Oct. 18, 2008
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The Hawkeyes are back. So is the Heartland Trophy.
The University of Iowa used a record-breaking performance to defeat Wisconsin 38-16 this afternoon in front of a 35th consecutive football Kinnick Stadium sellout. After a two year hiatus, the Heartland Trophy returns to the Hayden Fry Football Complex.
Wisconsin, meanwhile, turned the clock back more than a decade to 1996. That was the last time the Badgers opened the Big Ten Conference season with four losses. Iowa is now 5-3 overall, 2-2 in the Big Ten; Wisconsin is 3-4, 0-4.
“We’ve been working hard all season long,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “That’s about as well as we’ve executed for a long, long time. I’m happy about that. I saw a lot of positives.”
It’s rare when a team has a 217-yard rusher with four touchdowns and he shares the spotlight with a linebacker. That was the case today when Shonn Greene rushed for career-highs in yards and scores. But Hawkeye linebacker Pat Angerer registered 16 tackles and intercepted two passes. In typical Iowa fashion, there will be no individuals monopolizing credit from this team victory.
“I’m pretty happy we got the win,” Angerer said. “I really didn’t know what to do. They threw the passes right at me. I’m so thankful to play behind our defensive line.”
Iowa gained 375 total yards — 254 via the ground . Wisconsin, which benefitted from some stat-padding late in the game, actually had advantages in total yards (409 to 375), passing yards (251 to 121) and time of possession (32:56 to 27:04). The Badgers converted 6 of 18 third down conversions, while Iowa advanced the chains just once on 10 third-down opportunities.
Iowa’s opening drive featured four plays of 10 yards or more and ended with Greene bouncing off the right side of the line nearly untouched for a 12-yard touchdown run. The Hawkeyes drove 70 yards in seven plays with Greene carrying five times for 40 yards. Quarterback Ricky Stanzi was perfect on both pass attempts for 30 yards — a 13-yard completion to Derrell Johnson-Koulianos on Iowa’s first offensive play and a 17-yarder to tight end Allen Reisner that took the ball to the Wisconsin 23. The successful PAT by Trent Mossbrucker gave the Hawkeyes a 7-0 lead. For the game Stanzi completed 11 of 18 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown.
The Badgers moved the ball well on their first two drives of the first quarter, but stalled both times near midfield — the first was a 8-play drive that ended at the Badger 47, the second was a 7-play drive that ended in Hawkeye territory at the 46.
“I knew it was going to be a big play. It’s one of those plays the defense doesn’t expect. I went downhill and took it from there. There was nobody there for me to hit, so I figured I’d go ahead and keep running.”
UI running back
Greene surpassed 1,000 rushing yards for the season with 8:06 left in the second quarter and it could have been his most impressive run of the year. A pass interference call against Trey Stross put the ball at the Wisconsin 42. Greene carried the ball eight yards to the 34 and then he really put on a show. On second-and-2, Greene sprinted to his right and broke the grasps of would-be Badger tacklers Chris Maragos, Aubrey Pleasant, Allen Langford and Mario Goins to score his second touchdown of the day and give Iowa a 14-0 lead.
Wisconsin narrowed the margin to 14-3 with a 49-yard field goal by Philip Welch with 59 seconds left before halftime. The Badgers went 37 yards on nine plays with the biggest chunk of yards coming on a 20-yard pass completion from Dustin Sherer to Travis Beckum.
Iowa’s offensive balance showed during the first 30 minutes. Greene rushed 13 times for 97 yards and Jewel Hampton added three attempts for 14 yards. Stanzi was 8 of 10 passing for 81 yards and a long of 25 to tight end Brandon Myers. Johnson-Koulianos and Stross both had two receptions. Angerer was the busiest Hawkeye on defense with 12 tackles (two solo, 10 assists).
A second field goal by Welch — this time from 40 yards — made the score 14-6 with 10:01 left in the third quarter after both teams had one second-half possession. The Badger defense held on third-and-1 on Iowa’s opening drive, pushing Greene back a yard and forcing a three-and-out for the Hawkeyes. Wisconsin used a 4-play drive that started with a 21-yard run by John Clay.
Four straight three-and-outs by Iowa and a Wisconsin offense that appeared to be more comfortable with first-time starter Sherer made for a tense opening to the second half for Hawkeye fans. The Badgers settled for their third field goal in three drives in a row, this time from 35 yards with 6:15 left in the third quarter.
Things didn’t stay shaky long for the Hawkeyes with Greene in the backfield. A roughing-the-passer penalty by Maurice Moore of Wisconsin moved Iowa out of the shadow of its own end zone and placed the ball on the Iowa 48. In retrospect, that penalty could have been one of the most pivotal plays of the game. Two plays later, Greene sprinted 52 yards for his third touchdown and the Hawkeyes were up by 12 points at 21-9 with 5:06 left in the quarter.
“I knew it was going to be a big play,” Greene said. “It’s one of those plays the defense doesn’t expect. I went downhill and took it from there. There was nobody there for me to hit, so I figured I’d go ahead and keep running.”
“We knew at halftime that nothing would come easy in this football game,” Ferentz said. “Shonn’s been giving us a spark all season.”
Two spectacular plays — one on special teams by Paki O’Meara and one on offense by Reisner — gave Iowa a 28-9 lead with 1:38 left in the third period. With Wisconsin in punt position, O’Meara broke from the right side and got his hand on the ball and his body on the punter, with the ball wobbling 12 yards to the Badger 33. Four plays later Reisner made an acrobatic, athletic, one-handed reception, used a bone-crushing block by fellow tight end Myers and ran 16 yards for a touchdown.
Iowa began turning up the heat defensively, charging hard at a pass-happy, but suddenly prone, Sherer. Christian Ballard recorded his first unassisted sack of the season on second down and Matt Kroul hurried and then decked Sherer on third down.
As if an exclamation point was needed, Greene provided one with 9:18 remaining. Greene turned his 25th rush into a 34-yard scoring run, giving him 217 yards for the game and a school-record tying fourth rushing touchdown in a game.
With 4:24 remaining Wisconsin’s Zach Brown quieted a partial crowd by scoring on a run from 21 yards, making the final 38-16.
Iowa has a bye next Saturday and will be back in action on Nov. 1 at Illinois. Last season the Hawkeyes defeated Illinois, 10-6, in Iowa City.