Five years isn’t really that long a time, is it? But though I was there and covered the game, and haven’t had any memory-loss greater than normal, I remember very little about Iowa’s 16-3 win over Northern Illinois in Chicago’s Soldier Field five years ago.
I think that’s because the game was, well, ugly. It was a dull contest played by two teams that didn’t end up going anywhere. The Hawkeyes went 6-6, closing their season by losing to Western Michigan. NIU went 2-10.
Iowa took a 13-3 halftime lead, and that was that. But here are 16 factoids about the game to help refresh your and my memories.
1. Iowa had a pair of 100-yard rushers in the game, Albert Young (23 carries, 144 yards) and Damian Sims (16 carries, 110 yards). What are the odds Iowa has two 100-yard rushers next Saturday?
2. Northern Illinois rushed 21 times for a total of 21 yards.
3. The Hawkeyes had 10 penalties for 173 yards. That could require some research, because it’s hard to imagine Iowa ever having more than 173 penalty yards in a game, and how do you get penalized that many times and still average 17.3 yards per infraction?
4. Cornerback Charles Godfrey had two of Iowa’s three interceptions. Godfrey is now a Carolina Panther. One of his picks came after NIU had driven to the Iowa 8. The other interception was by linebacker Mike Humpal.
5. Iowa quarterback Jake Christensen didn’t get picked off in 27 pass attempts. He completed 12, for 133 yards. Included was a short TD toss to current Oakland Raider tight end Brandon Myers.
6. This was Christensen’s second career start. The first was against Northern Illinois in 2006, in place of an injured Drew Tate (thumb). Christensen passed for 256 yards and two TDs that day.
7. Iowa’s leading receiver was freshman James Cleveland, who had three catches for 61 yards. He left the program after the season, finishing his college career at Houston, where he caught 161 passes for 2,014 yards in two seasons.
8. There were 17 punts in the game, eight by Iowa.
9. Ryan Donahue’s second punt, and second career punt, was shanked and went just 19 yards. But he went on to kick a 57-yarder, and placed three punts inside the NIU 20. Donahue is now a Detroit Lion.
10. Hawkeye receivers dropped eight passes. “They’re not trying to drop the ball, just like I’m not trying to put the ball too far out in front or behind them,” Christensen said. “It’s just what happens in football.”
11. Andy Brodell had three of those drops, but he also had perhaps the play of the game, a 56-yard punt return that set up Iowa’s first TD.
12. It was hot. Defensive tackle Mitch King needed an IV for cramps in his quadricep muscles, but still had a big game that included a quarterback sack for a 13-yard NIU loss.
13. The attendance was 61,500, a sellout.
14. Between that day and now, Iowa had a 13-game winning streak (final four games of 2008 and first nine of 2009) and Northern Illinois finished last season with nine consecutive victories.
15. Since that game in Chicago, Iowa has been to an Outback Bowl, an Orange Bowl, and two Insight Bowls. NIU has been to an Independence Bowl, an International Bowl, a Humanitarian Bowl, and a GoDaddy.com Bowl.
16. The same day that the Hawkeyes last met the Huskies, Michigan lost at home to Appalachian State, 34-32. “Yeah, we heard that after the game,” Iowa defensive lineman Matt Kroul said. “I can’t believe that. Can you believe it?”