Kickoff Inches Closer

Jan. 3, 2010

Iowa Football Practice Photos (Sunday, Jan. 3) | Video interview with J. Hunter

MIAMI — It’s rarely difficult for teams to get excited for a Homecoming football game. It’s even less difficult when a 10-game winning streak is at stake.

That was the situation facing the University of Iowa on Oct. 10 when Michigan came to Kinnick Stadium for a prime time, nationally televised battle.

Hawkeye linebacker Jeremiha Hunter was up for the task.

“We knew what we had at stake and that game was a big part of our success for the season,” Hunter said. “I just went out and played ball. I thought our whole defense played well that game.”

With 12 stops, Hunter shared game-high tackle honors with teammate Pat Angerer . He thwarted the first offensive drive by the Wolverines when he intercepted a Tate Forcier pass and returned it 16 yards to the Michigan 19. Hunter stopped the first Wolverine drive of the second quarter by recovering a fumble and the Michigan 46.

“Michigan came ready to play and we just came out and executed when we needed to execute and got the win,” Hunter said.

Iowa refused to lose a 20-14 halftime lead and defeated Michigan 30-28 for its 10th consecutive victory. That unblemished streak would reach 13 straight from Nov. 8, 2008 to Nov. 7, 2009.

The Hawkeyes finished the regular season ranked No. 10 in the nation at 10-2 overall. They will play No. 9 Georgia Tech — the Atlantic Coast Conference champion — on Tuesday, Jan. 5, in the FedEx Orange Bowl.

“If we execute our defense like I know we can, I think we’ll be all right,” Hunter said. “Basically we have to react to what we see on the midline or veer option. If we’re not disciplined in our techniques, it’s going to be a long game. If we execute the way we know how, I think we’ll be fine.”

This is the first Bowl Championship Series game for Hunter, a junior outside linebacker from York, Pa. He is currently third on the team with 83 tackles (30 solo, 53 assists), despite missing the 12-0 win against Minnesota with an ankle injury.

“I’m very excited to be in Miami,” Hunter said. “I’ve never been to Miami before, so this is an experience in itself. I hope we can have some fun, but business comes first, then pleasure later on. We have to be disciplined and be able to separate when it’s business time. If we can do that, then we should be fine.”

Being a native of the state of Pennsylvania, another thrill for Hunter was returning to Penn State on Sept. 26 and knocking off the Nittany Lions, 21-10. Hunter compiled 12 tackles in that homecoming.

“It felt good because I know a lot of their players and I grew up playing with most of them,” Hunter said. “It was pretty nice for us to go in there and win.”

Iowa is looking to win back-to-back bowl games for the first time since the 2004 Outback Bowl (37-17 against Florida) and the 2005 Capital One Bowl (30-25 against LSU). Last season the Hawkeyes defeated South Carolina, 31-10, in the Outback Bowl. In that game, Hunter was in on four tackles (two for a loss) with a pass breakup. Five of the first six Gamecock drives ended with a turnover.

Georgia Tech ranks second in the nation in rushing yards per game (307.2) and 11th in total offense (442.7) and scoring offense (35.3 points per game). Hunter and the Hawkeye defense is 10th in scoring defense (15.5), 11th in total defense (286.7) and 33rd in rushing defense (122.0).