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Home / 9 Lives: Hawkeyes ride crazy train to wacky win over Indiana
Ricky Stanzi is nuts. He has to be.
In the third quarter, he was the king of Interception City. He threw four interceptions and the No. 7 Hawkeyes seemed to be headed to their first loss of the season. The Iowa quarterback actually passed Interception City and looked for the exit to Goat Town.
The dream seemed resigned to die, at Kinnick, against Indiana. A painful death, to be sure.
It's a good thing Ricky Stanzi is nuts.
"Nah, man, Ricky's a great guy," wide receiver Marvin McNutt said. "I wouldn't call him schizophrenic."
You certainly could call his performance that in the Hawkeyes' crazy, nutty, schizo 42-24 victory over Indiana before 70,585 fans Saturday at Kinnick Stadium.
In the end, Stanzi had his first 300-yard, five-interception day. Freshman running back Brandon Wegher had career highs of 118 yards and three touchdowns. And the Hawkeyes (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten) had their first 9-0 record and ran their winning streak to 13 games.
It looked like the dream was dead. Indiana (4-5, 1-4) had leads of 14-0, 21-7 and 24-14, which it carried into the fourth quarter. Then the teams changed direction.
Going into a 17-mph wind in the third quarter that grabbed passes like Dorothy's house, Stanzi threw four consecutive interceptions. The north end of Kinnick was the Pit of Ultimate Darkness. Stanzi was 4 of 11 for 48 yards with the four picks in the third.
Only the fourth-quarter direction switch and stellar defense saved the Hawkeyes.
Stanzi's first pass attempt of the fourth quarter was a play-action rollout to McNutt. It went 92 yards for a TD and pulled Iowa to 24-21. Stanzi's second pass was another hard play fake to a rollout. He found wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos for a 66-yard TD pass and a 28-24 lead.
Stanzi's third pass was another hard fake, play-action rollout to tight end Tony Moeaki for 19 yards. The drive ended with Wegher's 6-yard TD run for a 35-24 lead with 7:34 left. Wegher added a 27-yard TD run at 1:12.
"It's like Rick's setting people up," Johnson-Koulianos said. "It's incredible. The way he's able to stay calm and keep his composure, I've never seen anything like it."
Yeah, not outside of Hannibal Lecter and "Silence of the Lambs."
"No, he's not crazy. I don't think he's crazy," Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. "He is mentally tough. He is definitely mentally tough. You talk about pushing it to the limit."
He's mentally something.
Stanzi always seems to find solace or comfort or strength or whatever somewhere inside. When he does something wrong, he knows what went wrong. By the time he's back on the sideline, he's done with it, as insane as that sounds. He doesn't get frustrated with himself, as crazy as that sounds.
"I know what the play was, I know what the coverage was and I know how I threw it," said Stanzi, who finished 13 of 26 for 337 yards, five interceptions and two TDs. "No one (else) knows that. I'm not frustrated with anything. I would've made those same throws, because those are the right reads."
Stanzi wouldn't take the wind for an excuse. But it's a good thing Iowa had the wind to its back in the fourth quarter when Stanzi went 3-for-3 for 177 yards and two TDs.
The most interceptions by an Iowa quarterback at Kinnick was Gary Snook's seven against North Carolina State in 1965. Iowa lost that game, by the way. Instead, Stanzi spearheaded a 28-0 run in the fourth quarter.
"There were some crazy plays in this football game," IU Coach Bill Lynch said.
There's that word again. Stanzi's performance was crazy, but the Prozac play of the day goes to Iowa safety Tyler Sash's 86-yard interception return for a TD.
Indiana was going in for the kill, with third-and-goal from Iowa's 2 and a 21-7 lead.
Next thing you know, linebacker A.J. Edds bashed quarterback Ben Chappell's arm, the ball hit off Sash's helmet, off Iowa D-tackle Christian Ballard's hand, off IU tackle James Brewer and back to Sash, who had a clear shot to pull Iowa within 21-14 with 7:45 left in the third quarter.
"It was crazy," said Sash, who leads the Big Ten with six interceptions. "The ball bounced around and all of a sudden it was in my hands and I took off running."
There's that word again. But really, that was a three-hour straitjacket.