Halloween Thunder and Lightning

Oct. 30, 2010

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Some said boldly that Saturday’s game at historic Kinnick Stadium was “Iowa’s season.”

Others suggested that it was Michigan State’s last hurdle before grabbing the rings and the trophy that goes to the Big Ten Conference champion and maybe even plane tickets to Tempe as a participant in the national championship game.

However, for Kirk Ferentz’s Iowa Hawkeyes, who live by only two rules once the ball is kicked on Game 1 – the 24-hour rule and the one-game-at-a-time rule – it was, in fact, just another game. Oh, a big game, for sure. But those happen on a pretty regular basis in the Big Ten and, after all, it was one of 12.

And, they played it.

And, they played it well, really well, defeating the nation’s No. 5 team, 37-6, before a loud and proud and “Blacked Out” 70,000-plus in Kinnick and, perhaps, for their defensive coordinator, Norm Parker, who returned to work for the first time in several weeks and was treated to a treat not a trick on Halloween eve.

Iowa opened the game with thunder before turning to lightning. The Hawkeyes took the opening kickoff and marched 80 yards on 12 plays to grab a 7-0 lead when Ricky Stanzi connected with Colin Sandeman in the slot from three yards out.

After a three-and-out by the Hawkeye defense, Iowa used 10 plays to set up a 37-yard field goal from Michael Meyer to push the score to 10-zip.

Then the first of several black and gold lightning strikes struck: Tyler Sash stepped in front of a hurried pass from MSU’s Kirk Cousins, took a step or three before lateralling to Micah Hyde, who raced 66 yards to the pylon in the northeast corner of Kinnick to give the Hawkeyes a 17-0 lead before the first quarter was in the history books.

The Hawkeyes tacked on 13 more in the second quarter thanks to Adam Robinson, who was on the receiving end of a 32-yard pass from Stanzi set up by a 42-yard interception return by Hyde, and a burrowed his way two yard runs to paydirt, a score that followed a 56-yard pass-and-catch between Stanzi and tight end Brad Herman on a 3-and-1 on Iowa’s 39.

“Credit goes to the kids and the coaching staff. We played a complete game, all three phases,” Kirk Ferentz told the ABC sideline reporter after the victory. Iowa’s defense limited the Spartan to just 258 yards. MSU entered the game averaging 448 yards of total offense and 35 points.

Iowa’s special teams were solid if not spectacular with spectacular being turned in by Shaun Prater when he downed a punt of Ryan Donohue’s inside the five early in the third quarter to make a statement to Michigan State.

“Today, Iowa looked more like the top five team than Michigan State. That’s not a knock on Michigan State, but the Hawkeyes rebounded. The pain of last week lingered longer than Kirk would have like, but the Hawkeyes took care of business today,” offered the Hawkeye Radio Network’s Gary Dolphin.

“Credit goes to the kids and the coaching staff. We played a complete game, all three phases.”
Kirk Ferentz

“We took advantage of turnovers when we got `em. When you have a team like Michigan State who came back from a 17-point deficit last week, you have to score seven when you get those turnovers,” added Ed Podolak, Dolphin’s sidekick in the radio booth.

“It was just one of those days when it was a great pleasure to be a Hawkeye. Most days are but this one, because of the outcome and the opponent, had a little more oomph to it.”

The nation was expecting a duel between two of the nation’s top quarterbacks on the fifth annual Blackout Saturday at Kinnick. However, it never materialized thanks in great measure to an Iowa defense that was determined to set the record straight. The Hawkeyes pressured the Cousins into three interceptions.

Stanzi, the nation’s No. 2 passer in terms of efficiency, was his consistent self. He was also was brilliantly elusive and pin point accurate while completing 11 of 15 passes for 190 yards and three touchdowns.

The senior’s favorite target on this day were his tight ends, Alan Reisner and Herman. Reisner had four catches for 36 yards and Herman three for 80.

And, of course, speaking of steady, Robinson led the Hawkeye ground game with 69 yards on 20 carries. Marcus Coker added another 40 on 16 tries.

The victory was Iowa’s sixth of the season and means that the Hawkeyes are bowl eligible for the 10th straight season under Ferentz. Iowa now begins its march up the bowl game pecking order with its sights set on its second straight Bowl Championship Series game and sixth January bowl game since 2003.

That march begins next Saturday in Bloomington, Ind., when Iowa meets Indiana in the first of two road games. The Hawkeyes travel to Northwestern the following week before returning to Kinnick for a Nov. 20 date on Senior Day against nationally ranked Ohio State.

“You know, you’ve got a 12-game schedule. You’ve got to play them all. It’s sometimes easier said than done. It will be a challenge this week, too, big win and now we have to get back on the ground here Monday,” Ferentz said when asked about the importance of staying the course and playing one game at a time.

“So you know, there’s always a tussle that way, but I think if I was going to cite one thing, our veteran leadership again. We have got a great group of seniors. A lot of guys in that junior class, too, that do a good job. So that was really helpful,” he continued.

“And you’ve got two ways to respond, when you lose a game. Certainly we are all disappointed, you get in the fetal position; you come out and start playing again. That’s what our guys did and so I’m really proud of them. “

Iowa vs. Michigan State 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Iowa Hawkeyes 17 13 7 0 37
Michigan State Spartans 0 0 0 6 6
Iowa Statistical Leaders
Passing: Ricky Stanzi 11 of 15, 190 yards, 3 touchdowns
Rushing: Adam Robinson 20 carries, 69 yards, 1 touchdowns
Receiving: Allen Reisner, 4 receptions, 36 yards
Tackles: Shaun Prater, 10 total tackles, 1 interception