Sign up for our countdown email.

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.


A read on what Kirk Ferentz thinks about Big Ten divisional titles

No. 5 Iowa 40, Purdue 20 | Nov. 21, 2015

Iowa tight end Henry Krieger Coble (80) and tight end George Kittle (46) celebrate a touchdown by Krieger Coble in the fourth quarter against Purdue at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Iowa tight end Henry Krieger Coble (80) and tight end George Kittle (46) celebrate a touchdown by Krieger Coble in the fourth quarter against Purdue at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Three cool things:

1. This is the ninth season of divisional play in the Big Ten. It only felt like “Legends and Leaders” lasted forever (Legends and Leaders actually lasted only three seasons).

A trophy in Kinnick Stadium, I definitely flashed back to Wisconsin 2004, when Iowa claimed a share of the Big Ten title in Kinnick (more on that one later). I thought it was a big deal, for the program to win and immediately show you something of value, something that holds meaning, something to get crazy happy about.

The difference was the 2004 trophy was a championship trophy. This was a divisional trophy.

Now, this was 2015 and it was getting to be pucker time.

The Hawkeyes had a chance to clinch the West Division on this day vs. Purdue to move to 11-0. The next week, Iowa had a road game at Nebraska, which had a bye on this weekend.

Iowa was zeroing in on a 12-0 regular season. It probably was shortsighted on my part, with all of that context now in perfect hindsight, to ask whether or not the Big Ten West trophy was going to be in Kinnick.

“If we win, then we’re in, I guess, right?” Ferentz said. “Not to get cute, but that’s the way it is. That’s a really good thing, and that would mean we’re 11-0 and that would mean we’re 7-0, and, boy, that would be great, but we’re not done yet, so we’ll acknowledge that privately, and we’re going to have to move fast toward that next game because it’s going to come quick for us.

“They’ve already got their sights on it, so we’re going to have some time to make up for it.”

Ferentz was already feeling Nebraska. Trophy talk got the appropriate treatment. Hey, not every idea is going to be Woodshed, IA 52242.

By the way, I do remember Ferentz saying on the night of the Orange Bowl that you liked that 2009 wasn’t a championship season. That’s how coaches think. Satisfied college football coaches don’t last long.

2. I’m going to predict the NFL is going to start coming after more underclassmen because talent acquisition is a much better storyline than the national anthem controversy.

Not every player who walks into the Hansen Performance Center carries Iowa the same way. Some of the guys grow up here or in the region. They also come from all over the country.

Everyone is engaged and running in the same direction with the same verve, but not everyone starts with same amount of Hawkeye love in their hearts.

Being a Hawkeye means a ton to some of these guys, and in talking with recruiting coordinator Kelvin Bell the last few years, Iowa hopes the infusion of putting on the uniform and being a Hawkeye pushes them to reach a little higher than maybe they think they can.

That’s a long way of saying George Kittle and Henry Krieger Coble were born to be Hawkeyes.

In this one, Kittle and Krieger Coble combined to catch six passes for 125 yards and two TDs.

Kittle and Krieger Coble are cousins. Kittle thoroughly enjoyed his TD. I’ll let him describe it.

“I just got lucky, they were in this blitz that we knew they were going to run and C.J. (Beathard) got us into the right check,” Kittle said. “I just happened to fall out of a plane. It was nice.”

Fall out of a plane?

“There’s no one around,” Kittle said. “Empty space all around me.”

Krieger Coble was more subdued on his TD.

“We don’t really have a name for it, but it’s my job to get open,” Krieger Coble said. “It’s a ‘win’ route. What you have to do is try to get open and fortunately we had a few of those today.”

Either way, it was Cousin Day at Kinnick. Kittle carries enough joy in his everyday for everyone.

“I just feel great for all of the seniors, especially my family,” Kittle said. “I can’t really describe it. I love my team and of course I love my family. I was running on the field before he (Krieger Coble) even got in the end zone. It was fun.”

It also was Krieger Coble’s one and only TD in Kinnick.

3. Remember the snow? Sure you do.

Nine inches of snow fell between 6 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday. Crews were on scene all night moving snow from the field and the concourses. Athletics facilities director Damian Simcox was at the stadium from 6:30 p.m. Friday until the game’s completion.

Simcox’s crew was too good. It beat the snow, 47-7. That field was pristine. The bleachers? Iowa did warn everyone that those would be untouched.

You didn’t seem to mind.

Quote: Iowa went 0-for-4 in trophy games during 2014. They about-faced that in 2015.

Someone on Iowa’s staff (probably from the strength staff and maybe named Chris Doyle) threw a few shattered trophy cases around the weight room that summer to get everyone’s attention.

It worked.

“We didn’t, I think the coaches did it,” senior center Austin Blythe said when asked if the players had a hand in the smashing of the empty trophy cases. “Seeing that empty case was a punch in the gut. That’s not acceptable around here. We had to change the culture a little bit and set a new standard.”

Note: Just for the giggles, let’s go over what programs have actually played in a Big Ten championship game.

2011 — Wisconsin beat Michigan State

2012 — Wisconsin beat Nebraska

2013 — Michigan State beat Ohio State

2014 — Ohio State beat Wisconsin

2015 — Michigan State eat Iowa

2016 — Penn State beat Wisconsin

2017 — Ohio State beat Wisconsin

That breaks down to:

Wisconsin — Five appearances with a 3-2 record

Ohio State — Three appearances with a 2-1 record

Michigan State — Three appearances, two titles

Penn State — One appearance, one title

Iowa and Nebraska — One appearance

Teams that have yet to play at Lucas Oil Stadium: Michigan, Rutgers, Indiana, Maryland, Northwestern, Purdue, Minnesota and Illinois.

I think this is what caused everyone with a microphone or keyboard to dig into Michigan during the offseason.

Which one of these programs breaks through, beyond Michigan, of course?

I vote Purdue.

Why No. 28? — Maybe I marked this one too high because it was a division clincher, but there haven’t been many of those, so I think we’re good here.


Game story from 2015

Best in the West

IOWA CITY — A shattered, Plexiglas trophy case greeted Iowa players in their weight room at some point this summer. Out of nowhere, there it was one day.

Everyone knew what it meant.

“We didn’t, I think the coaches did it,” senior center Austin Blythe said when asked if the players had a hand in the smashing of the empty trophy cases. “Seeing that empty case was a punch in the gut. That’s not acceptable around here. We had to change the culture a little bit and set a new standard.”

No one knew where the broken case came from, but they knew why it was there, after an 0-for-4 trophy run last season. The players thought maybe strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle had a hand in it. That mangled case kept popping up. It was on display, for lack of a better term, on Mondays this season before the Hawkeyes faced trophy games. Iowa State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, the splintered shards were placed were everyone could see it.

The murder weapon was an ax. That was set next to it, too, giving the scene a dramatic touch.

“We’ve seen that a lot,” linebacker Cole Fisher said. “When we’ve had trophy games in the past, we’ve seen the empty case in the weight room. The theme this year is they all were broken.”

After the No. 5 Hawkeyes’ 40-20 victory Saturday over Purdue before an announced crowd of 62,920 at snowy Kinnick Stadium, it’s snowing trophies on the Hawkeyes.

Quarterback C.J. Beathard completed 12 of 20 passes for 213 yards and three TDs and running backs Jordan Canzeri and LeShun Daniels combined for 126 yards and three TDs to lead Iowa (11-0, 7-0) to its first Big Ten West Division championship.

The Hawkeyes clinched a berth in the Dec. 5 Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis, their first bid since the Big Ten added a conference title game in 2011. They did it in their grinder style, with Purdue (2-9, 1-6) actually outgaining Iowa, 405 to 387, but never recovering from a 20-0 deficit the Hawkeyes hung on it in their first three possessions.

Someone is going to have to run a credit card for a new trophy display.

“I couldn’t smash anything, maybe an egg or something,” said Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, crossing himself off the list of trophy case mauler suspects. “I don’t know, and I never asked, and I didn’t have anybody investigate, but I think the message was there, and again, it just wasn’t those games, it was just more so about if you’re going to win a trophy, you’ve got to go earn it, and you’ve got to do things right.”

Iowa’s opponent in the Big Ten title game is yet to be determined, but Michigan State has a chance to clinch the East with a victory over Penn State next weekend. No one at Iowa was willing to get that far ahead of themselves, not with a short week and a road trip to Nebraska (5-6, 3-4) still on the table.

Ferentz nixed any public celebration of the West Division trophy, instead keeping the trophy with the players in the locker room. Don’t worry, though, they did get division champion hats and T-shirts. Ferentz said early last week that there wouldn’t be a celebration in the stadium. He said they want an outright title.

On Saturday, preparedness was in question after a 7-yard TD pass to wide receiver Matt VandeBerg gave Iowa a 20-0 lead with 13:40 left in the second quarter. The Boilermakers scored on their next three possessions to pull within 20-13 with 10:26 left in the third quarter.

From there, Beathard kind of pieced together an eight-play, 91-yard drive that ended with a 35-yard TD pass to tight end George Kittle that gutted a Purdue blitz. Beathard completed 4 of 6 passes for 72 yards and slid to an 11-yard gain on a third-and-10 from Purdue’s 47.

Iowa’s defense, hanging in there by its fingernails, got a stop on a fourth down at Iowa’s 21. Beathard answered with the dagger on the next series, hitting tight end Henry Krieger Coble for a 22-yard TD and a 33-13 lead with 8:40 left in the game.

So, the team that had zero trophies last season now has a bonus West Division trophy zipped up outright with Wisconsin’s loss to Northwestern. The team that had zero trophies last season still has the Heroes Trophy on the table in Lincoln.

And one in Indianapolis. And who knows after that.

The broken trophy case of broken dreams can’t go into the dumpster just yet.