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.


The first time you could really see what Kirk Ferentz was building at Iowa

Iowa 26, Penn State 23 (2OT) | Nov. 4, 2000

Iowa's Kyle Tripper (83) hugs teammate Ryan Hansen after Hansen intercepted a Penn State pass to win the game in the second overtime on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2000, at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa. (The Gazette)
Iowa's Kyle Tripper (83) hugs teammate Ryan Hansen after Hansen intercepted a Penn State pass to win the game in the second overtime on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2000, at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa. (The Gazette)

Three cool things:

1. Yep, totally overdid the “sexy” thing. Sorry, Ryan Hansen. Your big moment deserved better treatment.

I did a radio show in Iowa City during the week after this game. It was Brent Balbinot’s old show on KXIC, I think.

Anyway, they took a caller who specifically asked to speak with me.

Uh oh. That’s the international sign for “ax to grind.”

Sure enough, it was a dude taking me to task for way overdoing the “sexy” thing,

I think the caller was A.J. Blazek. I’ve never asked him that and I did talk to him before the game Iowa played at Rutgers in 2016. Blazek, who’s the assistant head coach/offensive line coach for the Scarlet Knights, still is the same guy.

Really enjoyed re-connecting and wish him nothing but the best in this crazy business.

That call ended amicably, by the way. If that wasn’t you, A.J., well, I’m pretty sure it was. Hey, all’s fair in sports and talking on the radio.

2. Nate Kaeding game??!?!? Let’s save that for a minute. It’s coming up here pretty quickly.

But ... Kaeding did tie a school record with four field goals, including a career-long 49-yarder, in this one.

3. Beaver Stadium has some age to it. The locker room and postgame areas are a Byzantine course of steel pillars and cement-block bunkers.

Kirk Ferentz has had some good and bad moments in those bunkers.

2000 was my first trip. At this time, the view from the press box included Happy Valley and the mountains and hills. Now, you can still sort of see it over the luxury boxes.

I also remember a big jet plane flying directly over the stadium. I thought, well, the Hawkeyes are going to miss their charter if this baby goes into OT.

And the Hawkeyes did the Hokey Pokey after this one. I don’t remember them doing the Hayden Fry tradition before or after this. (And I know because the opposing locker room used to be right next to the interview room. You could hear everything.)

Quote: “I don’t want anybody to get the wrong opinion of me, but I’m going to vote for Ryan Hansen in that poll they took. I’m with them on that one. What a great play, what a great ending.” — Kirk Ferentz

Note: Ferentz is 4-3 at Beaver Stadium. The years Iowa has won at Penn State: 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2009. Take out 2000, what happened in those other three years? Good stuff happened.

One more quick story from State College. This one is from 2007, so it didn’t make this list.

I’d seen John Kroul, Matt Kroul’s dad, around the program and had gotten to know him. My wife and I used to get all of our eggs from Kroul Farms.

The 2007 game was bad. Iowa was pinned.

Sitting in the State College airport the next morning, I ended up walking down the tarmac alongside John.

He threw his arm around my shoulders and said, “I’m not going to have to beat the [bleep] out of you, am I?”

He was kidding. It was the perfect thing to say. If you see me at an airport after a loss, do that. We’ll laugh and maybe that will make things a little better in the moment.

Why No. 33? — This was a hugely important foundation game. Huge. Can’t state that enough.

Wait, wait, one more little note.

The headline in the next morning’s Centre Daily Times (the Happy Valley newspaper)? It was simple and effective and I would totally steal this if I were a headline writer trying to encapsulate a shocking home loss.


One more, and this one comes with some regret: freshman defensive back Benny Sapp made 10 tackles, had a sack and broke up four passes in this one.


Game story from 2000

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Maybe what they needed all along was a little sex.

Ryan Hansen began the week by being named People magazine’s sexiest athlete alive. He ends the week a hero, with an interception and a Hawkeye road victory.

The senior defensive back plucked a tipped pass out of the air in the second overtime to give Iowa its first road victory in 12 games, 26-23, over Penn State Saturday before 95,437 fans at Beaver Stadium.

Sex sells, apparently.

“I don’t want anybody to get the wrong opinion of me,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said, “but I’m going to vote for Ryan Hansen in that poll they took. I’m with them on that one.

“What a great play, what a great ending.”

Iowa kicker Nate Kaeding gave the Hawkeyes (2-8, 2-4 Big Ten) the 26-23 lead with a 26-yard field goal to begin the second overtime. Then on first down, Penn State quarterback Rashard Casey, who had a career day passing against the Hawkeyes, hit tight end Tony Stewart in the chest, the ball bounced in the air and the sexy safety swooped in for an interception at Iowa’s 14-yard line.

“It’s been kind of an eventful week,” Hansen said, smiling sexily. “A good way to end it. I just went over to make the tackle, the ball flew out and I went for it.”

A lot of Hawkeyes came up sexy Saturday.

Kaeding tied a school record with four field goals, including a career-long 49-yarder. Quarterback Kyle McCann played perhaps his best game, completing 25 of 37 for 232 yards, a touchdown and an interception, and made just enough key plays in the second half to keep the Hawkeyes alive. Freshman defensive back Benny Sapp made 10 tackles, had a sack and broke up four passes, a season for a lot of defensive backs.

“I don’t know about sexy, but Ryan made the play,” said Sapp, who now has 11 pass breakups this season. “I guess you could say that makes him sexy.”

Iowa’s offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage in the first half. Iowa’s defensive line dominated the line of scrimmage in the first half. And Ferentz actually won an argument with officials and got an intentional grounding call on Penn State.

How sexy is that?

“I think everybody, even the big, ugly offensive linemen, is feeling pretty sexy right now,” said receiver Kevin Kasper, who caught six passes Saturday to tie Iowa’s career reception record with 146. “Everybody feels sexy when you win.”

The Hawkeyes, who won despite being outgained, 434-395, knocked Penn State (4-6, 3-3 Big Ten) out of bowl contention. The best the Nittany Lions can do now is finish .500. The Lions needed to win five straight games to qualify for a bowl. They won two in a row before Saturday.

“Now it’s hard to take,” said Casey, who, after avoiding assault charges this earlier this week, set career highs with 27 of 51 for 302 yards. “We worked so hard to get here, and we were a couple of inches away.”

The victory was Iowa’s first on the road since a 37-14 win at Illinois on Sept. 26, 1998. The Hawkeyes, who played in their first overtime, are now 4-3 at Penn State, which also played its first overtime.

“I think a few people got banged up in the celebration,” Kasper said. “But that’s a good kind of pain.”

They sang the school song in the locker room. Ferentz, who, after nearly two years, signed his contract and received a one-year extension, wanted to give a gameball to every senior on the team, but was overruled and received his second this season, the other being the Michigan State victory.

“We wanted him to have it,” senior center A.J. Blazek said. “Everything he goes through, he deserves it.”

They even broke out the Hokey Pokey. You wondered if some of the players had forgotten the dance steps of celebration Hayden Fry brought to Iowa so many years and victories ago.

“I’d done the Hokey Pokey before, but I’m one of the elder statesmen among the boys,” said McCann, who frustrated Penn State’s blitz with his feet, rushing 16 times for 49 yards. “I’d done it a time or two, but, yeah, it had been a while.”

The Hawkeyes owned most of the first half, storming to a 13-0 lead on McCann’s 6-yard pass to Kahlil Hill and two Kaeding field goals, the second coming with 1:38 left in the first half.

Penn State’s Ryan Primanti put the Lions on the board with a 42-yard field goal with 35 seconds left to pull PSU within 13-3.

The Lions dominated the second half, outgaining the Hawkeyes, 282-153. The Lions tied the game at 13-13 on Casey’s 2-yard TD pass to tight end John Gilmore.

After going three-and-out three times and picking up one first down, the Hawkeyes drove to PSU’s 26, where Kaeding drilled a 46-yarder to give Iowa a 16-13 lead with 6:17 left in the game.

“We needed points, especially on that one,” said Kaeding, a freshman from Iowa City. “We were struggling, but we still kept the lead and that was important.”

The Lions blew off an intentional grounding call that Ferentz spent a timeout to squeeze out officials and tied the game on Primanti’s 28-yard field goal with 2:59 left.

The score stayed 16-16 going into overtime. Penn State had a shot to win when tailback Eric McCoo rushed 34 yards to Iowa’s 39, but Primanti left a 56-yarder short with four seconds left.

“I made a good strike on it, it just came up a little short,” said Primanti, who hit 3 of 4 field goals. “I’m not going to go home and hang my head. I gave it my best.”

The Lions took their only lead, 23-16, on Casey’s 6-yard run in the first overtime. Iowa running back Ladell Betts, who finished with 101 yards on 25 carries, sent the game into double overtime with an 11-yard TD run.

Kaeding’s 26-yarder gave Iowa a 26-23 lead to start the second overtime. Hansen’s game-ending interception came on the next play.

And a horde of happy Hawkeyes piled on their sexy safety.

“I don’t know anything about Ryan being sexy,” Blazek said. “I just know winning feels awfully good.”