“They weren’t going away and our guys answered the same way. They weren’t going away, either. It’s one of those games, the last guy standing.”
– Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz
BY THE NUMBERS
100 – wins by Kirk Ferentz as Iowa’s coach
17 – Punts combined by both teams
4 – Consecutive 100-yard rushing games by Iowa RB Mark Weisman
3 – Red-zone trips with scores
7 – Three-and-outs by Iowa
A – Cockroaches applauding Hawkeyes’ survival skills.
– Marc Morehouse
B – Spartans would have been better off with Kirk Cousins, or even Cousins’ cousin.
– Mike Hlas
A – A good counter-puncher steals the round and the decision.
– 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.
“It’s something that I’ll 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, it’s something I’ll never forget.”
“It was crazy in the locker room,” Iowa linebacker James Morris said. “Guys were going nuts. It’s an awesome feeling. It’s something that you can’t buy, that’s 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 it’s 100th or 10th, this is a game I’ll 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 hadn’t really taken a shot yet. They’ve got good players on the outside. You’ve got to pick and choose when you’re 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?
“It’s a play that I’m 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, I’d 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, you’ve 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 ankle’s fine, I’ll be all right,” Weisman said. “I don’t 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 don’t take it for granted,” Ferentz said. “Boy his execution was flawless. You’ve got to give credit to (snapper Casey) Kreiter getting the ball back there. Casey’s 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 … 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 it’s hard a game, it’s a tough game and they chose to make it that way,” Morris said. “That’s the way we want it. When we play teams, we want to turn it into that kind of a game. They did. So it’s kind of our mettle against their’s, 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. “It’s one of those things we’re going to keep sawing wood. We’ve got six tough games left.”
“I feel like we answered some questions, but we’re not really worried about the questions or answering any questions,” Davis said. “We’re 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 we’ve tried to do is focus on what’s right in front of us and getting better,” Ferentz asid. “That’s what this game is all about and that’s what it teaches you. You’ve 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
Comments are closed.