When Iowa and Iowa State hooked up for this early-evening game, no one could have had any idea that a) Iowa would go on to an unbeaten Big Ten season and Orange Bowl bid and b) ISU would ascend to the Top Ten before plummeting to the Humanitarian Bowl.
This game was all that separated the Hawkeyes from a perfect regular-season and, quite possibly, the national-title game. Iowa State quarterback Seneca Wallace, who is still in the NFL, denied it from happening. He was magnificent.
The Hawkeyes led 24-7 at halftime and appeared ready to snap their four-game losing streak against ISU. Wallace had other ideas. ISU scored three touchdowns in the first 11 minutes of the second half.
It was a stunning turnaround, and perhaps the most-memorable game of any in the Iowa-ISU series from a football standpoint.
Excerpts from my column off of that game:
IOWA CITY – “Just like old times,” pressbox visitior Hayden Fry said at halftime Saturday night, crystalizing the thoughts of countless Iowa Hawkeyes football fans.
The Hawks held a 24-7 lead over Iowa State at the time and looked unstoppable. Fry couldn’t see what was coming in the second half. Nor could anyone else, except maybe the visiting team’s quarterback.
It turned out to be just like recent times. Just like 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001.
Old college quarterback Fry, who coached the Hawks to 15 straight wins in the ISU-Iowa series between 1983 and 1997, got to see a modern-day prototype of a player at his former position. That was Cyclone senior Seneca Wallace . He was phenomenal in the second half, forcefully taking the reins of the ISU offense and taking his team to a 36-31 triumph.
The fifth straight win for Iowa State in this series was its best and possibly most enjoyable yet, a tribute to what happens when talented players persevere.
Of course, it helps greatly to have a mega-talent like Wallace , who averaged 10 yards per pass attempt in the second half as his team rang up five offensive scores.
“I don’t even know what to say about him,” said ISU flanker Jack Whitver, who had 132 of the Cyclones’ 361 receiving yards, all delivered by Wallace in style. “I’m speechless about what he did in the second half.”
So were the Hawkeye fans that made up the vast majority of the 70,397 customers in Kinnick Stadium. …
Wallace was the best player on the field when ISU lost to Florida State, 38-31, three weeks earlier under the Arrowhead Stadium lights, and he was Musco’s equal as a beacon at Kinnick Stadium.
The precise passes, the strong throws on the run, the runs themselves, the repeated escaping of sacks, the patience in the pocket when he was able to stay in it, the refusal to yield to Iowa’s first-half onslaught – again, phenomenal.
“He can make plays when there is no play,” dejected Iowa defensive tackle Jared Clauss said.
“He has an incredible ability to get out of the blitz. He has incredible feet. He can beat you with his feet and his arm, and he did.”
If Wallace had played for Iowa, Cyclone fans might have been westbound on I-80 by the third quarter, glad to be away from the pounding their team would have been absorbing.