Three cool things:
1. We have to talk about the 2007 season. I’m not going to dwell on this deal, but we need to set the context. It’s part of this.
It was ugly. Abe Satterfield and Cedric Everson, UI football players at the time, were charged with sexually assaulting a female student-athlete in a residence hall room. Everson’s high-profile trial in 2010 included evidence about student text messages, testimony from Kirk Ferentz. Everson, who could have spent 25 years behind bars, was convicted of simple assault and sentenced to a week in jail. Satterfield took a plea deal and avoided prison because he testified against Everson.
On Wednesday, Nov. 15, I camped outside of the Hillcrest dormitory and conducted an interview with the UI security chief. Chatted with law enforcement and generally observed as DCI investigated the scene. The questions were “can you confirm or deny” and “why the delay from incident to investigation.”
Three days later, Western Michigan beat the Hawkeyes and ended their season. A home loss to a nondescript MAC team. It was a fitting end. I mean, Iowa set the Big Ten record for punts in a season with 86.
This game was a little bright light during that time.
Jake Christensen played great. A couple of freshmen D-linemen contributed sacks. They were Adrian Clayborn and Christian Ballard.
Still, 2007 was the worst season. All around.
2. I forgot this was a comeback victory. That was a frustrating thing with the 2007 team. It looked capable one moment and everything fell apart the next.
This was probably Christensen’s best game as a Hawkeye, finishing 21 of 36 for 299 yards and a TD.
3. Poor Insight Bowl guy.
For as bleak as this season was, the Hawkeyes were headed to the Insight Bowl. If they beat Western Michigan in the season finale at Kinnick.
Remember bowl scouts? That era is gone, but in 2007, the Insight Bowl guy wore a banana-colored jacket that could be seen from space.
“We would love to have Iowa,” said Tom Fridena, of the Phoenix-based Insight Bowl. “We would love to have Iowa. ... Oh God, almighty. The only difficulty we have is we only have 80,000 seats in the stadium.”
And then before the Western Michigan game, “We would love to pass out an invitation today if Iowa wins,” Fridena said. “We would love it.”
If you think, Ol’ Tom jinxed the Hawkeyes, nope.
“We’ll get what we deserve,” senior defensive end Bryan Mattison said.
Quote: Ferentz really let them have it at halftime in this one.
So, was it an “R” rating, a “PG 13”?
“We have to really be playing bad for him to yell like that,” running back Damian Sims said. “It was bad. It was definitely HBO.”
Note: You guys remember I did say that, yes, 2006 and 2007 were lows for the Ferentz era, but the Hawkeyes still played hellish defense.
In this one, linebacker Mike Humpal and defensive backs Charles Godfrey and Bradley Fletcher had interceptions. They all were NFL draft picks.
Why No. 118? — The 2007 season went off the cliff. This was a rest stop.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF THE GAME
Game story from 2007
EVANSTON, Ill. — Fire up Kirk Ferentz.
It’s a tried-and-true formula for the Hawkeyes. Play like total garbage, like you’d rather be sailing or knitting or napping. Raise your coach’s blood pressure to something in the 200s over something in the 100s. Fall behind on the scoreboard. And then sit back and watch the halftime fireworks.
Fire up Kirk Ferentz.
“Mad,” Iowa quarterback Jake Christensen said. “Pretty angry, upset with us. It was deserved.”
Ferentz used the word “pacifists” in the postgame. There was probably a “p” word, maybe a few “f” words and more than likely lots and lots of volume.
The Hawkeyes fell behind by two touchdowns before they mounted a stunning about-face in the second half. Christensen played his finest half as Iowa’s starting quarterback and Iowa’s defense intercepted NU quarterback C.J. Bacher three times, fueling Iowa’s 28-17 victory over Northwestern before 30,173 mostly Iowa fans Saturday at Ryan Field.
The Hawkeyes (5-5, 3-4 Big Ten) snapped their two-game losing streak to the Wildcats (5-5, 2-4) and won their first Big Ten road game in their last seven tries.
Fire up Kirk Ferentz.
“He was talking so much stuff that it was funny,” running back Damian Sims said. “He’s such a cool dude and is calm and collected. (But) he wouldn’t stop. We would walk away and he would think about something else and come back and start yelling more.”
When the Hawkeyes fell behind 17-3 to Michigan State at halftime last week, Ferentz simply called his team out. Saturday, he went somewhere between Bobby Knight and Chuck Norris.
So, was it an “R” rating, a “PG 13”?
“We have to really be playing bad for him to yell like that,” Sims said. “It was bad. It was definitely HBO.”
And, hey, look, the Hawkeyes are .500 for the first time since September. At 5-5, the Hawkeyes are a Minnesota (1-8, 0-5 going into a night game against Illinois) and Western Michigan (3-6) away from a bowl bid.
“We put ourselves in position to maybe think about it,” Ferentz said. “But we’re basically a one-step-at-a-time team. I know this, it would’ve been tough if we didn’t pull it off today. It would’ve been really challenging. It’s our job to finish up now.”
For the first time all season, the bowl reps were back in the greeting line for Ferentz after his postgame.
The Insight Bowl guy wore a banana-colored jacket that could be seen from space. The Champs Sports Bowl people were there with their football-field green jackets.
“We would love to have Iowa,” said Tom Fridena, of the Phoenix, Ariz.,-based Insight Bowl. “We would love to have Iowa. ... Oh God, almighty. The only difficulty we have is we only have 80,000 seats in the stadium.”
Sims’ fourth-quarter touchdown runs (2 and 8 yards) brought the Hawkeyes back from a 17-14 deficit. They were his first two scores since the Syracuse game week 2.
Sims’ first score capped an 85-yard drive. Christensen was sacked and fumbled, giving the Wildcats (5-5, 2-4) first down at Iowa’s 32. But the Hawkeyes’ defense held, with true freshman defensive end Christian Ballard sacking Bacher on third-and-13 from Iowa’s 35.
Ferentz gambled big time here. The Hawkeyes stopped NU short on third-and-3, but the ‘Cats were called for a holding penalty. Iowa accepted. On the third-and-13, Iowa dropped eight players into coverage and rushed three. Freshmen Ballard and Adrian Clayborn both got there.
“It was critical,” Ferentz said. “And great to see.”
The Hawkeyes piled up six sacks, with Ballard and Bryan Mattison collecting 2.5 apiece. NU running back Tyrell Sutton had 131 total yards in the first half. He was held to just 25 in the second.
“It’s really strange when you feel like you’re executing very well, you’re moving the ball and putting points on the board,” said Bacher, who finished 27 of 54 for 264 yards, one TD and three interceptions. “Then all of the sudden, it stops.”
Sims’ second TD was set up by cornerback Charles Godfrey’s interception. Bacher, under siege all of the second half, threw a screen pass high to Sutton, who tipped it to Godfrey for a first down at NU’s 30.
This drive seemed doomed when, on first down, tight end Allen Reisner was called for a holding penalty. But on first-and-20 from the 40, Christensen hit wideout Derrell Johnson-Koulianos for a 30-yard gain to NU’s 10.
Credit offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe. He set up the ‘Cats secondary with a series of short 8- to 10-yard hitch routes in the first half and then caught NU cornerbacks jumping the short route and leaving the big completion open.
Wide receiver Trey Stross’ 20-yard TD catch before half was a hitch-and-go. Christensen’s 53-yarder to Stross that set up Sims’ first TD was a hitch-and-go. The pass to Johnson-Koulianos was a hitch-and-go. The Hawkeyes hitched and went in the second half, with Christensen finishing 21 of 36 for 299 yards and a TD.
“We knew they were going to be ready for it and (O’Keefe) called them at the right time,” Christensen said.
Northwestern’s defense played to stop the run and dared the Hawkeyes to beat them with Christensen’s arm. He completed 12 of 19 for 203 yards in the second half.
“Jake was on, he was great today,” Stross said. “He put the ball where it needed to be and he threaded a few in there. They didn’t respect our passing game, but we made it happen today.”
The whole point of Ferentz’s halftime rant was wake-up call, jump start, defibrillation. Ferentz saw a team going through the motions and kicked it in the can.
“Last year at Minnesota was worse,” Sims said. “He was going crazy, and it must have worked. Everybody came out to play.”
It’s not that simple, of course. Nothing has been simple with this team.