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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.


The games where the opponent runs 150 plays, Iowa gets 3 and still wins

Iowa 38, Indiana 21 | Oct. 15, 2005

Iowa's Clinton Solomon tries to pull in a pass against Indiana's Tracy Porter during the second half of a  game at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2005, in Iowa City. (The Gazette)
Iowa's Clinton Solomon tries to pull in a pass against Indiana's Tracy Porter during the second half of a game at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2005, in Iowa City. (The Gazette)

Three cool things:

1. It’s always interesting when Iowa’s prostyle offense with its deliberate tempo runs up against an all-out spread.

The contrast teases your heads a little bit. You see all of those wonder yards and pass plays that move with ease. You see that offense and you want it for your Hawkeyes. It’s just the simple “Hey, why don’t we do that?” kind of reaction.

So, every once in a while, you’ll have a game where Iowa is like Jabba the Hut playing against Cirque de Soleil.

You run around Jabba for three quarters. You get your yards, but are you getting the points? No? And then Jabba gets ahold of your foot and eventually gets around to flattening you. You also could use The Mountain vs. The Viper from “Game of Thrones.” The Viper did everything but finish The Mountain. And then he got too close and literally got his head crushed.

Iowa had a whole bunch of these games in the mid-2000s. I didn’t care a ton about how many plays were run in a game until it became so imbalanced.

It was pretty obvious after this one. I mean, the first thing Drew Tate wanted to know was what time it was.

2. You should know Clinton Solomon’s story. He’s a top-10 receiver in Iowa history. When you see his numbers in the back of the Iowa media guide, they come listed with the years “2002, 2004-05.”

Solomon was a true freshman on the 2002 team. He got caught up in that and his academics suffered. He had to leave Iowa and get his grades straight at Iowa Central in Fort Dodge.

Think about that. The Fort Worth, Texas, native moved to Iowa City to play football and then had to move to Fort Dodge to do school. That is a road. Solomon ended up on that road because he neglected school, but he went away for a year and then went back.

That never happens.

(Feature story in the section below)

3. I hope Adam Shada has peace in his life. He was an academic dynamo and headed for big things. I hope that’s where it all went for him and I’m sure it did.

Quote: You guys, FYI: When Kinnick goes quiet, it’s awful for the home team. Usually, the home team has done something to bring that upon itself, but quiet Kinnick is way too easy for opponents to get comfortable. And if you’re still having the “sit down” conversation with your neighbor, you are the problem.

“We lost our crowd. We lost our advantage with the crowd. But the bottom line is, when they closed the gap to three, our guys had the proper response.” — Kirk Ferentz

Note: There are way more of these than I wanted, but RIP James Hardy. He owned Iowa. I think it more made you guys want a player like James Hardy and not resentment because James Hardy ate your lunch.

Why No. 99? — I’d love for Iowa and Indiana to meet with a Rose Bowl on the line. The only people that would hate that is Fox. That wouldn’t be a ratings bonanza Big Ten title game, I know. It’s also one that will never happen.

But at some point, you’re going to get sick of the same three or four teams showing up and you’re going to turn it off.


Game story from 2005

IOWA CITY — Drew Tate wanted to know what time it was.

“It’s 3:30,” he was told.

“Long game,” he said.

“Yeah, they ran 101 plays on offense,” a reporter said.

“That’s how many they had?” Tate asked. “I knew it was a lot.”

Maybe Tate had a date. But two fourth-quarter touchdowns kept the Big Ten equilibrium in balance — at least at Kinnick Stadium — with the Hawkeyes cutting down the Hoosiers, 38-21, Saturday before 70,585 fans.

Tate completed 12 of 24 for 265 yards and two touchdowns and running back Albert Young rushed for 125 yards and two scores to lead the Hawkeyes (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten) to their 22nd straight victory at Kinnick.

It got tense early in the fourth quarter. Indiana (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten) pulled within 24-21 on quarterback Blake Powers’ 6-yard TD pass to wideout James Bailey. But after pretty much punching out in the third quarter, Iowa’s offense punched back in with two determined TD drives that finally put away the Hoosiers.

Powers completed a stadium-record 37 passes on 57 attempts for 360 yards, two TDs and an interception. Freshman wideout James Hardy became the first receiver in Indiana history to record 10 or more catches in back-to-back games with 12 receptions for 203 yards and a score.

“We thought it was going to be a 60-minute, 15-rounder here today,” first-year Indiana Coach Terry Hoeppner said.

Try a 101-play, 15-rounder with the Hoosiers landing most of the punches. The third quarter started about as well as it could for the Hawkeyes, who lost the time of possession battle, 40:09 to 19:51. Iowa’s defense put a three-and-out on the Hoosiers, and it took just two plays for Tate to find a wide-open Clinton Solomon for a 42-yard TD and a 24-7 lead with 12:54 left in the third quarter.

Indiana answered with what only can be described as an amazingly stupendous 18-play, 94-yard drive that took nearly eight minutes. Powers capped it with a 1-yard pitch to Hardy, who made a juggling catch after backup cornerback Adam Shada, in for injured senior Antwan Allen, made a great read on a slant and tipped the ball.

The Hoosiers converted five third downs to fuel the drive, which was IU’s longest in plays, yards and time of possession this season.

“We lost our crowd,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We lost our advantage with the crowd. But the bottom line is, when they closed the gap to three, our guys had the proper response.”

The next sequences went like October weather in Iowa. Just wait a few minutes and it’ll change.

Iowa running back Damian Sims fumbled the kickoff. Indiana recovered at Iowa’s 23. Next play, Shada picked it off in the end zone in front of Hardy. The Hawkeyes had the ball 2:23 in the third quarter.

“The third quarter didn’t go exactly to script,” Ferentz said. “It was a strange quarter.”

It was a strange game.

With 12:50 left, Powers hit a wide-open Hardy on a naked bootleg for a 66-yard gain to Iowa’s 14. Seven plays later, Powers hit Bailey and the game was on with Iowa clinging to a 24-21 lead with 9:51 left.

“I don’t think we got too relaxed over there on the sidelines,” said Solomon, who caught three passes for 79 yards and a TD. “But that was a long time to be sitting. Maybe that got us focused or maybe we just wanted to get out there and show something.”

Iowa’s offense responded as if the third-quarter funk never happened.

Tate hit tight end Scott Chandler for a 37-yard gain to IU’s 41. Two plays later, Young scored on a 26-yard run, giving Iowa a 31-21 lead with 8:02 left.

After the Hawkeyes held IU to a three-and-out, Iowa rode five running plays to Sims’ 30-yard TD run for a 38-21 lead with 4:18 left.

“We finally got the ball there in the fourth quarter,” Tate said. “We’d seen enough. We wanted to put a drive together.”

By the end of the day, Iowa had seen more than enough of Powers, Hardy and Hoeppner’s version of the spread offense. The Hoosiers ran 101 plays to Iowa’s 57.

Powers had as many pass attempts (57) as Iowa had plays. Powers had more completions (37) than Tate had attempts. In the second half, Indiana held the ball for 21:43 compared to Iowa’s 8:17.

“101 plays? You’ve got to be kidding me,” Hoeppner said. “We just gave up too many big plays and didn’t take advantage of some of the opportunities that we had.”

Tate probably still made his date, dinner with his family or whatever college kids do at 3:30 in the afternoon these days. But 101 plays is going to cut into someone’s free time.

“This was just like high school for a lot of us,” said cornerback Jovon Johnson, who racked up a career-high 17 tackles and broke up a pair of passes. “You go both ways in high school and play 100 plays. It’s a little different now. I’m sure we’ll all be feeling it tomorrow.”

The defense will feel it. A 101-play film session has to take a toll on one’s backside.

Clinton Solomon feature from 2005

Solomon a changed man

TAMPA, Fla. — It’s probably safe to say that we won’t see another Clinton Solomon come this way anytime soon.

He’s done some nice things on the field — a top 10 receiver in Iowa history — but that’s not why we’ll remember him.

We might never see another Iowa football player grow from a goofy, gangly teenager into a man the way Solomon has in his four years at Iowa.

Our first glimpse of Solomon came in 2002. He was a true freshman wide receiver starting for a team headed to the Orange Bowl and an undefeated Big Ten championship season. He caught 14 passes, including a 6-yard touchdown in the season finale against Minnesota.

Monday at Jefferson High School in Tampa, he remembered celebrating that TD as if it was the TD of all TDs.

“The difference between that kid and the one standing in front of you is maturity,” Solomon said. “That’s all it is, maturity and a different number (Solomon wore No. 3 his freshman year and wears No. 88 now).

“Clinton Solomon is always going to be Clinton Solomon. I’m always going to smile and have fun. I’m a kid at heart, but I also know that I’m a man now. I’ve got a lot of maturity, on the field and, more importantly, in the classroom. I’ve made a big turnaround there.”

Solomon is a senior at Iowa, but this is just his third season in uniform. His career took a detour in 2003, when he was ruled academically ineligible during the summer semester after his freshman year. He flunked out of school and ended up trying to work his way back at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge.

He’s the only player during Kirk Ferentz’s seven seasons who left Iowa, went to a junior college and then came back to Iowa City. This is a rare journey in college football.

Once kids fall out, they go juco and then, nine times out of 10, transfer to another school, looking for a fresh start somewhere else.

“When I was in juco, I had a lot of time alone at night and I just sat there thinking, `What do you want to do?’” said Solomon, a 6-foot-3, 196-pounder from Fort Worth, Texas. “Do you want to go home and call it quits? Do you want to get a 9-to-5 job working seven days a week, getting minimum wage? Or do you want to get a degree at a Division I school and have at least a chance at playing at the next level and make some decent money?’

“It’s been a long journey, from my freshman year to my senior year. I was lucky enough to get a second chance and I’ve tried to make the most of it.”

Solomon knows all about second chances. He admits he’s never had a father figure in his life. His father has been in Robertson Prison in Abilene, Texas, for 13 years, since Solomon was 9.

Solomon admits some hard feelings will flash once in a while. But he’s forgiven his father, who, Solomon said, has earned his GED and a college degree since going to prison for dealing drugs.

“I’m not mad at him, because the things he did, he did for me and my mom,” Solomon said. “They weren’t right, but he was trying to support his family the best way he thought he could.”

Solomon said his father is hoping for parole this coming year. If he doesn’t get it, he could be facing two or three more years. His father has written him as many as three times a month and has sent birthday and Christmas cards since he went away.

Solomon visited Abilene at the end of the summer, but hasn’t tried to make contact lately because “I don’t have much to say right now.”

“I miss him a lot,” Solomon said. “I had a lot of anger for him at the beginning of the season last year, because I felt like I needed to talk to him about some things and he wasn’t there. I can’t stay mad at him.”

The advice on forgiveness came from his mother, Robin, and her father, William Wise, the one man he had in his life. Wise died in October. Solomon honors him with “Papa” written in black marker on his wristbands.

“Before he passed away, my granddad told me, `You can’t get mad at your father. He did what he could for you and your mom. He got caught up in the wrong things,’” Solomon said. “My granddad was right.”

Solomon is the man of the house now, a duty he doesn’t take lightly. Joshua, Solomon’s 14-year-old brother, is a high school freshman and plays football. Solomon tells him to tend to his studies.

“I tell him that he’s got a lot of growing up to do,” Solomon said. “I’m going to do my best to support him and guide him the right way. He has a father and he’s doing what he can for him. But it’s just him and my mom and our little sister, he’s got to be the man around the house and take care of them.

“I’ll be there for him when he needs me. Hopefully, that’ll help him be comfortable and take care of the house when I’m gone.”

Solomon has it all mapped out. He plans to graduate in May, and if he doesn’t graduate in May, he’s coming back for the summer semester to finish his degree in African-American studies.

“I’m going to get that piece of paper,” he said.

He’s going to give professional football his best shot. He’ll play in the Hula Bowl in January. He plans to go to the NFL combine in February.

If football falls out, he wants to go into real estate in Texas. He wants to work with kids in some way, shape or form.

He came to Iowa a kid who goofed around too much. Solomon is leaving as a man with a plan.