Camp Central: Home Sweet Home

Aug. 2, 2008

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IOWA CITY – There’s no place like home and home – historic Kinnick Stadium – will be a familiar place for the University of Iowa football team in the opening weeks of the 2008 campaign. The Hawkeyes will do something rather rare for an Iowa football team: Open the year with three straight home games.

Kirk Ferentz’s 10th Iowa football team will entertain, in order, Maine (Aug. 30), Florida International (Sept. 6) and Iowa State (Sept. 13) in the annual Hy-Vee Cy-Hawk Series game before travelling to Pittsburgh to square off against the Big East Conference’s Pitt Panthers on Sept. 20. All three home games will be televised live by the Big Ten Network with kickoffs slated at shortly after 11 a.m. Iowa time each day.

And, after that first road trip of the season – one of five for the Hawkeyes (Iowa plays seven home games in 2008) – Iowa returns to Iowa City to open the 2008 Big Ten Conference season against Northwestern on the last Saturday of September. That game will mark the first time since the 2001 season that the Hawkeyes will have opened their league season with a home game. Click HERE to review Iowa’s full schedule.

It is likely Ferentz will be asked about his team’s schedule Monday when he meets the media shortly after the lunch hour to open the UI’s 2008 “Football Media Day.” Iowa’s veteran head coach has been on the sidelines each of the last two times the Hawkeyes’ have opened with three straight in their “Friendly Confines.”

Ferentz was in his third season as head coach of the Hawkeyes the last time this scheduling oddity occurred. Iowa rattle off victories over Kent State, Miami of Ohio and the aforementioned game against Penn State in the first three games of the 2001 season. Iowa was to have travelled to Iowa State on Sept. 15, but that event was moved to the last weekend of the season as a result of the tragedies that struck on Sept. 11.

Ferentz was Iowa’s offensive line coach in 1986 when the Hawkeyes opened the year with victories over Iowa State, Northern Illinois and Texas-El Paso, and then tacked on a road win versus Michigan State and before returning to Kinnick to post a victory over Wisconsin. Those five victories propelled Iowa to a 9-3 season that included a season-ending victory over San Diego State in the first of two consecutive appearances in the Holiday Bowl for Hall of Fame coach Hayden Fry and the Hawkeyes.

Does a team like this year’s Iowa squad – one that is probably a little less experienced across the full spectrum of offense, defense and special teams than a head coach would like…a team that has a couple of important pieces returning to the playing field from season-ending injuries a year ago…a team that has some “holes to fill” – benefit from a schedule like the one that’s in front of the Hawkeyes?

Iowa football history says, “Yes.” Nineteen different UI football teams have started their seasons with three straight games in Iowa City. Fourteen times the Hawkeyes were 3-0 when the final gun sounded to signal the end of Game 3.