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Home / Iowa, ISU Triumph! Iowa stuns No. 5 Wolves
ANN ARBOR, MICH. -
Before the current college football season began, many Iowa fans no doubt hoped their team would have a winning season.
But, those fans really underestimated "Hayden's Heroes."
Make no mistake about it, the Iowa Hawkeyes have arrive... not just as a team with a winning record, but as a full-blown powerhouse in the world of Big Ten football.
Any last doubters were almost certainly swayed Saturday as Coach Hayden Fry's Hawks recorded perhaps their biggest victory in the last 20 years, stifling traditional heavyweight Michigan, 9-7, before a sardined-in crowd of 105,951 at Michigan Stadium.
The crowd, which was the largest ever to see an Iowa football game and the third largest in Michigan history, also included representatives from six different bowl games, and they no doubt returned to their individual areas of the country very impressed.
Iowa used a conservative ball-control offense, a big-play defense and the talented foot of freshman Tom Nichol to record a victory over a team ranked among the top half-dozen in the nation for the third time this season.
The win also moved the Hawks into undisputed possession of first place in the Big Ten as Wisconsin lost to Michigan State, 33-14. Iowa is now 3-0 in league play (5-1 overall) while Wisconsin is 3-1 and Ohio State is 2-1.
"Man, that was one great football game," exclaimed an ecstatic Fry in a postgame press conference. "I thought I fouled up a jillion times by playing it too close to the vest. But we put a lot of faith in our defense.
"Nobody expected us to win this football game except those guys over there in the next room. Nobody's heard of Iowa football for 20 years."
The Hawkeyes stunned both Nebraska and UCLA in nonconference games earlier in the season when those clubs were ranked No. 6 in the nation in both wire service polls. So where were the Wolverines ranked? Well, they were fifth in both polls, but Fry didn't hesitate to point out that they were sixth in the Sports Illustrated rankings.
But this victory was much, much sweeter than the conquests of UCLA and Nebraska, according to Fry. Perhaps it was because this one came on the road. Perhaps it was because this one counted in the league standings. Or perhaps it was because the Hawks had to scramble back from a halftime deficit to win this one.
Iowa trailed by a single point before Nichol's third field goal of the game - a 30-yarder with 2:40 to go in the third quarter - gave the Hawks a 9-7 cushion.
The field goal came at the end of a 5 1/2 minute, 67-yard drive following an interception by Iowa's Mel Cole in the end zone.
Seventeen minutes and 40 seconds later, the score was still 9-7 as the Hawks chewed up much of the intervening time with a methodical, one-first-down-at-a-time approach. Under the guidance of senior quarterback Gordy Bohannon, the visitors had possession of the ball for almost 14 minutes more than Michigan over the course of the game.
"That was our game plan - to hold the ball," added Fry. "We stuck to our guns. I'm kind of proud of ol' John Hayden. I really wanted to go back and throw the bomb but we stuck to the game plan."
And of course the defense, which has ranked at the top of the Big Ten most of the season, did its job again. There were three crucial points in the second half when the Hawks rose up to stop the Wolverines. Cole's interception on a deflected pass with 8:19 to go in the third quarter was the first. A fourth-down stop by tackle Mark Bortz on flanker Anthony Carter early in the fourth quarter was the second. And, an Andre Tippett-influenced incomplete pass with 31 seconds left was the third, marking the end of the Wolverines' hopes.
After that, Bohannon fell on the ball twice to run out the clock.
The Hawks took a 3-0 lead in their first possession of the game with the help of a fumbled punt. Dave Strobel jumped on Evan Cooper's fumble at the Michigan 38-yard line and a 25-yard completion from Bohannon to Ivory Webb moved Iowa to the 11. The drive stalled at the four and Nichol came in to kick a 20-yard field goal.
Nichol got another field goal, from 36 yards out, later in the first quarter, capping a 57-yard march.
"My kicking was pretty shaky all week long," admitted Nichol, "with a new holder and a new center and everything. They had a really good rush on us today, too, but we did OK."
Michigan jumped in front, 7-6, on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Steve Smith to Carter with 6:30 to go in the second quarter. The 68-yard drive was helped by a personal foul penalty against Iowa.
"One of our key mistakes was giving up that touchdown to Carter," said Fry. "However, I knew they were going to call that play before they even ran it and even though we defensed against it properly, they still were able to score. That's just a tribute to Carter's ability as a receiver."
Carter caught five passes for 91 yards in the contest but the Wolverines completed just one other pass all day. Smith was the home squad's leading rusher with 60 yards while tailback Butch Woolfolk was held under 100 yards for the first time all season. He netted 56 in 14 carries.
Norm Granger led a balanced Hawkeye ground attack with 44 yards. Bohannon rushed for 34 yards and also completed 10 of 19 passes for 127 yards.
The Hawks did sustain a few injuries in the contest, however, as both halfback Eddie Phillips and offensive tackle Bruce Kittle came up with leg ailments.
"I don't know about the injuries," said Fry. "Right now they're all happy. Some of 'em won't be able to get out of bed tomorrow but they're happy now."
Fry also hinted that he feels the Hawkeyes' future can be even brighter than their immediate past.
"I don't want to hurt Michigan's feelings, but we can play better than that," he said. "I guess we've gotten to the point where we can make some mistakes and still beat the biggies."