Three cool things:
1. Do the math. Seriously, do the math. It’s why you love college football.
There are 130 FBS teams. They all have 85 scholarships to give. That’s a pool of around 11,000 players. On any given Saturday, you have 11,000 super humans running around on a football field doing things we all wish we could.
Yes, we don’t have 11,000 super humans now, do we? This is the biggest ask of the populace in the sporting world. I know that there are bigger sports and more numbers in maybe something like soccer, but I don’t cover soccer. This is where my microscope is pointed.
So, Saturdays are about finding who’s super human and who is just, you know, human.
Sometimes, the gulf between super and human shows up in a fairly obvious and, depending on your allegiance, a fairly pain manner.
So, here lies Frank Duong.
The Purdue walk-on safety was given the task of tackling Shonn Greene in the hole. This didn’t end well, a few times, on this day in 2008.
On his 75-yard touchdown, Greene put a spin move on Duong and left him grasping the chilly north wind. Duong didn’t go away. On Greene’s 14-yarder that sealed the Hawkeyes’ victory, Duong, all 5-foot-8, 178 pounds of him, met Greene in the hole.
Greene, the 235-pound runaway appliance, bounced off and scored. Duong stayed on the turf and took inventory.
This is about finding the matchup. You see it every Saturday. Sometimes, it’s more obvious than others.
2. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before ... cold, gray day in Kinnick and the game comes down to the final play.
Happens a lot. Probably too much for some of you. Somehow, it happened in this game.
That last pass didn’t hang in the overcast sky for an hour. It only seemed like it for the Hawkeyes.
With five seconds left, Curtis Painter launched the Boilermakers’ last chance. Iowa linebacker Pat Angerer didn’t see it. He was too busy hitting Painter and worrying about a late-hit penalty.
“I was kind of worried that they were going to flag me for a late hit,” Angerer said, “and then I thought he caught it. I was like, oh man, I’d be watching this on ‘SportsCenter.’”
Defensive tackle Matt Kroul was in the same boat. He was trying to get to Painter. He had no idea what was going on with the pass.
“I think I spun three times and ended up on the ground,” he said. “It seemed like it took forever.”
Painter had the 25-mph wind at his back. The week before, the wind helped Daniel Murray’s 31-yard field goal beat Penn State. This week, it carried Painter’s pass into the first row of the Kinnick Stadium bleachers, preserving Iowa’s 22-17 victory.
Came down to the wind.
”I saw the ball go up,” free safety Brett Greenwood said. “Our philosophy is to just knock it down. It was a relief when it went over our heads.”
Angerer’s view was even scarier for the Hawkeyes.
“I actually thought that they caught it,” he said. “Didn’t hear anything from the fans and I started to get a little nervous.”
3. I’ll be honest, it was fun tracking Greene’s numbers in 2008.
With his 211 yards in this one, Greene was the only running back in the country with 100 yards in 11 games. After this week, Greene led the Football Bowl Subdivision with 1,585 yards but was second in game average with 144.09 yards a game.
Quote: Kirk Ferentz on Greene: ”I’ve just been impressed. I continue to be so impressed. Production is one thing, but this guy just comes every week and plays hard. That’s what great players do. I think it’s fair to say he’s a great player. I’ll say that now. He’s playing great, I’ll put it that way.”
Note: Can an Iowa player win the Heisman? Yes. Maybe I’m being overly optimistic or naive.
”Do I want to (go to New York, where the Heisman ceremony is held)?” Greene asked. “I really don’t care too much for it. Heisman? I’ll let all those other people deal with that stuff.”
Ferentz isn’t a big “ranker.” But he did say at the time ...
“I know there are a lot of QBs playing at an extremely high level,” he said. “I don’t want to put the whammy on anyone, but after 11 weeks, I can’t imagine anyone playing their position better than Shonn’s playing it.
“Maybe there’s someone out there, but I probably would have heard of him by now. That’s with all due respect to a lot of good players, I don’t mean that in a slighting way. I’m sure there’s a better back out there somewhere.”
Why No. 55? — I’ll bet Frank Duong is doing good things right now.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF THE GAME
Game story from 2008
IOWA CITY — Here lies Frank Duong.
He was a good kid. Lived a good life. All he wanted to do for the Purdue Boilermakers was play a little football.
He leaves a jersey, a helmet and some snot bubbles.
Who was Frank Duong? He was the Purdue safety Shonn Greene turned into an NFL audition tape.
Greene picked up the Hawkeyes and carried them into the end zone twice, and that was just enough in Iowa’s gritty, gutty, grubby 22-17 victory over Purdue before 67,676 fans Saturday at Kinnick Stadium, which officially ended Iowa’s streak of 37 straight sellouts.
The Hawkeyes gutted it out in front of scouts from five bowls — Capital One, Outback, Alamo, Champs Sports and Insight.
To be fair to Frank Duong, he’s one of the many players Greene has posterized this year. Duong goes in line with the entire Wisconsin defense and a whole bunch more.
On his 75-yard touchdown, Greene put a spin move on Duong and left him grasping the chilly north wind that again whipped through Kinnick. But give Duong credit, he didn’t go away. On Greene’s 14-yarder that sealed the Hawkeyes’ victory, Duong, all 5-foot-8, 178 pounds of him, met Greene in the hole. Greene, the 235-pound runaway appliance, bounced off and scored. Duong stayed on the turf and took inventory.
“He was flying down all game, so I had to give him something, try to slow him down a little bit,” said Greene, who finished with 211 yards on 30 carries.
Frank Duong, he gave his all for Purdue (3-8, 1-6 Big Ten). Let’s remember fondly the walk-on who’s more of a track guy.
“I wouldn’t go up and hit Shonn like that, I get out of his way,” Iowa linebacker Pat Angerer said. “I think it’s tough, especially having to walk back in the huddle and look your teammates in the eyes. Probably sucks pretty bad.”
As much damage as Greene did for Iowa (7-4, 4-3), the Boilers still had a shot. It wasn’t over until quarterback Curtis Painter’s last-gasp bomb from Iowa’s 27-yard line sailed through the end zone and onto the turf and in front of Iowa’s marching band.
Remember, this was gritty, gutty, grubby. It was another bad-weather game, limiting Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi to eight completions and just 72 yards. It was after last week’s monumental upset of No. 3 Penn State. It was even the same end zone that Daniel Murray popped his 31-yard field goal through to beat the Nittany Lions last week.
This was suck-it-up city.
“You just hold your breath on plays like that,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Only good thing was they only got one shot. Until it’s over, you can’t relax, but when it hit the ground, I felt very good about things.”
Greene was one of the last Hawkeyes off the field. He exited to chants of “one more year.”
Officially, Greene is a junior. Chronologically, he is a fifth-year senior. He has a year of eligibility left, but he will turn 24 before next season starts. And he has a resume with 11 straight 100-yard games, 1,585 yards on 256 carries and 15 rushing touchdowns.
“Obviously, the program would like to have him back,” said senior receiver Andy Brodell, who caught four passes for 42 yards. “But the way he’s playing, he’s probably got options.”
The “will he stay, will he go” discussion is a little premature. Greene wouldn’t tip his hand.
“I don’t ... I’m not thinking about that right now,” Greene said. “I’m trying to get to a better bowl game.”
Greene said he hasn’t heard from agents, but he has heard from students.
“Yeah, they’re like you guys (reporters),” he said. “I tell them the same thing. I just want to finish out this year.”
Frank Duong was nowhere to be found, but Purdue cornerback Brandon King votes NFL. Luckily for you Iowa fans, this isn’t entirely up to the opponents. But if Greene needs help packing, Frank Duong and the Wisconsin defense would volunteer.
“(Greene) doesn’t say anything,” King said. “He’s the first running back I’ve been around on the field who keeps his mouthpiece in. He doesn’t say anything. He just ran really, really hard and just prides himself in running guys over, like he does.”
The only thing Greene didn’t do Saturday was close out the Boilers. With fourth-and-1 at Purdue’s 20 with 1:09 left in the game, Torri Williams and Chris Carlino combined to stop Greene for no gain and give the Boilers one last chance. Painter made the most of it.
In just four series Saturday, Painter completed 24 of 30 for 190 yards, two TDs and a tip-drill interception that defensive end Broderick Binns bumped and set for Angerer at Iowa’s 4 with 7:11 left and Iowa hanging onto a 22-10 lead.
Painter completed three straight before defensive tackle Mitch King made a fifth-year senior, four-year starter play, sacking Painter and forcing Purdue to call its last timeout with 32 seconds left.
“I knew if we got a pressure or a sack, it was going to take two or three plays off their drive,” said King, who shed his “Mighty Thor” blond locks for a brush cut this week. “It was going to wind down the clock. I’m just glad I’m the one who did it.”
King helped end it. Fittingly, Iowa’s emotional senior leader came up big right on cue. It was the only poetry to be found on a gritty, grubby, gutty day.