Three cool things:
1. One weird, quick story from this game: If you fervently follow Iowa Twitter, you might remember that, yes, in this final scorebook, there was one series late where it looked like Iowa punted on third down.
I can’t remember the exact play the play-by-play was missing, but there was a drive in the second half that listed Iowa as punting on third down. First and second downs were Marcus Coker runs. And then punt.
Weird story twist: I missed the series in question because I got on the elevator in the Purdue press box and it stalled. Doors wouldn’t open. All the greatest deadline fears flashed before my eyes.
It was quickly fixed, but I did miss that series. So, when I got to the play-by-play, I didn’t know what to think with the three-down drive. Well, it was wrong and simply missed a play, whatever it was that happened on that third down.
Iowa was winning, so I’m guessing inside zone for loss of 1 or something.
Punting on third down is a bad mistake to make on an Iowa play sheet. People might actually believe that. Iowa and punting is nothing to joke about.
2. Another little side story: You guys don’t get the up-close time I get with the program. Not that it’s anything great. The battle lines were drawn as far as media goes with Kirk Ferentz. At this point, for me, it’s whatever.
That doesn’t mean I don’t connect with a lot of the people around the program. One of my favorites was Matt Engelbert. He was the video coordinator for the Hawkeyes for a long, long time. He was in Bret Bielema’s wedding. So, when Bielema hit the road for Arkansas, he hired Matt as his video coordinator. Well, it didn’t work out for Bret. Matt eventually landed at Ole Miss as the coordinator of video services.
I had a lot of pregame convos with Matt. It wasn’t always Hawkeyes. We’re both huge Cubs fans. He had faith where I had cynicism. Hey, didn’t see that coming, didja?
I think I mentioned to Matt before this one how I’d never seen a “coaches film,” you know, football games from teaching angles. When I showed up the next Tuesday, he handed me a disc with coaches film. I still have it. I’d probably pay $1,000 a year for coaches film of Iowa, in case anyone has that entrepreneurial spirit.
3. I have a bottom four Big Ten coaches in my 20 years of covering the league. Oh yeah, Danny Hope is on that list, with Tim Brewster, Tim Beckman and Darrell Hazell.
That’s how a sinkhole happens in your end zone.
Quote: “That’s why I came here, the respect of the defense and the type of hard-nosed play.” — defensive tackle Mike Daniels,
Note: In basically a season and a half at Iowa, Marcus Coker had nine 100-yard games. This was his last as a Hawkeye.
Why No. 97? — If I have a win over a Danny Hope team higher than this, apologies.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF THE GAME
Game story from 2011
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Iowa Hawkeyes were clearly the better team. It just took them awhile to figure it out.
Part of the path to that enlightenment included a dropped touchdown pass by senior wide receiver Marvin McNutt. Yes, the same Marvin McNutt who owns nearly every wide receiver record the University of Iowa can invent.
”I was pissed off,” McNutt said.
So were the Hawkeyes, who really sort of kind of dominated Purdue but not really, 31-21, before 40,106 fans Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium.
There was the dropped TD. Also in the second quarter, Iowa had first downs from Purdue’s 36, 9 and 49 and scored zero points. The closest the Hawkeyes came was when Mike Meyer clanged a 34-yard field goal off the right upright.
Iowa was the better team, it just took it awhile to decide where it wanted to go with this.
“There wasn’t a lot of good that happened,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We moved the ball, but we didn’t finish drives. Just a lot of crazy things, but we survived it.”
And there’s your theme for the season. The Hawkeyes have been in survival mode since the unsettling upset Oct. 29 at Minnesota. They survived a goal-line stand against Michigan. They were mangled by Michigan State.
They pushed through the weirdness, which included some anger from Purdue and Coach Danny Hope at the end of the game, and snapped a five-game road losing streak in the regular season.
Running back Marcus Coker rushed 30 times for 139 yards and a TD.
Quarterback James Vandenberg threw three TD passes and has 23 this season, fourth on Iowa’s season list. McNutt more than made up for his drop with nine catches for 151 yards and two TDs, including a 51-yarder early in the fourth quarter that sealed it.
The Hawkeyes’ defense sacked Purdue quarterbacks Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve five times, the most for the Hawkeyes in a game since five against Minnesota in 2009.
“That’s why I came here, the respect of the defense and the type of hard-nosed play,” said defensive tackle Mike Daniels, who had two sacks, four tackles for loss and led Iowa with eight tackles. “It’s something we’ve constantly worked on this year.”
Iowa’s defense equaled its high for tackles for loss this season (eight) and held Purdue to 282 yards total offense, the lowest against the Hawkeyes this season.
“They do a fantastic job of getting off blocks,” Hope said. “We knew that all week long and I think that showed up some today.”
Purdue had a chance to crawl within 31-28 with 1:27 left, but Marve fumbled out of the end zone right at the pylon, giving Iowa the ball on a touchback. The play was initially ruled a TD, but review overturned it.
“One thing about us this year, we’ve been fairly resilient,” Ferentz said.
Iowa’s second-quarter ennui allowed the Boilermakers to tie the game. After the first of free safety Tanner Miller’s interceptions set up the Hawkeyes at their 1, Vandenberg fumbled on a sack and Purdue’s Brandon Taylor recovered for a TD, pulling the Boilers to 14-14 with 4:49 left.
Then Iowa snapped out of it. Vandenberg found tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz for a 5-yard TD and Iowa wasn’t seriously threatened again.
“They gave it to us, we gave it to them,” said Vandenberg, who completed 22 of 32 for 273 yards, three TDs and no picks. “They gave us points, we gave them points. We’ve got to limit those mistakes, but we did a good job fighting through that and putting a drive together at the end of the half.”
It was another game for the Hawkeyes and another record for McNutt. His two TDs give him 12 this season, breaking the Iowa season record of 11, set by Mo Brown in 2002. Still, as he took his spot in a mosh pit of a postgame, the drop was the first thing McNutt talked about.
“That’s a touchdown,” said McNutt, who needs 11 receptions in Iowa’s final two games to tie the career record (173). “We don’t drop touchdowns.”
It happened and it was that kind of weird-energy day. It was so gray Saturday, it looked as if the game were lit by a 40-watt bulb.
The Hawkeyes are 7-4 heading into the season finale at Nebraska. They probably can lose the numbers for the Ticket City and Little Caesars Bowl reps and maybe check into something Florida (Gator).