116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Three cool things
1. Kicker Nate Kaeding literally skipped from midfield to the east end zone, where about 4,000 Iowa supporters waited. The fellas were sprinting behind him.
Iowa celebrates every road win. It doesn't matter what program. It's one of the unheralded traditions of the Kirk Ferentz era.
The clock winds down, and the Hawkeyes start scouting for the corner of the stadium where their fans have collected. Sometimes it's two corners. One thing that is for sure, there's always at least one quarter that's all yellow or black. Even at Rutgers in 2016. Yeah, even in Jersey.
They find you, they blurt out a superfast kind of punk version of the school fight song and you guys seem to really dig it. Personally, I think it's a cool tribute from the team to you. It's connectivity. It's acknowledgment. Yeah, they say they don't listen to the outside, but that doesn't mean they don't appreciate your support.
And, really, they do appreciate when you guys hit the road with them. They know it takes some effort to pull this off. Their parents are all doing it, too.
This is when that tradition was starting to form.
The Hawkeyes had just done this in 2002 at Penn State. They formed the procession line and slapped the hands of their fans in the front row.
This went beyond that.
Of course, it helped that the Hawkeyes cleared the Big House. That was a lot of aluminum bleacher for ...
The school fight song echoed through Michigan Stadium like an angry Neil Young song. Sometimes, the guitar makes the point better than the song. This was that.
'Priceless,' Iowa tight end Dallas Clark called the celebration. 'Memorable. That was for all the Hawks who have worn the Tigerhawk and haven't been able to beat Michigan. We came into the Big House and played our butts off.'
And there it is. 'That was for all the Hawks ...' Iowa carried that sentiment and used it like a club.
Wait, wait, wait, was this the first time they did the school fight song thing in an opposing stadium? I don't remember if they did it at Penn State. They did the victory lap and high-five thing with the front-row Iowa fans, but can't remember if they sang/murdered the fight song.
The Iowa fans that day in Ann Arbor sustained a long, intense, appreciative roar that might've fueled the charter back to Iowa City.
This win opened the doors to the possibilities under Ferentz. 4-19 guy was gone. Bullies of the Big Ten guy was making Michigan say his name (like in 'Breaking Bad').
I think the players fed off the Iowa fans there that day. I know I wrote in the notebook that the players made the 'impromptu' decision to rip through the fight song.
Get this, the east end zone at Michigan Stadium has 'Michigan' written on the turf in the end zone. During this joyous, breakthrough moment in 2002, it was 'Mi ... igan.' You guys and the Hawkeyes totally blotted out the 'ch.'
Emblematic of the afternoon.
The Hawkeyes raised their helmets to the sky and sang as hard as they played.
'Our fans are flat out the best,' Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. 'That's the state of Iowa. They care, they care. Our players feed off it. I promise you our coaches feed off it, too.'
When do the Hawkeyes end and you begin? I know for some of you, that's a tough question. On this day, in this moment, you guys morphed. You didn't wear the helmets, but you played the game.
This showed you the possibilities under Ferentz. You all probably were drunk on this quote and, you know what, I wouldn't have blamed you a bit.
'We're not pretenders like a lot of people think we are,' defensive tackle Colin Cole said. 'We can play with the best of them.'
2. There was a post on the tip of my tongue that I couldn't remember. And this was 2002. Not a lot of that internet is hanging around.
It's never good when I have to call John McGlothlen, The Gazette's news research analyst, but nine out of 10 times, he comes through and finds what I'm looking for.
The key words I gave him were 'Jac Coyne,' 'Michigan,' 'Ferentz' and 'magic.'
Here's the link. I hope it works, because you're going to want to cut it out of your laptop and make a comforter out of it.
I think Jac did content for Iowa athletics for a couple of years. Maybe it was just this one. (You know how NFL teams basically employ their own media now? This was that way before the NFL did it. I'm glad Ferentz gave up on this one. I'm not sure I could've competed.)
Basically, Jac got to be a 'fly on the wall' this Michigan trip. Maybe someone Iowa saw this coming.
— Miami Air was Iowa's carrier from Cedar Rapids to Ypsilanti. Why Miami Air? I don't know, but it's probably good Ferentz isn't superstitious. Miami Air would still be flying the Hawkeyes.
— Think air travel is uncomfortable? Try being a lineman.
From the post, '(Eric) Steinbach reclined his seat onto (Ben) Sobieski's creaky knees for the majority of the flight, so Sobieski gave the seat in front of him a couple of shivers to make sure it was in its full and upright position as (Bruce) Nelson looked back in amusement.'
— Due to a communication error, the defensive bus went straight to the 'Big House' while the offensive (Bus No. 2) and support staff (No. 3) buses went to the hotel.
Iowa's defense put on a clinic in this one. It knew exactly where it was going.
— Former Iowa special teams coach Lester Erb addressing the team on Friday night, 'When you watch big fights between heavyweights, they usually spend the first couple of rounds feeling each other out. You'll see them throwing jabs. Well, we're not going to start out throwing jabs, we're going to go out there and bloody their nose. We're not going to go to the middle of the ring and dance with them. We're going to go out there and throw a haymaker.'
— Norm Parker on Saturday morning, 'You have to play through the highs, play through the lows. We play our stuff, we don't invent stuff. We contest every pass and this is a game you don't get tired in.'
While Norm spoke to the team, Phil Parker paced back-and-forth in the back of the room.
— And then it's what I believe to be the Tebow speech of Iowa football. (I love how Jac took himself completely out of this and just ran the tape. It's beautiful.)
This piece is straight chronological. Let's roll it.
Saturday, 11:54, Michigan Stadium
Ferentz puts on his jacket.
Saturday, 11:56, Michigan Stadium
'Let's move guys,' barked Ferentz, as he stood in front of the door leading to the tunnel. 'Everyone to their feet.'
'This is a big crowd but we've been through that before. We have to have poise through the ups and downs. I want you to be a good, aggressive football team.'
Ferentz raises his voice as the Michigan team can be heard coming out of the locker room across the tunnel.
'You've paid the price! There's nothing magical out there! We've just got to bust our ass; that's what we do! Let's go out there and attack them on each and every play!'
That's as good as it gets.
Shut up, I'm putting my helmet on. Where's my damn mouthpiece. Screw it. Let's do this.
— I can't leave you hanging. What did Ferentz say after the game?
When everyone had finally arrived in the Hawkeye locker room, Ferentz stood in front of his team, took a deep breath and paused.
'They say these are the types of games that players come to Michigan for,' he said.
'Well, this is why we
came to Michigan!'
Really glad John was able to find this. I knew that quote was there. I wanted to get it for this so badly. Everyone, buy John a beer.
3. Iowa's defense took no prisoners.
The drop backs were white-knuckle adventures for Michigan quarterback John Navarre.
Against the Hawkeyes on this day, Navarre's drop backs were Indiana Jones over a pit of alligators with one hand on the gold and the other on a vine that has an inch of sinew left before snapping.
'That is probably the most rush we've had all season,' said Navarre, who was sacked three times for 21 yards of losses. 'They had great attitude and motivation. They pinned their ears back and came all day long.'
The Hawkeyes sacked Michigan quarterbacks five times. They had many, many more hits on Navarre, including defensive tackle Colin Cole's shot that knocked Navarre out of the game for a play on Michigan's first drive.
That hit set a wicked pace that Iowa's front four kept all afternoon.
When it wasn't Cole coming up the middle, it was tackle Jared Clauss in Navarre's face. When the rush wasn't from the middle, ends Howard Hodges and Jonathan Babineaux came off the edge.
Cole's hit might only have knocked the wind out of Navarre, but it resonated the entire game.
'I think that set the tone for what it was going to be like,' Clauss said. 'He got up a little shaky. We're not trying to hurt anybody, but he got up a little shaky, a little rattled. He didn't know what to expect the rest of the day.'
We've been over Howard Hodges and my opinion that he is a seriously underrated in the Ferentz era.
'I'm not trying to be cocky or anything, but No. 62 was damn near tired of me at the end of the game,' said Hodges, who led the Hawkeyes with two sacks and three tackles for loss. 'We feel like we have to get pressure on the QB and stop the run. We do that and we're going to be fine.'
The sacks were the most obvious product of Iowa's pass rush. Cole, Hodges and end Matt Roth were at this point among Big Ten leaders with six. It was more than that in this one.
Someone should've stopped the fight and told the Hawkeyes it was just a game.
The Wolverines rushed for 22 yards, averaging 1.1 on 20 carries. Navarre completed 14 of 33 passes for 112 yards. The Hawkeyes held Michigan to just 171 yards on offense.
'I thought our defensive line played outstanding,' Ferentz said. 'I thought Howard Hodges was tremendous. I thought all four of those guys were digging hard out there and giving it everything they had. Our defense feeds off that.'
The Hawkeyes turned every play into Indiana Jones over a pit of alligators.
Quote: From Jac's story:
Jones breaks a tackle at the line of scrimmage on a screen passes and buzzes down the field for a touchdown. I'm standing at the opposite end of the stadium, but the chants coming from the stands in the far end zone are clear:
'I'! 'O'! 'W'! 'A'!
'I'! 'O'! 'W'! 'A'!
Note: From a Gazette news story that day:
Kory Selken is buying plane tickets to Pasadena today.
'The Hawks will win the rest of their season,' assured Selken, a University of Iowa pharmacy student who watched Saturday's Hawkeye game with a group of friends at The Vine Tavern & Eatery in Coralville. 'I know they will go to the Rose Bowl now.'
Ah, Kory. So close!
Why No. 3? — I don't know. I'm starting to look at No. 2 and wonder.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — With everyone from the donor guys to the managers whooping it up, Bob Sanders and Jonathan Babineaux stood in the back, along the brick wall that surrounds Michigan Stadium.
As the clock wound down on No. 13 Iowa's 34-9 thrashing of No. 8 Michigan, the two stood silently, content to watch the video on the stadium scoreboard. They were quiet. Too quiet.
It all became clear with less than a minute left.
Sanders and Babineaux hung by the trainer's table with the bucket of Gatorade on it. While equipment manager Greg Morris distracted Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz, Sanders and Babineaux made their move.
Ferentz took the whole drink, ice and water down the back of his black jacket, all over the back of his beige khakis.
'The perfect plan,' Sanders said with a smile. 'We got him good, too, didn't we?'
Iowa got Michigan good Saturday.
Quarterback Brad Banks threw three touchdown passes and reserve running back Jermelle Lewis gained 105 of his 109 yards in the second half to lead the Hawkeyes (8-1, 5-0 Big Ten) to the top rung of the Big Ten, snapping a seven-game losing streak to Michigan (6-2, 3-1 Big Ten) and handing the Wolverines their worst loss at Michigan Stadium since 1967.
The score was Iowa's largest margin of victory in Michigan Stadium since a 37-14 victory in 1958. Iowa is 5-0 in the Big Ten for the first time since 1990, which, coincidentally, was the last time the Hawkeyes won at Michigan.
Iowa's defense really got the Wolverines good.
On Michigan's fourth play, defensive tackle Colin Cole sacked Wolverines quarterback John Navarre. He missed only one play, but Navarre wasn't the same.
'You could tell,' Cole said. 'He wasn't setting his feet, he was always looking around, thinking about who's coming next. He wasn't the same.'
The Hawkeyes racked up five sacks and had countless hits on Navarre. But that tells only half of what was a three-hour submission hold on Michigan's offense.
The Wolverines rushed for 22 yards on 20 carries. That's 1.1 yards a carry. They had 171 yards offense, including a minuscule 71 in the second half. With 59 offensive plays, that's 2.9 yards a play. They held the ball for 21:33, nearly 17 minutes less than Iowa. That's not enough time.
And that's getting them good.
'I guess I don't have enough experience to say that I can look into someone's eyes and say that they're beaten,' defensive tackle Jared Clauss said. 'But you could see their energy level wasn't there. We were jumping around, having a good time. We all wanted to get sacks. I didn't see it with those guys.'
Iowa's offense got Michigan good, too, at the beginning.
The Hawkeyes scored on their first two possessions, going 80 yards on their first drive and scoring on a Banks-to-C. J. Jones tunnel screen. Iowa's second drive reached Michigan's 6-inch line, but died and ended as a Nate Kaeding 19-yard field goal, giving Iowa a 10-0 lead with 3:12 left in the first quarter.
The Wolverines stiffened and got back in the game.
Last season at Kinnick Stadium, the Hawkeyes pushed Michigan around only to give up a blocked punt for a touchdown. Saturday, punter David Bradley fumbled and was called for an unsportsmanlike penalty to set up the Wolverines at Iowa's 1.
Tailback Chris Perry scored on a 1-yard run to pull Michigan within 10-6 at halftime.
'We could've lost it after that, but, you know, we're not the same team we were last season,' said tight end Dallas Clark, who caught five passes for 68 yards. 'Last season, that play got in our heads. This year, we put it out of our heads.'
After Michigan pulled within 10-9 on Adam Finley's 40-yard field goal, Iowa's punt team got one back.
With Iowa strong safety Bob Sanders in his grill — as the kids say these days — Michigan punt returner Markus Curry bobbled and fumbled a Bradley punt. Iowa safety Scott Boleyn recovered to set up the Hawkeyes at Michigan's 16.
Banks hooked up with Jones for a 3-yard TD and a 17-9 lead with 8:57 left in the third.
'I thought the biggest play of the game was the fumbled punt,' Michigan Coach Lloyd Carr said. 'That was the turning point. After that, we couldn't get anything going.'
That's when Iowa's offense came back to life and Michigan's defense melted like the green custard that passes for a field at Michigan Stadium.
With leading rusher Fred Russell on the bench with a hand injury and junior Aaron Greving out, Lewis put his stamp on the game. He was the main cog in the two clinching drives, both of which ended in Lewis touchdowns.
'You know, maybe it doesn't matter who runs the football for us,' said Lewis, who posted his second 100-yard day this season. 'As long as the line is blocking like it does, it doesn't matter who runs it. You just follow the blocks.'
Iowa rolled up 399 yards offense. Banks completed 18 of 29 for 222 yards and had another 53 yards on seven carries. Lewis spurred a ground game that finished with 177 yards.
'Everybody did a little something today,' Banks said. 'We tried to get everybody a touch. Everybody did a little something with their turn.'
Ferentz didn't break into Rose Bowl hyperbole, a prudent move with three games left. But it's time to start weighing the hows and what-ifs of a possible trip to Pasadena.
Bottom line: The Hawkeyes need Ohio State to lose. There's nothing they can do about that. Iowa doesn't play Ohio State this season. The Buckeyes cleared a significant hurdle Saturday by beating Penn State.
Of course, Iowa needs to keep winning, but if the Buckeyes also keep winning, the Big Ten title and the Rose Bowl would go to OSU on a better overall winning percentage.
That didn't seem to matter Saturday, a day Iowa cleared a significant hurdle of its own.