Three cool things:
1. I probably put too much on the final play in overtime. In the moment, I’d argue that’s really the only move.
In this one, Louis Trinca-Pasat, a big, athletic defensive tackle, tracked Northwestern quicksilver QB Kain Colter through traffic and finally caught him from behind to end the game and finally dagger the Cats.
In that moment, you could argue Trinca-Pasat was the perfect representation of Iowa football. LTP is a big kind of ’tweener defensive tackle. That already puts him in the “quintessential Hawkeye” conversation. And then he made the play that needed to be made and when the Hawkeyes needed it the most.
In that moment, with Iowa still stinging from frustrating losses to Northwestern’s trapeze deal at QB, big, sluggy Iowa caught the ... Well, The Mountain caught the Red Viper and you know how that went.
It was that kind of release for the Hawkeyes.
Embattled (yeah, embattled) QB Jake Rudock made a brilliant, “hanging in there” play in OT to give Iowa the winning points. It was a nice moment for TE C.J. Fiedorowicz, whose career should’ve had more of these (at least it feels like to me).
I always go back and watch the game again. Sometimes, two more. I fill in the blanks and try to put deeper, smarter thinking on things, but in the moment, the guy still standing on top of the pile at the end is the most interesting dude on the field to me.
2. Yes, Jake Rudock was an embattled QB at Iowa.
Somehow. I don’t know how. My working theory was that the team just liked C.J. Beathard better. Rudock didn’t suffer fools. He has a razor-sharp intelligence that he could weaponize. He was smarter than you and was more than happy to impose that will. Beathard was more laid back. He was everyone’s bud.
Incredibly, it all ended well. There was pain in getting there. I want to say Kirk Ferentz and company took too long on reaching a conclusion, but they reached it and Ferentz was brave enough to make that bold move going into the 2015 season.
Think about the boldness. And now wonder how in the heck that even happened. Totally un-KF move and it totally worked. For everyone.
3. There will be no more casual wins over Northwestern. We’ve touched on this a little during this exercise, I just want to emphasize that. I think most of you understand that Northwestern isn’t going anywhere and might be on a Stanford path to consistent championship contention.
During this late 2000s stretch, Iowa lost leads late to the Cats. This was a reversal and the players enjoyed every second of it.
“Just elation, relief, excitement, probably all those things wrapped into one,” Iowa linebacker James Morris said. “Euphoria. You saw everybody running around like they won the lottery. So it was just an awesome feeling.”
Quote: Why didn’t I do more with “critique-o-meter”?
“The critique-o-meter is out there, and that comes with the territory, but it just shows you what a fine line it is between winning and losing, too, and I think that’s the bottom line. If there is any bad that comes out of winning, you just have to stay grounded and stay focused on what’s going to help you win.” — Kirk Ferentz
Note: The players did that superfast school fight song thing with fans. That’s a theme that might come up one or two more times. I wish I could remember when I first started seeing that. I want to say maybe the mid-2000s.
Why No. 61? — 17-10 in overtime. You got to relive it with a negative result at Evanston last season. That was fun, huh?
PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF THE GAME
Game story from 2013
IOWA CITY — Jake Rudock couldn’t remember if he ended up on his back. He didn’t remember anything in the aftershock.
Rudock remembered the important things about his 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz. He remembered that Northwestern threw on a blitz. He remembered the defense was in a cover zero, with no deep safety. He remembered he had to get the ball out super fast.
“I don’t think I was on the ground,” the Iowa quarterback said. “I swear I don’t have a concussion, I promise. I’m really good.”
That TD pass was it for Iowa’s offense in the second half and overtime. Unlike the previous two Big Ten games, the Hawkeyes lived through a second-half funk, holding off Northwestern, 17-10, in overtime before 66,838 fans Saturday at Kinnick Stadium.
In danger of watching their third straight halftime lead go up in flames, defensive tackle Louis Trinca-Pasat flushed Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter out of the pocket, missed the elusive 200-pounder and then double-backed through some traffic and bear hugged him to the turf to stop Northwestern on fourth down to end it.
He stood over Colter and raised his arms to the sky. The Hawkeyes rushed the field. They savored this one.
The Hawkeyes, who snapped a four-game Big Ten losing streak at Kinnick, ran to the locker room and sang the school fight song loudly, brutally and very, very quickly, as is tradition with Coach Kirk Ferentz.
“We should’ve closed it a little earlier, but we got the win,” running back Damon Bullock said. “The better the win, the faster we sing it.”
That second-half funk seems to have settled in. Iowa scored on its first drive of the game, a mechanistic 14-play, 74-yarder that lasted 5:38, and then took a 10-0 lead on Mike Meyer’s 38-yard field goal with 9:56 left in the second quarter. And then just like last week at Ohio State, Iowa’s running game was packed up and basically put in a jar by a game Northwestern defense.
In their last three games, the Hawkeyes have rushed 25 times for 57 yards in the second half. In their three losses, Iowa has been outscored 53-10 in the second half. Saturday’s 305 yards total offense was the second-lowest this season.
“The critique-o-meter is out there, and that comes with the territory, but it just shows you what a fine line it is between winning and losing, too, and I think that’s the bottom line,” Ferentz said. “If there is any bad that comes out of winning, you just have to stay grounded and stay focused on what’s going to help you win.”
You could argue that kind of pulled Iowa through. Iowa stayed within the fine lines, while Northwestern scribbled.
Behind Colter’s 164 yards total offense, the Wildcats volleyed, tying the game 10-10 on Jeff Budzien’s 29-yard field goal with 9:09 remaining in the fourth quarter. With about 3 1/2 minutes left, Northwestern had first down at Iowa’s 30 and Colter rushed to Iowa’s 17, but Dan Vitale was called for an illegal block in the back. The Wildcats fumbled a pitch the next play and Iowa recovered.
“The two plays at the end of the game were inexcusable, the penalty and fumbling the football,” NU Coach Pat Fitzgerald said.
Iowa’s ensuing drive stalled at NU’s 35. With a 17 mph wind out of the northwest, a field goal wasn’t in the conversation, Meyer said. On fourth down, Rudock was intercepted by linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo. With seven seconds left, Kolter took a knee and it was overtime.
On third-and-7 from the 8, Rudock took a pre-snap look and saw NU safety Ibraheim Campbell and Ariguzo lurking in the middle of the field. He figured they were coming.
At first, it looked as if Rudock, who finished 19 of 27 for 169 yards, a TD and an interception, threw the ball away. Campbell was right there.
“That was great poise by Jake,” said Fiedorowicz, who called the TD the biggest of his career. “That guy was right in his face.”
Rudock knew he had to throw the ball high enough to give Fiedorowicz a chance to run under it. Campbell was so close he smelled Rudock’s deodorant.
“It all felt like it was in slow motion,” Fiedorowicz said. “That ball was in the air forever.”
That’s the fine line between the critique-o-meter getting Sunday off or spinning at light speed.