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Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz has 143 wins under his belt at the University of Iowa, one away from the all-time record.

The Gazette will count down each win, as ranked by writer Marc Morehouse.


Round 1: Iowa vs. Ben Roethlisberger

Iowa 44, Miami (Ohio) 19 | Sept. 8, 2001

Iowa quarterback Kyle McCann reacts after throwing a touchdown pass to Dallas Clark during the third quarter against Miami (Ohio) Saturday, Sept. 8, 2001 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. (The Gazette)
Iowa quarterback Kyle McCann reacts after throwing a touchdown pass to Dallas Clark during the third quarter against Miami (Ohio) Saturday, Sept. 8, 2001 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. (The Gazette)

Three cool things:

1. This was the first of Iowa’s three games against quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. This probably was the least interesting.

Wait, what?

Roethlisberger still is playing in the NFL. He’s a Steelers legend and two-time Super Bowl champion. Before all of that, he was the tall kid from Findlay, Ohio, playing “down” at Miami when he would’ve fit like a glove at Ohio State. Well, Ohio State can’t take everybody.

Also, in this particular game, Roethlisberger ran 80 yards for a TD (at the 12:08 mark in the video below).

Want more great football name dropping? Roethlisberger was picked off in this game by Iowa defensive end Aaron Kampman. Yeah, we’ve seen some cool things together on this ride. That’s a legends game right there.

Safety Chris Smith did Kampman one better, returning his pick 33 yards for a score.

You’ll hear more about this as we move along, but Iowa got up for these games against Roethlisberger and the early 2000s defenses were marauding piranhas.

2. The totally forgotten Kahlil Hill career. I first started covering Hill when he was dominating everything at Iowa City High. Totally cool kid.

Kirk Ferentz’s first year was full of weird twists that didn’t help things. A big one of those was Hill’s season-long suspension in 1999 for an over-the-counter drug that contained a banned performance-enhancing substance.

So consider this, in three seasons, Hill is No. 8 on Iowa’s career receiving list with 1,892 yards. If he would’ve had four years, Marvin McNutt and Derrell Johnson-Koulianos would’ve been chasing his records in the late 2000s.

3. RIP Terry Hoeppner. When Iowa lost at Indiana, 31-28, in 2005, Roethlisberger gave his old coach a call. They finally beat Iowa. He coached two seasons at Indiana before brain cancer took his life in 2007. He was the fit for Indiana.

Quote: Kyle McCann’s numbers were here (hand above head), and Roethlisberger’s numbers were here (hand below knee).

McCann completed 13 of 16 (81.3 percent) for 201 yards, four TDs and a pick. His QB efficiency in this game was 256.8.

“If he (McCann) were standing here, I would say, ‘Kyle, you did better than I thought you could,’” Hoeppner said. “It was an awesome performance.”

Note: There were five fullback carries for Iowa in this one. Iowa fullbacks had two carries last season. Remember, offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz has the fullbacks and tight ends this year. It might look a little different.

Why No. 121? — I view 2001 a lot like 2008. It was a season where Iowa found itself a little and started putting it together and building up to mega seasons in 2002 and 2009.

The other Iowa-Roethlisberger games were more interesting.


Game story from 2001

IOWA CITY — Go ahead. You know you can’t help yourself.

So, go ahead, pick and prod and probe your way through it. Surely, there’s something about Saturday worthy of hand-wringing.

The weather, maybe? The day was lit with a 40-watt bulb. More?

The third-team defense? OK, yeah, anything else?

Penalties? OK.

Moving on.

Suddenly, the Hawkeyes are their own worst critics. They pull out to a lead of blowout proportions, take their foot off the gas and the third-team defense gives up a big touchdown run and a couple TD passes.

Never mind that.

Iowa scored its 44 points on big, fun plays and then chilled, pretty much. Miami (Ohio) grunted out its 19 points, flailing until the bitter end of the Hawkeyes’ 44-19 non-conference victory before 58,291 at Kinnick Stadium.

Senior quarterback Kyle McCann tossed a career-high four TD passes to help the Hawkeyes (2-0) to a 44-0 lead with 7 minutes, 50 seconds left in the third quarter.

To that point, Iowa’s defense held the RedHawks (0-2) to 46 yards. But after Iowa free safety Chris Smith returned an interception 33 yards for a 44-0 lead, all heck broke loose.

Well, Miami’s first-team offense planted three scores on Iowa reserves, the last coming with 25 seconds left. If that qualifies as heck.

“I’m sure some of the younger guys didn’t quite know what they were doing all the time,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “That’s something we’ve got to get squared away. It’ll catch up to us.”

That’s the Hawkeyes so far. They have to really look to find their mistakes. Shake down the film. Check the huddle breaks for slackers. Is the kicking tee clean?

“I’m OK with that,” Ferentz said.

Fueled by freshman quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the RedHawks churned out 388 yards. Roethlisberger completed 9 of 18 for 173 yards, two TDs and two interceptions. He galloped for an 80-yard TD with seven minutes left in the third.

That sounds like a lot. It wasn’t.

“We had a great thing going there, and then we let a couple things loose,” said senior defensive end Aaron Kampman, who picked off his second pass this season. “First-team, second or third, there can’t be any drop-off. We learned that today.”

Iowa also learned McCann is its No. 1 QB. Junior Brad Banks is the tantalizing, athletic alternative, but McCann is — well, at the risk of coming off cheesy — the man.

McCann completed 13 of 16 for 201 yards and four TDs. He had zip on the ball, too, hitting junior tight end Dallas Clark between defenders for a couple of completions and slinging a 52-yard TD bomb to senior wideout Kahlil Hill.

“If he (McCann) were standing here, I would say, ‘Kyle, you did better than I thought you could,’” Miami Coach Terry Hoeppner said. “It was an awesome performance.”

Iowa’s version of the West Coast offense was in full view Saturday. McCann pushed all the buttons, including fullback and tight end.

He hit fullback Jeremy Allen in the flat for a 15-yard TD and a 7-0 lead on the first drive. McCann hit Clark with two short passes the sophomore turned into touchdowns (18 and 32 yards), breaking tackles and outrunning linebackers.

“I think the West Coast offense is just that,” McCann said, “putting people in situations where they can make plays and give the offense an advantage.”

Iowa took a 14-0 lead when McCann bombed it to Hill, whose catch was a midair cartwheel between two Miami defenders.

“Kyle put it in a great spot, only where I could catch it,” Hill said. “He threw it early before I got past the DB. He trusted that I was going to get behind him.”

And in case Iowa had forgotten, the Hawkeyes also learned that Hill is the total package.

He caught six passes for 94 yards and a TD. He followed his 52-yard TD reception with a 58-yard punt return for a TD, which was called back because of a holding penalty.

(For those of you still prodding, ugh, penalties.)

Hill caught passes, returned kicks and blocked. A wide receiver package can’t get much more total.

“I thought he was outstanding today,” Ferentz said. “Tremendous catch, great blocking, his job on special teams, just excellent.”

After watching the Hawkeyes roll up 331 rushing yards last week, Miami stacked the line of scrimmage with eight defenders, limiting senior Ladell Betts to 37 yards on 10 carries.

Betts wasn’t hurt. He declared himself 100 percent after the game. It was a case of Iowa taking what Miami offered, which was red-carpet treatment to the QBs.

Banks directed a mammoth 17-play, 66-yard drive that ate 8:15 off the clock. He capped it with a 5-yard TD run, giving Iowa a 24-0 lead at halftime.

“There was a lot of freedom for our QBs out there today,” Betts said. “Of course, I’d like to play more, but you can’t argue with what these guys did.”

Iowa’s first-team defense has yet to allow a point this season.

At halftime, Miami had 26 total yards and one first down. Iowa had 276 yards. The first quarter was an even bigger thud for the Redhawks, who had 3 yards to Iowa’s 155.

“I don’t think we could’ve started any worse than we started,” Hoeppner said.

The Hawkeyes couldn’t have started any better.