himself native of Lockport, Ill., was brilliant in his second return to Chicagoland this fall, guiding the Hawkeyes to their second come-from-behind victory in as many weeks, a 28-17 thriller over Northwestern that snapped a two-game losing streak to the Wildcats, pushed Iowa to 5-5 overall in 2007 and moved the Hawkeyes to within one victory of being bowl eligible for the seventh consecutive season under UI Head Coach Kirk Ferentz.
“Jake grew up a little more today,” said UI Coach Kirk Ferentz of his field general.
“He hung in there like he has all season. Fortunately, our receivers didn’t get down on themselves like young guys could and really responded in the second half when we needed them to.”
Christensen completed 21 of 36 attempts for 299 yards and a touchdown. And he was brilliant in each of the Hawkeyes’ four touchdown drives.
- Drive 1: Christensen completed passes to Brandon Myers and a pair to Derrell Johnson-Koulianos before hooking up with Trey Stross on a 20-yard fade pass that cut Northwestern’s lead in half, 14-7.
- Drive 2: Christensen wasted little time re-establishing himself and the UI offense. He completed four passes – including a pretty 26-yarder to James Cleveland – before Albert Young burst around the right corner on a 16-yard run that pulled the Hawkeyes even.
- Drive 3: Iowa scored the first of its two fourth quarter touchdowns four plays after Christensen and Stross hooked up on a 53-yard pass and catch along the visiting team sideline that put the Hawkeyes’ on Northwestern’s seven yard line. It was Christensen’s third completion in the drive.
- Drive 4: Christensen and the Hawkeyes put the game firmly in the win column on their next possession and after Christensen and Johnson-Koulianos connected on a 32-yard completion on a second-and-20 play that put the ball on NU’s 10-yard line.
Iowa’s signal-caller completed 12 of 19 attempts for 203 yards in the second half. More importantly, he didn’t throw the ball to the other team – something NU’s Bacher did three times during the second half and twice in the fourth quarter.
He also spread it around, connecting with seven different Hawkeyes, a list that was headed by Johnson-Koulianos. The budding star had eight receptions for 119 yards. Cleveland had four catches for 43 yards, Stross three for 91 and the Hawkeyes’ first score.
Christensen and the Hawkeyes now turn their attention to the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the annual battle for Floyd of Rosedale next Saturday at historic Kinnick Stadium. A win will be Iowa’s sixth and will qualify the Hawkeyes for postseason competition. A win the following week against Western Michigan will move the Hawkeyes’ up the Big Ten Conference’s bowl game ladder and send the UI into postseason play with a four-game winning streak.
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