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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 2004 D-linemen put their hands up and danced

No. 16 Iowa 17, Iowa State 10 | Sept. 11, 2004

Iowa's Clinton Solomon (88), Jovon Johnson (26), and George Lewis (50) celebrate with the Cy-Hawk Trophy following their win over Iowa State on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2004 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. (The Gazette)
Iowa's Clinton Solomon (88), Jovon Johnson (26), and George Lewis (50) celebrate with the Cy-Hawk Trophy following their win over Iowa State on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2004 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. (The Gazette)

Three cool things:

1. The Matt Roth “Brushin’ Off the Haters” sack dance was mentioned here a few days ago.

That 2004 defensive line was so good. 2004 and 2009 are 1A and 1B when it comes to Iowa’s best defensive lines under Kirk Ferentz.

The 2004 team was so good, I had the totally bad idea to ask them about sack dances. I can’t believe they answered. (See feature story below)

2. Another nice, little offseason project for me (next offseason) would be compiling top 10 lists in Iowa history. Rushers, passers, receivers, all of that sort of thing.

Iowa has had some pretty awesome pass rushers in the Ferentz era. Unfortunately, the Iowa media guide only gets into sack leaders for game, season and career.

It’s hard to get on this list. Leroy Smith, all 6-foot-2-ish and 220 pounds of him, holds the record for sacks in a game (5) and season (18). Jared DeVries is the career leader with 43. You have to do some clicking and some math, but case of beer for the person who delivers a bona fide Iowa top 10 for sacks.

3. This was an Iowa State team that finished 7-5 and beat Miami (Ohio) in the Independence Bowl.

You recognize some of those names — WR Todd Blythe, LB Tim Dobbins and DB Ellis Hobbs.

Ferentz has played two teams — Iowa State and Minnesota — in every one of his 19 seasons at Iowa.

After 15 straight losses to Iowa, Iowa State said enough and put money and resources into its football program. You can debate how even the programs are. I think facilities, cash and TV, Iowa probably has a little financial advantage.

On the field? Ferentz lost his first four games against Iowa State. After winning the last three, Ferentz has a winning record against ISU for the first time at 10-9.

Ferentz is 13-6 against the Gophers, after losing the first two meetings of his tenure.

Quote: Tyler Luebke is a redhead. So ...

“Well, either I’m blushing or I’m just hot. I don’t want to take credit. We just came together when we had to.”

Note: Iowa State has had four coaches during Ferentz’s tenure — Dan McCarney, Gene Chizik, Paul Rhoads and Matt Campbell.

Why No. 78? — I remember this being a really sunny, hot game. As a Packers fan, I prefer cold weather. It’s tough to sit through 17-10 when you’re sticking to the bleachers.


Game story from 2004

IOWA CITY — Scrappy, stubby, stumpy, it was a Tyler Luebke kind of game.

Iowa’s 6-foot-1, 278-pound defensive lineman seemed to show up whenever the Hawkeyes needed him the most against equally scrappy, stubby, stumpy Iowa State. The No. 16 Hawkeyes (2-0) had just a little more Luebke in them, holding off the Cyclones (1-1), 17-10, before 70,397 fans Saturday at Kinnick Stadium.

Wide receiver Ed Hinkel scored on a spectacular 29-yard catch, and Iowa’s defense stopped the Cyclones on a fourth-and-3 with 1:09 left to snap ISU’s three-game winning streak at Kinnick.

The Hawkeyes and Cyclones went stub to stub. For every Luebke the Hawkeyes had, the Cyclones threw in a Cale Stubbe, a senior offensive tackle. For every Hinkel, the Cyclones had an Ellis Hobbs. On and on, ISU matched Iowa, until the last delicious drop.

“We heard the 25-point favorite thing,” Iowa quarterback Drew Tate said. “But we never believed it. We knew it was going to be a war.”

The Hawkeyes got plays, big and small, from the supporting cast. Same for the Cyclones, whose unheralded defense held Iowa to minus-2 yards in the third quarter.

It came down to Luebke and linebacker Abdul Hodge stopping Iowa State quarterback Bret Meyer on a fourth-and-3 at Iowa’s 34-yard line with 1:09 left in the game.

“Intense, down-to-the-wire, four quarters of battling,” defensive end Matt Roth said. “This was a good game. And they are a good team.”

When this kind of game comes to super-steely gut-check time, you can check your pedigree at the door. And that’s fine by Luebke, an all-state swimmer at Iowa City West, former walk-on and now blushing star of the Cy-Hawk game.

“Well, either I’m blushing or I’m just hot,” said Luebke, who had seven tackles and consistently disrupted up front. “I don’t want to take credit. We just came together when we had to.”

Iowa’s offense never came together, gaining 305 yards and hopping off the tracks completely in the third quarter. The Cyclones’ defense battered the Hawkeyes during a three-series stretch in the third that nearly turned the game in ISU’s favor.

Iowa was held to drives that netted minus-4, minus-18 and minus-17. Hobbs and end Tyson Smith sacked Tate twice during the minus-18 flameout.

Quarterback Austin Flynn, who switched in and out with Meyer, finally turned that field position into gold when he hit wide receiver Todd Blythe for a 40-yard touchdown with 36 seconds left in the third.

Both teams needed everything from everybody, regardless of pedigree.

The Cyclones got production out of linebacker Tim Dobbins, a juco transfer who shares his No. 44 jersey number with a sophomore fullback. They got high-caliber from linebacker Erik Anderson, who didn’t make the 105-man roster when he arrived at ISU in 2001.

And they got big plays, all-Big 12-type plays, from Blythe, a redshirt freshman playing his second game.

Iowa State Coach Dan McCarney got every drop of everything from his team. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Cyclones, picked last in the Big 12 North, trailed No. 16 Iowa, 17-10. This is where you might need reminding that the Hawkeyes were 24-point favorites.

“It was just coming off the ball and smashing,” Hobbs said. “Knowing they were going to hit us in the mouth, we had to hit back harder.”

Smashing and mouth-hitting plays right into the hands of Iowa’s defense, which muffled the Cyclones on third down, holding them to a brutal 2-for-16.

The Cyclones had three drives to tie the game. Drive No. 1, they missed a field goal. (Walk-on Brian Jansen, ISU’s No. 3 kicker, missed field goals of 30, 46 and 31 yards, an obvious and crushing stat in a seven-point game.)

Drive No. 2, Flynn got knocked out and out of the game.

“When he got up, he looked a little out of it,” Luebke said. “It was obvious right away what was going on with him.”

And drive No. 3, finally, Luebke and Hodge stopped Meyer on fourth down. Roth flushed Meyer into Luebke and Hodge. Meyer ended 2 yards short.

“Everybody was just yelling gut-check,” Greenway said. “This was major gut-check time. We like having the game in our hands like that. We’re comfortable with that.”

The trickle of dried blood coming out of Roth’s nose said it all. The Cyclones put the Hawkeyes to the test, a pop quiz, midterm and final.

“In that third quarter, we missed a couple things that got us into big trouble,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “The good thing is the game could’ve gotten away at that point. It could’ve, but it didn’t.”

The Hawkeyes didn’t do a lot of hooting and hollering with the Cy-Hawk Trophy. It was quickly shuttled out of Kinnick by defensive back Jovon Johnson and linebacker George Lewis.

If anything, the Cyclones showed the Hawkeyes who they are, a team with a take-no-prisoners defense and an offense that’s hopping around on one leg.

Iowa’s offense had to scrape for every blade of grass gained. The Hawkeyes needed superb playmaking to score both TDs. During Iowa’s opening drive, Tate scrambled on a third-and-5 and hit running back Jermelle Lewis for a 25-yard gain to ISU’s 3.

Redshirt freshman Albert Young, who later left the game with a serious knee injury, scored from the 1. With 2:49 left in the second quarter, Tate lofted a third-down pass toward junior wideout Ed Hinkel, who did his best Spider-Man to come up with a 29-yard TD and a 14-3 Iowa lead at halftime.

All it took for Iowa to beat Iowa State was one of the best clutch catches seen at Kinnick in years.

There wasn’t much difference between Iowa’s Luebkes and Iowa State’s Stubbes. And when you’re matching Luebkes and Stubbes, you need the best clutch catch you might see all year.

D-line feature from 2004

Hawkeye front four enjoying the victory dance

CHICAGO — They don’t have a nickname. Yet their play, their production, their popularity begs for a nickname.

So let’s try “Dance Fever” for Iowa’s defensive front four. These four seniors are just waiting to bust a quarterback and then bust a move.

“If things are spontaneous and not contrived, then OK,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said at Thursday’s Big Ten meetings. “You want your guys to enjoy playing. You want them to enjoy the good things that happen on the field.

“Of course, I’d rather have our team have the results draw attention to it, rather than some actions.”

Of course, the coach is going to say that.

Iowa’s defensive line — ends Matt Roth and Derreck Robinson and tackles Jonathan Babineaux and Tyler Luebke — has shown it can justify a shimmy here and a shake there.

Last season, the Hawkeyes led the Big Ten in scoring defense, allowing 16.2 points a game. The Hawkeyes finished second in rush defense with 92.7 yards a game. Iowa led the Big Ten in red-zone defense, allowing opponents to score 62.5 percent of the time inside Iowa’s 20-yard line.

Iowa’s defensive line also helped keep blockers off linebackers Abdul Hodge and Chad Greenway, who finished among Big Ten leaders in tackles. Roth finished second in the Big Ten with 12 sacks, but he led the league in sack dances.

There was “Dusting off the haters,” a move that enlisted the help of linebacker Chad Greenway, who gave Roth a big shove at the end. There was the “Gator Chomp,” which Roth stuck on the Florida Gators during the Hawkeyes’ 37-17 victory in the Outback Bowl.

“It’s mainly joking around, having fun,” said Roth, a senior with 22 career sacks. “You get really excited and it just comes out. Luckily, I haven’t had any penalties.”

The rest of the front four isn’t as, um, outgoing as Roth.

Babineaux, a senior, admitted at the Big Ten media day Thursday that he’s a man of few words.

“Yeah, I’m a low-key guy,” said Babineaux, who’s full strength after a broken leg sidelined him for Iowa’s final six games last year. “The rest of us are going to have to work on it.”

Roth, the king of the dance, has plenty of tips for his linemates.

For Babineaux: “He’s got to use his rhythm, he’s got good rhythm.”

For Robinson, a Golden Gloves boxer in his home state of Minnesota: “He’s a Golden Gloves, he’s got that boxing going for him. He can throw a couple punches.”

For Luebke, a record-setting swimmer as a prep at Iowa City West: “He can do the backstroke. I’ve seen Luebke. He can cut a rug.”

Of course, Roth can joke about this stuff. All four are pals, on and off the field.

“We’ve been together two or three years now, (so) we can joke around with each other,” Roth said. “We do a good job with pranks and teasing. We have a lot of fun.”

He paused and then finished the bit.

“They’ve got moves,” he said. “They’ve just got to practice. It doesn’t come naturally. You’ve got to practice those moves.”

They’re seniors. They’re all 22 or 23 years old. And they all took some time to find their way at Iowa.

Roth started as a linebacker. Babineaux played fullback as a freshman before a broken leg ended his season. Robinson has put underclassman disciplinary problems behind him. Luebke began as a walk-on.

“We’re not the biggest group,” Babineaux said. “Matt brings quickness, energy, aggressiveness. Tyler is more like a pound-for-pound strong guy. I’m more of a pound-for-pound guy, a speed guy. Derreck is more like everything.

“As long as we’re aggressive and we’re getting the job done, it doesn’t matter what size or shape you come in.”

They also spent their first two or three years at Iowa getting their shoulder pads handed to them by a dominant offensive line that included NFL draft picks Robert Gallery, Eric Steinbach and Bruce Nelson.

“When I first started, I got thrown into the mix,” Roth said. “I got double-teamed by Steinbach and Gallery. I think even (Colts tight end Dallas) Clark jumped in and drilled me. I jumped straight up out of my stance like a deer caught in the headlights.”

Babineaux played end when he moved to defense. His first lessons came against gargantuan tackles Gallery and David Porter.

“I think both of them helped me come along,” said Babineaux, who collected seven sacks as a sophomore. “They showed me a couple things I was doing wrong. I helped them with a couple things once I got some experience and felt like I could tell them stuff.”

Ferentz wants, and Iowa needs, that same principle to work for the reserve D-linemen.

Four redshirt freshmen — ends Bryan Mattison and Kenny Iwebema and tackles George Eshareturi and Alex Willcox — are listed as backups on the two-deep. Iowa rotates as many as eight defensive linemen, so the freshmen will play.

“They need to show they’re worthy and deserving of playing time,” Ferentz said. “We need to get them out there on the field, so that a year from now they’re not out there wide-eyed.”

And, of course, this is their last season to take dance lessons from Roth and the rest of “Dance Fever.”