"They werenít going away and our guys answered the same way. They werenít going away, either. Itís one of those games, the last guy standing."
BY THE NUMBERS
100 Ė wins by Kirk Ferentz as Iowaís coach
17 Ė Punts combined by both teams
4 Ė Consecutive 100-yard rushing games by Iowa RB Mark Weisman
3 Ė Red-zone trips with scores
7†Ė Three-and-outs by Iowa
A Ė Cockroaches applauding Hawkeyes' survival skills.
Ė Marc Morehouse
B†Ė† Spartans would have been better off with Kirk Cousins, or even Cousinsí cousin.
Ė Mike Hlas
A Ė A good counter-puncher steals the round and the decision.
Ė Scott Dochterman
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz notched his 100th win as Iowa's head coach Saturday in the Hawkeyes' 19-16 double-overtime win at Michigan State. Ferentz, 57, is the second coach in school history to reach that milestone. His mentor, Hayden Fry (143), is the other.
Ferentz, who is 100-68 in his 14 seasons at Iowa, downplayed the mark. His players, however, did not.
"Itís something that Iíll never forget, the feeling of being in that locker room with all these guys who you work so hard with and Coach Ferentz," Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg said. "He lives and dies with this. To see his emotion, how much he cares and to be able to do it with† (Ferentz's sons) James and Brian and all these seniors, itís something Iíll never forget."
"It was crazy in the locker room," Iowa linebacker James Morris said. "Guys were going nuts. Itís an awesome feeling. Itís something that you canít buy, thatís why people play football, for feelings like that in the locker room."
One hundred wins at any school is a major accomplishment, but Ferentz is most proud of how his team put it together. As a road underdog at the defending division champion, the Hawkeyes outslugged the Spartans. Unheralded and unsung players stepped up for Iowa in crucial moments, just the way Ferentz wants it.
"As far as whether itís 100th or 10th, this is a game Iíll remember it for a while because of the way the guys battled and stuck with it," Ferentz said.
Iowa trailed 13-6 and faced second-and-26 at its 16 with less than 5 minutes left. Vandenberg dropped back and saw senior wide receiver Keenan Davis in single coverage against Darqueze Dennard running up the right sideline.
"Second and 26, we dug ourselves a big hole and got them to play base defense, which we knew we had a shot opportunity," Vandenberg said. "They had that look a lot, and we hadnít really taken a shot yet. Theyíve got good players on the outside. Youíve got to pick and choose when youíre going to do it. I thought it was a good time to give our guy a chance."
Vandenberg tossed it perfectly. Davis ran under the ball and hauled it in at the Michigan State 49 for 35 yards.
"I was just trying to make a play," Davis said. "I knew we had to; it was huge. It was something that had to be done. So why not do it?
"Itís a play that Iím comfortable saying that all of us receivers can make."
The play gave Iowa one last offensive chance. Ferentz said it was the game's most important play.
"If I could only pick one play, Iíd probably pick that one," Ferentz said. "That was a huge play. That was the play of the game."
THE RUN I
Iowa faced a second crucial situation two plays later. Looking at third-and-6 at the Spartans' 45, Iowa caught MSU in a nickel defense and the defensive line and secondary didn't adjust properly.
Iowa fooled Michigan State with an outside run zone with running back Mark Weisman, who rumbled 35 yards to the Spartans' 8.
"If they call your number, youíve got to get it done," Weisman said.
"Third and six, third and whatever, heck of a run by Mark Weisman," Ferentz said.
THE RUN II
With a minute left, Iowa lined up in a base formation on third-and-goal from the 5. Iowa again chose to run, and Weisman blasted up the middle for the game-tying touchdown.
Weisman suffered a right ankle injury on the play and did not play another snap. He stood in a walking boot after the game. He was replaced by freshman Greg Garmon and not Damon Bullock, who had another setback in his recovery from a concussion.
"The ankleís fine, Iíll be all right," Weisman said. "I donít know if I could play on it (right) now."
Iowa kicker Mike Meyer drilled a pair of field goals in overtime. The second was a 42-yarder from the left hash in a swirling wind that put Iowa up 19-16.
Meyer nailed all four field-goal attempts against Michigan State and finished and has hit 14-of-15 tries this season.
"We donít take it for granted," Ferentz said. "Boy his execution was flawless. Youíve got to give credit to (snapper Casey) Kreiter getting the ball back there. Caseyís done a great job and (holder John) Wienke getting it down. Those three guys working together."
On the first play of Michigan State's second overtime possession, quarterback Andrew Maxwell threw toward receiver Keith Mumphrey. Iowa defensive tackle Louis Trinca-Pasat tipped the ball, which then bounced off Mumphrey's hands and caromed to cornerback Greg Castillo, who caught it for the game-clinching interception.
"To win on a turnover at the end Ö outstanding," Ferentz said.
IRON SHARPENS IRON
Michigan State and Iowa pride themselves on toughness and physical play. It was crucial for the Hawkeyes to match the Spartans' hard-hitting nature, Morris said.
"Guys like me guys like Chris (Kirksey), Hitch (Anthony Hitchens), we live for these games because itís hard a game, itís a tough game and they chose to make it that way," Morris said. "Thatís the way we want it. When we play teams, we want to turn it into that kind of a game. They did. So itís kind of our mettle against theirís, but luckily we had a little more than them in the end."
Three weeks after a stink bomb loss to Central Michigan, the Hawkeyes are trying to prove they're relevant and competitive. But that's only to themselves. They could care less what anybody else thinks.
"A lot of people put us at 2-9 or whatever after we lose to CMU," Vandenberg said. "Itís one of those things weíre going to keep sawing wood. Weíve got six tough games left."
"I feel like we answered some questions, but weíre not really worried about the questions or answering any questions," Davis said. "Weíre worried about us and us getting better."
Iowa's straight-ahead approach provides some semi-boring copy and sound bites† for scribes and broadcasters, but the process works, Ferentz said.
"What weíve tried to do is focus on whatís right in front of us and getting better," Ferentz asid. "Thatís what this game is all about and thatís what it teaches you. Youíve got to have some mental toughness to do that because not every day is going to go the way you want, every play is not going to go the way you want. Today was a great illustration of that."
Iowa (4-2, 2-0 Big Ten) enjoys a non-divisional night home game against Penn State (4-2, 2-0) next Saturday. The game is the first match-up between first-year Nittany Lions Coach Bill O'Brien and Ferentz. O'Brien and Iowa offensive line coach Brian Ferentz coached together with the New England Patriots last year.
"It gives us confidence. We go on the road and we know what it takes to finish games and finish games in a hostile environment."
-- Morris on the win