116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Three cool things
1. You guys have heard the story.
I'm a UNI graduate (1989, not really ever loyal anymore). This will be my 20th season covering Iowa football for The Gazette.
The fact that I went to UNI means nothing here. Been over the story. Did my important learning at Iowa in grad school. Still, when good things are happening for the Panthers, my thoughts drift to my UNI friends. Yeah, it's been a long time now and the connections fade.
I do have one great friend I keep in touch with. We've been going to Green Bay Packers games since 1992 (Brett Favre vs. the Rams was the first one, it was cold). We love football. He would've loved getting this one.
Frankly, in the press box, I sank in my chair a little.
Sure, I would've been able to say 'We beat Iowa.' That would've made 22-year-old me very, very happy. However old I was for this, I guess 43-ish, it wouldn't have been as cool.
You might've noticed, when college football teams lose, they are sometimes collectively grumpy and not great to deal with. This is human nature. You can't hold that against people.
So, my professional raft was going over the falls. I could feel that. Believe me, that is actually one of the hardest parts of this job. I'm not great at extracting contrition. And, frankly, I'm not sure a lot of you are looking for that. A lot of you like having Kirk Ferentz as your coach. You like what he stands for, you like that his players aren't barbarians (probably no more alcohol-related incidents for a while, huh?).
A certain percentage of you want your head coach to be hit with a chair in the postgame. That's cool. It sometimes gets to that.
It's just really difficult to extract that exact emotion from one of these things. That's probably a good thing. You don't want your team backing down from anything. Too much sorrow over a loss is exactly how your next loss begins.
College football is weird that way. One minute, you lose to UNI on a last-second field goal and the next your school is advertising next week's game.
You have to strive to be professional and fair. Even if that's your alma mater trying to make your professional life hell, professionalism will get you to the next week.
Another thing about this game? For me, it's football lightning striking. I know we've been over this, too, but the editors on this, night sports editor Sam Paxton and his assistant John Kerth, looked at my initial list and this is the one their eyes fell to.
Get that out of the top 20, they said. Almost in unison.
We didn't really argue. I just asked them to sell me on it. Their point: This is not a game Iowa fans behold (sorry, UNI fans, here comes the 'little brothering,' I'm sorry in advance). Iowa fans aren't holding this one up and wondering what it might look like in a frame. They're not.
Forget that it was UNI, an institution that is college home for a lot of people in the state. It was an FCS school. Iowa needed two blocked field goals at the end to beat the FCS school.
From my POV, I get stuck on the TWO BLOCKED FIELD GOALS TO WIN THE GAME. What are the odds of one? What are the odds of two?
Let's ask Ricky Stanzi. You know he knows.
'I feel like that'd be hitting green on roulette two times in a row, maybe,' Stanzi said. 'That's what I thought of right away. It's like hitting green twice in a row. That doesn't happen very often.'
Told you he'd know.
2. How did UNI take this? It's a fair question.
'It hurts a lot,' wide receiver Jared Herring said. 'A lot of people look at it as, 'Oh, we see where we're weak, and we see where we're better.' We're the type of team where we're the top of our division. We feel we should be beating these guys.'
'We didn't come out here to come close; we came out here to win,' defensive end Ben Boothby said. 'Everybody's always talking about Iowa, Iowa State, but seeing a game like this, we can play with anybody.'
UNI should've won this. It would've been a benchmark for the program. It didn't win.
'You tell them it hurts and it never goes away,' UNI head coach Mark Farley said. 'At the same time you're very proud of how they played. Because I felt they represented our program as well as any football team could represent our program.
'The attitude of any UNI football team ... I think it's pretty clear. I've told everybody a hundred times. The attitude of any UNI football team is that we can win any game on any field we step foot on.
'The irritation comes from the loss, knowing that we know we should have won that thing hands down.'
UNI should've won. It didn't.
3. Read the next Farley quote and don't freak out, if you're reading it from an Iowa perspective. This is the kind of statement that moves programs in college football. It's a statement that makes us all love the game and will have a lot of us in Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 15 at 6:30 p.m. (6:30!!!).
'It's not a matter of if UNI will beat Iowa,' Farley said. 'It's a matter of when it's going to happen. It should have happened today and we didn't make the play at the end.'
It's OK for Iowa to schedule FCS programs again. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany backed off that last year. So, you'll probably see UNI once every three or four years. I do believe if Iowa plays an FCS school, it should be UNI. We're getting away from inherent neighborliness in this state. Let's not do that.
Quote: Seven-minute delay to figure out the rule on the first blocked FG. But I do want to go out of my way to commend the crew for getting it right. That's all you can ask. How long did those seven minutes feel, Hawkeye fans?
'I noticed he was kicking really low. I told the defensive linemen to get their hands up because this is our season.' — Linebacker Jeremiha Hunter, who then quickly corrected himself.
'Well, not our season, but this is a big game we need to win.'
He might have been right the first time.
Note: 'I'm not necessarily satisfied, but I'm not terrified with how we played.' — linebacker Pat Angerer, kind of nailing this one
Why No. 23? — For people who dig football weirdness, you'll never forget this one. Stone-cold Hawkeye fans won't even open the recycling bin if they know this is in the can.
IOWA CITY — This was passing an Appalachian State-sized kidney stone.
That's really the only point of reference you need. Of course, you remember Appalachian State going up to the Big House and upsetting Michigan to open the 2007 season.
The FCS school upsetting the Big Ten BCS bully. A national noisemaker on week 1.
'It was a little Appalachian State-ish,' Iowa linebacker A.J. Edds said.
It was an FCS-sized kidney stone for the Hawkeyes. They passed it, painfully and ever so closely, 17-16, before 70,585 shocked fans Saturday at Kinnick Stadium.
Iowa defensive end Broderick Binns blocked Billy Hallgren's first 40-yard field goal attempt with seven seconds left. After a seven-minute review and with one second left on the clock, linebacker Jeremiha Hunter reached up with his right hand and smacked down Hallgren's second chance and the No. 22 Hawkeyes (1-0) escaped FCS No. 4 Northern Iowa (0-1).
What's the real-life equivalent of back-to-back blocked field goals?
'I feel like that'd be hitting green on roulette two times in a row, maybe,' said Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi, whose 6-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tony Moeaki with 13:18 left in the fourth quarter proved to be the game-winner. 'That's what I thought of right away. It's like hitting green twice in a row.'
That doesn't happen very often.'
Lightning striking twice, lottery numbers, whatever one-in-a-million cliche you want.
'I doubt there's a person in the stadium who's ever seen anything like that on TV or in person,' Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. 'It's just a bizarre deal and we're very fortunate.'
On the other sideline, UNI Coach Mark Farley was Hunter's right hand away from slaying the state's football giant.
'We wanted to win the line of scrimmage and we did that, we wanted to play 11 guys and have them beat the person across from them and we did that, and above all else, we said play with class and pride and they did that beyond words,' Farley said. 'So that's why it's painful to lose this game, because they did everything we asked them to do.'
The Panthers claimed every meaningful statistic, outgaining Iowa (354-329), time of possession (31:56 to 27:59) and held Iowa to 87 rushing yards, a number helped by four sacks.
UNI quarterback Pat Grace outplayed Stanzi. Grace led a 91-yard TD drive in the first half that pushed the Panthers to a 10-3 halftime lead. He put UNI in position to win it, moving from UNI's 8 to Iowa's 24 in the final 2:14.
Grace finished 23 of 37 for 270 yards and a TD. Stanzi completed 22 of 34 for 242 yards, a fumble and a TD pass.
Behind a makeshift O-line without tackle Kyle Calloway and guard Julian Vandervelde, the running game never showed and Stanzi was sacked four times. Two fumbles led to two Hallgren field goals.
The Panthers accounted for everything except double green in roulette, which came in the form of Hunter's right hand.
'We weren't even lined up the way we were supposed to be lined up,' Hunter said. 'I noticed he was kicking really low. I told the defensive linemen to get their hands up because this is our season.'
Hunter then quickly corrected himself.
'Well, not our season, but this is a big game we need to win.'
He might have been right the first time.
The explanation for the second field goal attempt has some twists and turns.
The officials needed seven minutes to decipher it, but both coaches said they were satisfied with the explanation.
First, the Panthers (0-1) attempted field goal No. 1 on first down. Second, the ball didn't cross the 3-yard neutral zone along the line of scrimmage, so it was live and UNI didn't surrender possession.
The ball is dead if it crosses that neutral zone. Iowa players are coached to stay far, far away from a blocked field goal.
'The rule book is this thick,' said Edds, holding his hands a foot apart. 'You have to be a theologian to figure it out.'
Hunter could have recovered and the game would have been over. Safety Tyler Sash had a shot. The Hawkeyes had it surrounded. UNI tight end Ryan Mahaffey pounced on it and, by rule, the clock stops when the offense regains possession.
The video officials reviewed whether the ball crossed the line of scrimmage and how much time was left on the clock.
Then Hunter's right hand tagged the ball. This time, linebacker Pat Angerer covered it up with both arms.
'I was just having a hard time believing that (the first block) took only seven seconds,' Ferentz said. 'It seemed like it was about five minutes.
'It's kind of like when you're in a car accident. It just goes in slow motion.'
It was kind of like a car accident. The air bags worked.