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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.


Iowa's recovery from 4-8 in 2012, 51 weeks later

Iowa 38, Nebraska 17 | Nov. 29, 2013

Iowa linebacker James Morris knocks the ball loose from Nebraska quarterback Ron Kellogg III at Memorial Stadium on Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, in Lincoln, Neb. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette-KCRG)
Iowa linebacker James Morris knocks the ball loose from Nebraska quarterback Ron Kellogg III at Memorial Stadium on Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, in Lincoln, Neb. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette-KCRG)

Three cool things:

1. In the grand scheme, 2013 doesn’t get the love it deserves.

But, dude, they were just 8-5. Even linebacker and spokesman and my vote for governor at some point James Morris said, yep, eight wins, not the best and not the worst.

Well you know, that’s some seasons for Iowa. Losing is an element with Iowa football. It’s never going away. It’s how you deal with it. I think classifying seasons can help.

2013 didn’t reach great heights, but it was a massive rebound from 2012. (Oh, perhaps a better discussion is what was worse, the angst of 2014 or the flaming wreck that was 2012?)

4-8 was a wake-up call. These guys were left with that mess in their laps and they did the best they could with it. I don’t care if that does it for you. That’s what it was.

I think Kirk Ferentz gets a giant break for 2012. There was the built-in excuse of two new coordinators. After 2013, you thought there was a championship buildup coming. And then the foul mood that was 2014.

I know this about 2013: It was a lot of fun to see Iowa turn really great linebackers loose on a defense. Iowa linebackers haven’t enjoyed disruption numbers like 2013 since.

2. I have nearly 10 years of Hawkeye videos on YouTube now. If I actually knew how to edit video, it’d probably be a lot more useful. I know, it sounds pretty impressive, but this is where newspaper cave man quietly laments technology and yet is even more quietly happy that he doesn’t know how to use it.

The top video (and this just happened and I didn’t even realize it) is Ferentz after Ohio State last year. I wouldn’t have called that because Ricky Stanzi on “Love it or leave it” was No. 1 for so long.

Coming in at No. 3 is Bo Pelini’s postgame after this one.

It’s an existential romp. What is close? What is winning? What does any of this matter?

Give it a watch. It’s got a little something for everyone.

“I thought that was a chicken[bleep] call.”

“I saw Kirk Ferentz on the other sideline acting a lot worse than I had. I didn’t see a flag coming out on him?”

I like Pelini. I think Nebraska broke him. I think the rant that he thought was private was after the Ohio State win in Lincoln during the 2011 season. You know the rant, the one where he said [bleep] the fans and the media and everyone. Bleep, bleep, bleep.

The fact that it was recorded and leaked to the WikiLeaks of sprotz makes Nebraska a seriously creepy place. To undermine a sitting head coach like that? I guess you could file it under “protecting the brand,” but it relegates you to creepdom. Forever.

Give it a view.

And now ask yourself if you want anyone wearing an Iowa coaching polo to be this unhinged. Save the passion BS. You don’t want this.

3. A couple of names come up here. Out of the blue. I’m sorry, I didn’t want you to think about mortality today. Please, send prayers and vibes to the families of Sam Foltz and Mike Sadler. In 2016, they were killed in a car accident in Wisconsin coming back from helping coach at a camp.

I really do feel like it’s a brotherhood with the players. You’re part of it. The fact you know these names and can forever place them in their team colors means something.

BREAKING: Iowa covered a fake punt in this one. You think it’s funny. I don’t remember a lot of funny tweets coming my way during the gullible years.

Down 17-10 with about five minutes left in the third quarter, Nebraska tried a fake punt. It was fourth-and-3 from the Cornhuskers 32. Sam Foltz took the snap and broke to the right. Iowa was in its base 4-3 defense. Three Huskers with offensive lineman and defensive lineman numbers tried to block defensive end Drew Ott and linebackers Christian Kirksey and James Morris.

Kirksey closed on Foltz and tackled him for an 8-yard loss. Next play, Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock drilled wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley for a score and the Hawkeyes maintained a relatively comfortable margin en route to their first win at Nebraska since 1943.

Every season comes with a certain kind of nuttiness, good and/or bad. Fake punts were certainly part of the tapestry of 2013. Iowa was stung twice. The first was in the season opener when Northern Illinois fought off its toughest challenge of the season with the help of a fake that went for 42 yards and led to a field goal in a 30-27 win at Kinnick Stadium. Then Oct. 5 at Kinnick, Michigan State punter Mike Sadler gained 25 yards that also led to a field goal in MSU’s 26-14 victory.

But this was a season of righting wrongs. The Hawkeyes turned around a 4-8 from 2012 to an 8-4 in 2013. They righted that big wrong and then they cleaned up the fake punt thing, which had victimized them four consecutive times (Eastern Illinois 2010, Wisconsin 2010, NIU and Michigan State this season).

“I’ve heard about that, I remember those plays,” Coach Kirk Ferentz said, interrupting a question about fake punts, obviously knowing what was coming. “Thanks for bringing them up. I love reading about them, too.”

I guess I loved writing about them. I mean, remember, football scientist. Lightning striking and all of that.

Quote: By the way, Pelini would go on to coach another entire season. We know how it ended.

”I don’t coach to make a case. You guys have chosen to make a story of it all year. It’s impacted our football team. It’s hurt our football team. Let’s call a spade a spade. If they want to fire me, go ahead. I don’t apologize for anybody, myself or this staff. Our record since I’ve been here speaks for itself. This program’s heading in a good direction.” — Bo Pelini

Note: It was Iowa’s first victory at Nebraska since 1943 and first win over the Cornhuskers since 1981.

Why No. 56? — I don’t know. I seemed to find a lot to write about.


Game story from 2013

LINCOLN, Neb. — Fifty-one weeks ago, give or take, the Iowa Hawkeyes turned in their gear. It was the end of a 4-8 season. It was time for comfort food, a nice blanket and maybe some Netflix.

This is when you curl up in the fetal position and turn off the cellphone. That’s what you do if you want to live in the stink of 4-8.

“At the end of last year, it was a nasty feeling in the locker room,” defensive tackle Louis Trinca-Pasat said. “We felt like we didn’t belong there.”

Fifty-one weeks later, it’s pretty safe to say the Hawkeyes belong.

Iowa completed the flip from 4-8 to 8-4 with a dominating 38-17 victory over Nebraska before 91,260 fans Friday at Memorial Stadium.

Iowa slew a lot of demons, so take a deep breath: It was Iowa’s first victory at Nebraska since 1943 and first win over the Cornhuskers since 1981. Iowa claimed the Heroes Trophy for the first time since NU joined the Big Ten in 2011. The four-win improvement is the fourth-biggest turnaround in the country, ranking behind Auburn (plus-7) and Boston College and Missouri (plus-5).

The “51 weeks” was the motto of the week in the Iowa football complex. It was taped to all the doors. The clock on digging out of 4-8 started after walking off the Kinnick Stadium field 13-7 losers to the Huskers last season, finishing Iowa’s worst season under Kirk Ferentz since 2000.

The Hawkeyes ended week 52 by forcing three turnovers out of the Huskers, including a fumble in the fourth quarter that eventually turned into running back Mark Weisman’s 2-yard touchdown and a 31-17 Iowa lead with 9:17 left.

Weisman scored two TDs and Iowa’s defense made it stand, holding NU to 89 rushing yards, including 85 from Ameer Abdullah, the Big Ten’s leading rusher. Nebraska entered the game averaging 233.7 rushing yards a game. The Hawkeyes had average starting field position from their 45-yard line, leaving Iowa with only a long scoring drive of 41 yards.

Week 52 ended with “In Heaven There is no Beer” echoing through Memorial Stadium, the Hawkeyes sprinting across the big red “N” in the middle of Tom Osborne Field and a happy, dancing dash up the tunnel.

“At this time last year, we were saying, ‘Damn, we’re done,’” said quarterback Jake Rudock, who sprained a knee and was forced out in the fourth quarter. “I remember going to a class, a meeting and then a workout that next week. It was weird having to turn in the helmets.”

The Hawkeyes will need their helmets. There’s the bowl, which likely won’t be made official until Dec. 8 when BCS bowl bids are announced. Logic points to Iowa in the Outback Bowl. The Big Ten will need to have two teams selected for BCS bowl bids, which is a distinct possibility but comes with no guarantee.

“This puts us in a great bowl, probably the Outback,” said wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley, whose 24-yard TD catch put Iowa up 24-10 in the third quarter. “We just finished the year off strong. When you finish something strong, you feel really good about it.”

Ferentz had a chance to wag his finger. At the beginning of the season, he was named one of the five worst coaches in the country by Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel.

“Everybody’s entitled to their opinion, it’s the great thing about our country,” Ferentz said, after his team sang the school fight song and let out a primal scream that echoed through the visitor’s locker room in the south end stands.

“I don’t think he went to jail for saying that.”

Week 52 began with questions about whether or not Iowa-Nebraska could count as a rivalry. Week 52 ended with screams of joy thundering out of Iowa’s locker room.