Defense Anybody?

Oct. 3, 2008

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Two of the nation’s top running backs will square off in Spartan Stadium Saturday at 11 a.m. Iowa time when the Iowa Hawkeyes and junior Shonn Greene visit the Michigan State Spartans and senior Javon Ringer. The game will be televised live by ESPN2.

As much as that fact – “two of the nation’s best” – has captured the headlines this week in Iowa and Michigan, it’s very possible that the game will be determined as much if not more by the response of the two team’s defenses.

Both are stout. Iowa leads the Big Ten Conference in scoring defense at 10.2 points per game. But the Spartans aren’t bad, allowing just 16.8 points through their first five games.

Iowa has allowed its first five opponents only 100 yards a game on the ground; Michigan State just 123. Iowa’s pass defense has performed a little better to date than the Spartans’, allowing its opponents 182 yards on average through the air compared to State’s 229.

“For the most part we’re playing pretty well defensively, give or take a series like the first one of the second half (against Northwestern), or a play here or a play there,” Ferentz said when he met the media on Tuesday.

The University of Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz will open its 2008 Big Ten Conference season Saturday against Northwestern at 11 a.m. inside historic Kinnick Stadium. The game — which is also Iowa’s 2008 Homecoming event — will be televised live by ESPN Classic.

To celebrate Kirk’s 10th season as the Hawkeyes’ head coach, – with Kirk’s assistance – has identified a baker’s dozen (that’s 13 for those fans who don’t really know what a “baker’s dozen” means) plus one of the biggest victories over the previous nine seasons. We’ll reveal a handful each Saturday for the next five Saturdays. On the following Tuesday, fans are invited to return to to vote for their favorite of the group that was revealed.

Last week — in “Round Two” – fans selected Iowa’s double-overtime victory at Penn State during the 2000 season trumped the Hawkeyes’ 30-7 victory over Wisconsin during the UI’s 2004 Big Ten championship season by a mere six votes.

After the finalists are selected in late October, fans will then have the next 10 days to select what they think is the greatest victory during the “Kirk Ferentz Era” with one very lucky voter winning four tickets to their choice of any game on the Hawkeyes’ 2009 schedule.

We hope you enjoy reliving the past as we march our way what promises to be an exciting end to the Hawkeyes’ 2008 non-conference season and the first few games of the 2008 Big Ten Conference slate.

Go Hawks!

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This game ended on one of the greatest plays in Iowa history — a pass pattern called “all up” that culminated in a 56-yard touchdown pass from Drew Tate to Warren Holloway as time expired, giving No. 12 Iowa a 30-25 win over No. 13 LSU in the Capital One Bowl. It marked the third consecutive season with 10 or more victories for the Hawkeyes. Running back Marques Simmons gave Iowa a 24-12 lead with 12:48 remaining on a 4-yard scoring run. Tate completed 20 of 32 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns. Ed Hinkel caught 10 passes for 93 yards. Holloway caught four passes for 72 yards. LSU controlled the majority of the game clock — 34:12 to 25:48 — due in part because the Hawkeye ground game picked up just 47 yards on 29 attempts.

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Quarterback Brad Banks connected with tight end Dallas Clark for a 7-yard touchdown with 1:07 remaining as No. 24 Iowa rallied past Purdue 31-28 inside Kinnick Stadium. It was a back-and-forth contest with Purdue grabbing a 14-3 lead, the Hawkeyes sprinting ahead 24-14 only to slip behind once again, 28-24, on Jon Goldsberry’s 2-yard touchdown run with 5:45 left. Banks completed 14 of 22 passes for 226 and two touchdowns. Clark caught three of those balls for 116 yards, including a 95-yarder that gave the Hawkeyes a 10-point lead. One of the biggest plays on the final drive was a quarterback draw by Banks (Iowa had no timeouts remaining) that took the ball from the Hawkeye 13 to the Purdue 43. Fred Russell led Iowa’s ground game by rushing for 109 yards on 22 attempts. There was no shortage of other huge individual efforts — Bob Sanders blocked a field goal attempt that Antwan Allen returned 85 yards…Sean Considine blocked a punt that Jermire Roberts recovered in the end zone…Adolphus Shelton intercepted Purdue’s final pass attempt with 14 seconds remaining in the game.

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With depth at running back becoming thinner with a knee injury to Jermelle Lewis (the third running back to be injured during the season), the Hawkeyes relied on the arm of Drew Tate and defeated Michigan State 38-16 for their first of eight consecutive wins. Tate completed 25 of 36 passes for 340 yards and a touchdown. It was the first 300-plus yard performance for an Iowa quarterback since Jon Buetjer threw for 380 against Indiana in 2000. The Hawkeyes scored on two of their first three possessions and it marked the third time that Tate completed 10 or more consecutive passes in a game. Eight different Iowa receivers caught balls, led by Ed Hinkel with seven receptions for 98 yards and a touchdown and Clinton Solomon with four receptions for 105 yards. The Hawkeyes completed pass plays for 44, 43 and 28 yards.

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ROUND THREE WINNER: Iowa 26, Penn State 23 (2ot)

Iowa’s defense forced four turnovers and held Wisconsin’s ground attack to 41 yards on 30 attempts during a 30-7 victory inside Kinnick Stadium. Iowa was rated No. 17 in the nation and Wisconsin was No. 9. The Hawkeyes claimed the Big Ten championship for the second time in three seasons. Drew Tate completed 15 of 24 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns. Clinton Solomon caught six passes for 100 yards and two scores.

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Senior defensive back Ryan Hansen intercepted a tipped pass in the second overtime, giving Iowa its first road victory in 12 games, 26-23, over Penn State on before 95,437 fans at Beaver Stadium. Hawkeye kicker Nate Kaeding gave Iowa a three-point lead in the second overtime with a 26-yard field goal. When the Nittany Lions received the ball, quarterback Rashard Casey hit tight end Tony Stewart in the chest with a pass, but the ball bounced in the air and Hansen stepped in for an interception at Iowa’s 14-yard line. Kaeding tied a school record with four field goals, including a career-long 49-yarder. Quarterback Kyle McCann completed 25 of 37 passes for 232 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Freshman defensive back Benny Sapp made 10 tackles, had a sack and broke up four passes. The victory was Iowa’s first on the road since a 37-14 win at Illinois on Sept. 26, 1998. It was the first overtime game ever played by the Hawkeyes.

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Iowa’s offense scored on its first four drives and the defense held Indiana to seven points in the second half. Bob Sanders was named National and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after compiling 25 tackles. Iowa snapped a three-game losing streak to Indiana and elusive nemesis Antwaan Randle El, 42-28, inside Kinnick Stadium. Randle-El and the Hoosiers’ option offense gained 468 yards, including 308 on the ground, but Iowa ran 50 offensive plays to Indiana’s 84 and gained 454 yards, averaging 9.1 yards a play to Indiana’s 5.6. The Hawkeyes were a perfect balance, rushing for 226 and passing for 228. They scored touchdowns on their first four drives, and played a game of one-up with Randle El, matching and surpassing him along the way. Iowa’s Kahlil Hill caught three passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns. Ladell Betts rushed 22 times for 172 yards.

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ROUND TWO WINNER: Iowa 37, Florida 17

A 45-21 victory against Minnesota gave Iowa its first Big Ten championship since 1990, its first undefeated conference record wince 1922, its first 11-win season and its first nine-game winning streak. The Hawkeyes rushed for 365 yards (Fred Russell gained 194, Jermelle Lewis picked up 101) and converted three Golden Gopher turnovers into touchdowns. Although the game was played in the Metrodome, there were an estimated 32,000 Iowa fans in attendance. After the final gun, Hawkeye fans tore down the goal posts and carried them a couple laps around the Metrodome before leaving them on the concourse. Quarterback Brad Banks threw two touchdown passes and rushed for two more scores.

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Quarterback Kyle McCann completed 17 of 27 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns as Iowa defeated a high-powered Northwestern team, 27-27, at Kinnick Stadium. McCann’s 1-yard scoring dive with 6-minutes, 58-seconds left in the game sealed the victory and gave Iowa its first win over a team ranked in the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN polls since a victory over No. 18 Purdue in 1997. It also was the first time Iowa won consecutive games since beating Indiana and Purdue in ’97. It also gave the Hawkeyes three Big Ten victories for the first time since ’97. The Hawkeyes scored on three straight possessions between the second and third quarter and took a 20-3 lead on McCann’s 42-yard aerial to Kevin Kasper with 10:13 left in the third period. With 12 minutes left in the game, McCann engineered a 10-play, 57-yard drive, capping it with a 1-yard dive to give Iowa a 27-10 lead with 6:58 left. Iowa middle linebacker Roger Meyer made a game-high 16 tackles, including three for loss.

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Iowa won a New Year’s Day bowl for the first time since the 1959 Rose Bowl with a stifling 37-17 rout of Florida in the Outback Bowl. MVP Fred Russell rushed for 150 yards and a touchdown, leading the Hawkeyes to double-digit victories in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history. Nathan Chandler completed 13 of 25 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown. The Iowa defense held the Gators to 57 rushing yards. The Hawkeye offensive line was at the top of its game, helping Iowa to 238 yards rushing, converting 7 of 18 third downs and building a nine-minute advantage in time of possession (34:10 to 25:50).

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ROUND ONE WINNER: Iowa 42, Penn State 35 (ot)

Nate Kaeding booted four field goals — the final one from 47 yards with 44 seconds remaining — as Iowa defeated Texas Tech 19-16 in the Alamo Bowl. It was Iowa’s first bowl victory since defeating Texas Tech 27-0 in the 1996 Alamo Bowl. The Hawkeyes dominated time of possession (35:03 to 24:57). Running back Aaron Greving, who replaced Ladell Betts after three plays, rushed for 115 yards on 25 carries and scored Iowa’s lone touchdown. Quarterback Kyle McCann completed his first 12 passes. Greving, who was named the game’s offensive MVP, rode Iowa’s offensive line to a big first half, when he gained 82 yards on 13 carries. Iowa’s winning drive included a 21-yard completion to Hill, who led Iowa with six catches for 49 yards, and 16-yard scramble by McCann, who completed 19 of 26 for 161 yards.

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Coach Ferentz’s father, John, passed away in Pennsylvania six days before this low-scoring game. A day after the funeral, No. 25 Iowa defeated Penn State 6-4 in State College for its fifth consecutive victory over the Nittany Lions and fourth in a row at Beaver Stadium. Kyle Schlicher kicked two 27-yard field goals and the Hawkeye defense forced five turnovers. Tyler Luebke stripped the ball from Penn State’s Michael Robinson and Chad Greenway recovered with 2:30 left in the game.

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Iowa opened a 23-0 lead, then rallied in overtime to defeat No. 12 Penn State 42-35 for its second of nine consecutive victories. The Hawkeyes won against a ranked team on the road for the first time since a 21-20 victory over No. 6 Penn State in 1996. It was also Iowa’s first victory over a ranked team since it knocked off No. 12 Northwestern in 2000. Quarterback Brad Banks threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Ed Hinkel to give the Hawkeyes a 23-0 lead with 6:04 left in the second quarter. The Hawkeyes led 26-7 at halftime. Kicker Nate Kaeding converted a 55-yard field goal. Iowa took a 35-13 lead into the fourth quarter. In overtime, Banks connected with wide receiver C.J. Jones for a 6-yard touchdown on third-and-goal. Penn State failed to convert on a fourth-down screen pass because of quarterback pressure from Jonathan Babineaux.

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