Posted on: October 27, 2010 1:13 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:10 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
On Saturday the Iowa Hawkeyes lost at home to the Wisconsin Badgers, meaning that if Iowa is going to win the Big Ten and get to the Rose Bowl this season, it's going to need help. What made the loss sting a bit more, however, were a couple of crucial mistakes the Hawkeyes made in the fourth quarter. The biggest one being deciding to call a timeout with 12 seconds left in the game rather than spiking the ball to stop the clock and give the Hawkeyes the chance to run another play before setting up for a possible game-winning field goal.
Instead Ricky Stanzi was hurried into throwing a shovel pass to Adam Robinson, who was tackled in bounds, and without that timeout available, the clock expired. Just in case you were inclined to blame either Stanzi or Robinson for the mishap, Kirk Ferentz wanted to make it clear on Tuesday that it was his fault, not his players.
"In retrospect, I wish we would've clocked it quite frankly," Ferentz said during his weekly press conference . "I wish I had done it over, could do over. I can't. So, live with it. Cost us one play."
Kind of cost you more than a play, coach. It also cost you a victory.
Of course, that wasn't the only play Ferentz wished he could have back. During the fourth quarter Wisconsin showed some onions when they ran a fake punt on fourth down at its own 26-yard line. Punter Brad Nortman took off for 17 yards and a first down, extending a drive that would lead to the game-winning touchdown. Ferentz also said that could he do it over again, he would have called for punt safe instead of dropping everybody back to block for the return.
I do get the feeling that should Iowa beat Michigan State this Saturday, those regrets will be forgotten.
Posted on: October 23, 2010 9:15 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:13 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
This was more than a football game; this was a 12-round heavyweight slugfight, one befitting a spot in the Rocky series. Wisconsin won this fight, 31-30, and the one-point margin only underscores how closely matched Iowa and the Badgers were. But in the end, this was about Wisconsin going that extra inch to get its win -- and the Heartland Trophy.
Just ask J.J. Watt , the Badgers' standout DE, and defensive hero for the second straight week. In the first quarter, Watt swung the momentum of the game by blocking an Iowa extra point and keeping the game at 6-3. After 52 more points scored in the rest of the game, that one single point would prove to be the margin of victory.
"I've always told my defense that to me, the truest test of what a defense is all about is how they play PAT, because any time you're on the field and it's a PAT situation, it means that you were just scored upon, and how are you going to react?" Bret Bielema said. "The reaction was unbelievable and ends up being the difference in the game."
That blocked PAT wouldn't have been of much significance if Montee Ball hadn't stretched across the goal line by three inches with about a minute left, and Ball probably wouldn't have been able to score that touchdown without a crucial fake punt call on fourth and 4 from Wisconsin's own 26. With everyone on Iowa's punt return team playing for the return, Badgers punter Brad Nortman streaked up the middle of the field for 17 yards. Afterwards, Nortman and Bielema confirmed that it was the coaches' call to fake it from the start.
"It was all the coaches, all the coaches," Nortman said. "When I got the snap, I saw the wide-open field, a couple blockers in front of me, and I just ran. Once I got down the field, I knew it was a great call."
Watt also came through in the fourth quarter. With Iowa holding a first down near midfield with 35 seconds left, Watt finally broke through for the Badgers' first sack of the game, dropping quarterback Ricky Stanzi for a loss of 11 yards, running nine seconds off, and forcing the Hawkeyes to burn a timeout. And sure enough, Iowa's drive ended on the Badgers' 35-yard line, running out of time just outside of field-goal range because the Hawkeyes had burned their last timeout.
After the game, Watt wore his battle scars proudly, the bridge of his nose still freshly bleeding, as he reflected happily on what he considers the high point of Wisconsin's season so far.
"I really think it tops last week," Watt told reporters. "We had so many guys banged up, we're here in a tough environment against a tough team; to come here and do what we did is so unbelievable and a testament to our team."
Watt admitted that with a bye week coming up next, he's going to savor this Badger win that puts them in a dominant second-place position behind the still-unbeaten Michigan State Spartans.
"I'm going to take this one in, and I'm going to take [last week's win against] Ohio State in, because we didn't really have much time to take Ohio State in," Watt said. "I'm going to take a day or two here, watch the game films, and just let it sink in, but then after that we're going to come right back and start focusing on the last four games of the season."
Of course, with such a close final margin, the losing team usually has plenty to rue afterwards, and for the Hawkeyes, today will be no exception. Aside from the blocked extra point and fake punt given up, Iowa placeholder Ryan Donahue fumbled the snap on a 30-yard field goal in the second quarter, costing his team a shot at three points.
Further, and perhaps worse, the Iowa endgame clock management will be under close scrutiny from fans and coaches alike. With the Hawkeyes facing a fourth and 1 at Wisconsin's 42-yard line, Stanzi ran a keeper for the first down, then let three seconds run off the clock while signaling a spike before calling Iowa's last timeout with 13 seconds remaining -- a call that, minus the few wasted seconds, Ferentz later said was their plan all along. Alas, the next play was a pass to tailback Adam Robinson in the flat, and when Robinson was tackled inbounds without Iowa being able to stop the clock, well, that was that.
Perhaps it would have been preferable for Iowa and its fans if the Hawkeyes had lost by 10, and if they'd never been so close to attempting a game-winning field goal. But such is the emotional cruelty of college football. If it's any consolation to the Hawkeyes -- and probably scant, at that -- it's that Iowa isn't the first team to lose by the skin of its teeth to the Badgers. Recall that back in September, Wisconsin dispatched Arizona State 20-19 by blocking a tying PAT, and also stopped a potential kick return for a touchdown at the Wisconsin 1-yard line to end the first half in that game.
Again, yes, it's scant consolation for Iowa, but anything would be after such a devastating loss -- one where the Hawkeyes seemed just inches away from victory.
Posted on: October 15, 2010 8:15 pm
Posted by the College Football Blog Staff
Every season, every month, every week, there are several outcomes and achievements that, frankly, nobody operating within reason would ever predict. Who could have predicted Nebraska would beat Florida for the 1995 title by 38 points, or that Boise State would pull off three late trick plays to knock off Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, or that Les Miles would look like the endgame genius against Urban Meyer and Florida? Nobody... until now. We're going to try capture that lightning in a bottle by making similarly absurd predictions every week. Are they at all likely to come true? No. Do we even believe the words we're writing? No. But if we make even one correct call on these, we will never stop gloating. Ever.
Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore sprains his knee when he trips while running onto the field during pregame ceremonies, and all of a sudden, the Broncos must face San Jose State with a brand new quarterback. Boise coach Chris Peterson blames San Jose State and their groundskeeping for the mishap, and feeling untold amounts of shame, SJSU coach Mike MacIntyre forfeits the game. Moore recovers fully for the Broncos' next game, and Boise's march to a 12-0 regular season continues unabated. -- Adam Jacobi
As the closing seconds count down on the scoreboard at Ross-Ade Stadium, Tim Brewster looks up at it to see the final score: Purdue 37, Minnesota 13. Knowing that these are probably the last few seconds that he'll spend on a sideline COMPETING and FIGHTING with the Gophers, his emotions get the best of him. Danny Hope begins to make his way to midfield to meet the coach, but instead Brewster bursts into tears and sprints off the field. He then hides in a supply room deep within the bowels of the stadium, refusing to come out until eventually Minnesota AD Joel Maturi lures him out by promising he's not going to fire him. Brewster then opens the door and comes out, his face red and blotchy, covered in tears. "Really?" he asks Maturi. "No, you're totally fired," says Maturi before kicking him in the groin. -- Tom Fornelli
Arizona's slide continues after falling to Oregon State despite getting some help from the replay officials. This time, facing Washington State, the home officials give the Wildcats a taste of their own medicine and refuse to replay a game-winning touchdown that was actually an incomplete pass. Mike Stoops has no timeouts, and the Cougars quickly kick the extra point to pick up that elusive first conference win. It is later revealed that the replay official was Washington State alumnus Drew Bledsoe, who emerges from the booth in full Wazzu regalia and facepaint. The Pac-10 finds no fault in this. -- Chip Patterson
With Texas trailing Nebraska 24-7 just before halftime, Mack Brown makes his way over to Colt McCoy who is watching the game from the sidelines. "Listen, I need you to come to the locker room at halftime. Give these boys a pep talk." McCoy agrees, but Brown was lying. Instead Brown locks Garrett Gilbert in a shed -- hey, it's popular in Texas -- and convinces McCoy to put on Gilbert's uniform. McCoy then goes out and leads Texas to a comeback victory, finding James Kirkendoll for the game-winning touchdown with, you guessed it, one second left on the clock. -- Tom Fornelli
Michigan's defense pitches a shut out against Iowa. The Big House rocks as Denard Robinson totals 600 total yards of offense and the Wolverines bounce back from the loss to "Little Brother" with a performance for the ages as the Wolverines reclaim a spot in the Top 25 with a 48-0 win over the Hawkeyes. Adrian Clayborn, struck with grief, eats 400 cheeseburgers on the ride home and gives up on the NFL for a career in the lawn and garden industry. Turns out Clayborn is quite the green thumb. -- Chip Patterson
The Kansas football team shows up to an empty Memorial Stadium in Lawrence. Head coach Turner Gill and his Jayhawks were under the impression that their game would be played on Saturday, and thanks to various elaborate pranks by Kansas State fans, they had no idea that they had been scheduled to play on Thursday night. KSU coaches, upon finding out that Kansas had not appeared for the game, dressed their scout team in KU colors and had them put up token opposition. Somehow, they also had a scout team Turner Gill. The garbage-time touchdown Kansas State allowed to its double agents was a sublime touch. -- Adam Jacobi
McNeese State trots into Death Valley on Saturday night and shines under the lights. LSU quarterbacks Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson combine for an NCAA-record 11 interceptions, five of which are returned for touchdowns. The other six picks are hideous arm-punts that prevent the Tigers from finding the end zone once. Patrick Peterson returns 4 kick offs for touchdowns, but LSU falls 35-28. -- Chip Patterson
Emboldened by reports that he was coaching with his job on the line, Tim Brewster leads his team to an emotional 35-34 victory over a frisky Purdue squad... then rips off five more wins to finish the season, culminating in a 55-0 revenge win over Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa Hawkeyes at TCF Bank Stadium. Minnesota's 7-5 (6-2) record and a host of other conference losses among the rest of the Big Ten vault the Gophers into the Rose Bowl, making them the first five-loss team to earn a trip to Pasadena. A month before the game, Brewster announces that he's leaving the Gophers to coach his beloved Texas Longhorns; Mack Brown has retired, as expected, but the program was stunned when defensive coordinator (and presumptive next head coach) Will Muschamp pulled a simultaneous "sympathy retirement." The Gophers hire Mike Leach on the spot, and the new Pirate Gophers stun Oregon on January 1st, 45-31. -- Adam Jacobi
There's nothing out of the ordinary taking place in Tuscaloosa on Saturday night. It's early in the fourth quarter and the Alabama Crimson Tide have a healthy 24-6 lead over the Rebels, but then suddenly a bright, white light can be seen in the sky. Those who notice it assume that it's a comet or meteor passing by the planet, but it keeps getting bigger and bigger before everyone suddenly realizes it's coming right for them. As it gets closer, it becomes clear that it is some kind of UFO, in fact, the space ship actually looks like a piece of fried calamari. It lands at the 50-yard line, and out comes Admiral Ackbar. Knowing immediately what's taking place, the new Ole Miss mascot makes a break for it before he is apprehended by members of the Rebel Alliance. The Rebel Alliance then holds a trial on the field, determining whether or not the Bear shall live. This does not please Nick Saban. After a few minutes Saban walks briskly up to Admiral Ackbar, takes his gun, and executes the Bear himself before saying, "There. NOW GET THE HELL OFF OF MY FIELD." Ackbar and his soldiers sheepishly retreat to their ship and take off. Not even the Rebel Alliance wants to mess with Nick Saban. -- Tom Fornelli
Tags: Admiral Ackbar, Adrian Clayborn, Alabama, Alien Invasions, Arizona, Boise State, Chris Peterson, Colt McCoy, Danny Hope, Denard Robinson, Drew Bledsoe, Garrett Gilbert, Insane Predictions, Iowa, Iowa, James Kirkendoll, Jarrett Lee, Joel Maturi, Jordan Jefferson, Kansas, Kansas State, Kellen Moore, Kirk Ferentz, Les Miles, LSU, Mack Brown, McNeese State, Michigan, Mike Leach, Mike MacIntyre, Mike Stoops, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nick Saban, Ole Miss, Ole Miss Mascot, Oregon, Oregon State, Patrick Peterson, Purdue, San Jose State, Texas, Tim Brewster, Turner Gill, Urban Meyer, Washington State, Will Muschamp
Posted on: October 3, 2010 1:14 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Iowa 6, Penn State 3. That's the score if Iowa's offense or special teams didn't contribute a single point today, and the defense was left to score for itself. Score it did, as an interception returned for a touchdown by cornerback Shaun Prater late in the fourth quarter perfectly punctuated a 24-3 victory for the Hawkeyes.
When asked if it was the defense's best performance of the season, senior safety Brett Greenwood seemed to think so. "Emotionally, we feel like it was. I know we gave up a few throws there that we need to correct, but right now, it might be."
The defense was led by Adrian Clayborn , who broke out of a slump -- or at least what would qualify as one for the All-American defensive end, anyway -- with 10 tackles, including three tackles for loss and a sack. Clayborn was at his most dominant in the fourth quarter, registering 2.5 TFLs and the sack on a forced intentional grounding by quarterback Rob Bolden .
"I had to get back to the basics. That's how [defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski ] told us to be, just play [ticked] off," Clayborn said. "You have to get after it; you can't be a nice guy on the field, and I think that's how we played as a defensive line."That line made Bolden's evening the worst, though, on a 4th and goal from Iowa's 1-yard line. Bolden lined up in the shotgun and scrambled for the goal line, a run that was stretched out by end Broderick Binns and then snuffed out by tackle Christian Ballard inches from the goal line.
"I saw a little bit of green left, and I knew I had to make a play," Ballard said of his touchdown-saving tackle.
Senior quarterback Ricky Stanzi was a rock for his offense, completing 16 of 22 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown. Stanzi also scored on a sneak from a yard out to give Iowa a 17-point lead late in the first half. Stanzi attributed his efficient game to the game plan put in by offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe .
"They're short passes, they're dump-downs, the checks are built in, and we're able to get the ball downfield if we want to," said Stanzi.
For the Hawkeyes, the win's nice, but so is what comes next: a bye week. Head coach Kirk Ferentz said he ran running back Adam Robinson 28 times and said "he could have gone 50" because of the bye week, and Robinson, who gained 95 yards on the ground Saturday, said he's never been sorer after a game.
The bye week will also help the Hawkeyes get their linebacker corps healthy; middle linebacker Jeff Tarpinian ceded his starting role to Troy Johnson , and both players left the game with minor injuries. From there, the Hawkeyes depended on true freshman James Morris , and Morris was tied for third on the team with seven tackles on the day.
"He was ready to go when called upon," Ferentz said of Morris. "First thing you hope he doesn't do is blow something, leave something just wide open, give them an easy big gain. It didn't seem like he did that, and that's a real credit to him."
What's more, the bye week gives Iowa an extra week for arguably their defense's biggest task of the season: find a way to shut down Michigan and Denard Robinson .
Posted on: September 2, 2010 8:16 pm
Edited on: September 2, 2010 11:30 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
The Iowa Hawkeyes have just announced that Kirk Ferentz will be receiving a mammoth contract extension. The deal will push Ferentz's salary to over $4 million a year after incentives, which would make him the highest-paid coach in the Big Ten (at least, until Jim Tressel gets an extension).
The deal is good through 2020, which is not only a nice vote of confidence in Ferentz, but in effect a lifetime deal. Ferentz will turn 65 before the 2020 season, and it would be his 21st season at the helm of the Hawkeyes. If Ferentz stays that long, not only would he be the closest thing to a "lifer" in the Big Ten since Joe Paterno, but he'd also likely be extended through his 70th birthday for recruiting's sake. Big "if," of course, but Iowa's administration is making that invitation public now.
Now, some might look at the deal and wonder why Iowa's rewarding a coach whose seat was starting to get warm just three years ago and who's never made it to a Rose Bowl. But the reality of the situation is that Iowa's not an Ohio State or Michigan, and they don't have the institutional and traditional advantages a powerhouse would have. They're closing that gap year by year, mind you, but nobody would argue that Iowa's program is at the highest level yet. They've never played for a national championship, and they're usually not national championship contenders.
But what they can do is invest in a coach like a championship contender, and it's worked for the Iowa program so far. At the first sign of Ferentz's success in 2002, it was generally assumed that he would bolt either to an elite college program or the NFL, because Iowa wasn't considered a "destination school." Now, today, it certainly appears that Iowa is among those destination schools.