Three cool things:
1. I didn’t plan this. C’mon, you guys know I’m not this smart.
So, No. 65 was the Penn State night game when Iowa first started doing cool things with the crowd and colors. That was the first Kinnick Stadium “stripe” game. I know you guys remember, because I saw you do a fairly good job of striping Lucas Oil Stadium for the Big Ten title game in 2015.
For the most part, Iowa fans have their hearts set on mirth. I love that about you guys.
Anyway, this was THE MOTHER OF ALL CARD STUNT GAMES (goodness, an ’80s reference, sorry about that).
This also was a night game. Having witnessed Hawkeye fans nail the striping, I didn’t make the same bad Twitter joke about tailgating and screwing this up.
You knocked this out of the park.
First, the fans held cards that formed a red-white-and-blue U.S. motif that engulfed the stadium. Then, they switched sides of the cards for a black-and-gold “America Needs Farmers” panorama.
About 300 volunteers, from Iowa City West High School’s music organization and the UI Dance Marathon, earned their donations from JacobDavis Productions, who orchestrated the event. The Iowa students channeled their donation to the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, the volunteers taped down the cards to each of the seats. Because of strong winds Saturday, additional tape had to be used.
The cost was about $80,000.
2. What if I told you Northwestern QB Dan Persa completed a pass to Northwestern QB Kain Colter in this and the Hawkeyes still won?
From 2005 to 2012, the Wildcats really had the Hawkeyes pinned. Persa had a hand in the 2009 upset at Kinnick (not as much as Ricky Stanzi’s ankle exploding) and then directed an all-timer in 2010 that ended with Persa squeezing a TD pass just millimeters from Micah Hyde’s swiping hand.
On that play, Persa suffered a ruptured Achilles. He returned to Kinnick in 2011, but wasn’t himself.
Still, he made Iowa sweat this one out.
Back to 2005 and 2012 in this series. The Wildcats won six of eight during that stretch. Iowa’s lone victories over Northwestern were in 2007 and this one.
All it took was Tanner Miller’s 98-yard interception return to do it. I don’t know if he drinks beer, but you guys are failing if you let him buy one in Iowa City.
Miller had a huge hand in taking down Persa, who did kind of look like Harry Potter and was equally magical (you know, for Northwestern).
3. Kirk Ferentz did kind of say this once, that people should stop living in the past on Northwestern. He didn’t dwell on the point, because, you know, you don’t want to hear his problems, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
This isn’t the Northwestern that Iowa beat 21 straight seasons from 1974 to 1994.
Northwestern finally decided it wanted to have football. So did Wisconsin. So did Iowa State. Hayden Fry got fat on those programs. It obviously wouldn’t be that way today.
This isn’t something you want to hear, but since that 21-game winning streak, Northwestern leads the series 12-9.
Quote: “We just needed to win against anybody. We had to get back up on our feet. We didn’t do that last week (in a 13-3 loss to Penn State).” — Kirk Ferentz
Note: For what it’s worth, Persa was officially just 1-1 against Iowa. So was Colter. Why did it feel like a ton more? Because Iowa couldn’t swat those flies.
Why No. 64? — It was a night game. We’ve been over my note-taking during night games. They lack luster.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF THE GAME
Game story from 2011
IOWA CITY — The gauge for this game was the collective fuel tank of Iowa’s defense.
It ... went ... up. It ... went ... down. In the end, it ... had ... just ... enough.
After having been outscored in the fourth quarter, 23-0, during a three-game losing streak to Northwestern, the Iowa Hawkeyes saved their best in a 41-31 victory before 70,585 card-carrying fans Saturday night at Kinnick Stadium.
Iowa (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten) outscored Northwestern 24-14 in the fourth quarter and pulled away to snap the losing streak.
Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg threw two TD passes, running back Marcus Coker rushed for 124 yards and two TDs and Iowa’s defense, two starters and a few depth players down, kept it together with three sacks and eight tackles for a loss. It also gave up 495 yards on 92 plays.
Ugly numbers, but Iowa’s defense kept ... enough ... in ... the ... tank.
Middle linebacker James Morris (ankle) and defensive tackle Tom Nardo were out. So, there’s something to be said for keeping it together.
Afterward, Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz played down the significance of beating Northwestern (2-4, 0-3), although he jokingly asked if Dan Persa was a senior during the postgame interview.
“We just needed to win against anybody,” Ferentz said. “We had to get back up on our feet. We didn’t do that last week (in a 13-3 loss to Penn State).”
The Hawkeyes opened a 17-0 lead, only to see Northwestern come back to tie it early in the second half before the home team pulled away again.
“We have a lot to clean up,” Ferentz said. “A lot of things to improve on. We went with what we had. We were a little thin.”
Mike Meyer’s 27-yard field gave Iowa a 3-0 lead at 11:17 of the first quarter. After two failed drives, Northwestern got it going. Persa spurred the drive with a 32-yard pass to Kain Colter, the other running, jumping, throwing and diving quarterback. Eventually, the Cats got it to Iowa’s 7.
There, on first-and-goal, defensive end Broderick Binns got Persa’s feet. Tackle Steve Bigach, starting for Nardo, cleaned up Persa, who flicked a duck into the air.
Free safety Tanner Miller collected the fluttering pass, got a fantastic block by defensive end Dominic Alvis and took it 98 yards for a 10-0 Iowa lead with 4:08 left in the first.
Miller’s play tied Iowa’s record for an interception return, equaling a 98-yarder by cornerback Adam Shada against Purdue in ‘06.
Iowa took a 17-0 lead with 9:34 left in the first half on maybe its more impressive drive since Pittsburgh.
Vandenberg and wide receiver Keenan Davis victimized new cornerback Demetrius Dugar, who replaced Jeravin Matthews in the starting lineup. The first time, it was for 31 yards to Northwestern’s 47. The second time, it was on the next play, a 47-yard TD for the 17-point lead off a beautiful play-action fake.
It was Iowa’s second-longest offensive play of the season and its first offensive TD in five quarters. Davis now has four TDs in five games.
This is where the gas tank of Iowa’s defense came into play. It ... started ... to ... empty. Or at least it’s when Northwestern put together some monster drives and started to tap that tank.
Eleven plays, 65 yards and 5:50 put Northwestern on the board, with Persa’s 6-yard pass to Jeremy Ebert making it 17-7 at halftime.
At this point, Northwestern had 47 plays, Iowa 21. NU rushed for 100 yards, Iowa 55. Iowa 17 points, Northwestern 7.
The Cats took the opening possession of the second half 12 plays, 68 yards and 5:54 to pull within 17-14.
On NU’s next drive, Iowa’s defense held the Cats to Jeff Budzien’s 47-yard field goal to tie the game 17-17.
At this point, Northwestern converted 12 of 17 third downs. This is the number that fueled the Wildcats’ three-game winning streak over the Hawkeyes.
When it had to, Iowa’s offense kicked in during an 11-play, 64-yard and 5:24 drive. Coker ran nine times for 36 yards, including the 1-yard TD for a 24-17 Iowa lead with 13:55 left.
The gas tank filled ... just ... enough.