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Hawkeyes going to Rose Bowl

Hawk Talk

I’ve waited 52 years for a season like this.
It’s still a good season, even though the Hawks lost a knock-down drag-out slugfest to Michigan State, 16-13, last Saturday night.
The Hawks went undefeated in the regular season and their 12-0 record has never happened before.
Even though they lost, their consolation prize is playing Stanford in the Rose Bowl!
I started following the Iowa Hawkeye football team in 1963 when I was 9 years old. Jerry Burns was in his third year as head coach, Gary Snook and Fred Riddle were the quarterbacks. Gary was a sophomore from City High and Fred Riddle is now a dentist in Iowa City.
1963 was also the year John F. Kennedy was assassinated on Friday, Nov. 22, and the game with Iowa and Notre Dame, which was scheduled on Nov. 23, was cancelled.
The Hawks finished 3-3-2 that year.
I didn’t listen to any of the games on the radio, but read about them in the Des Moines Register Sports section called the Peach.
I don’t remember much about the 1965 team that finished 1-9 when some publications, including Playboy magazine, picked them to win the Big Ten.
I started listening to the Iowa football and basketball games on the radio in 1966.
The football team, coached by Ray Nagel, was led by sophomore quarterback Ed Podolak and finished 2-8 (freshman were ineligible).
1968 and 1969 were fun teams to listen to because of Iowa’s explosive offense.
The Hawks were 5-5 both years.
Iowa set a Big Ten record in 1968 averaging 36.6 points per game.
Ray Nagel was done in 1970.
Some blame Forest Evashevski, the Iowa athletic director, for Nagel’s departure, calling the feud between the two explosive.
Frank Lauterbur was the head coach from 1971-73 and Iowa went 4-28-1 in his three years.
I was a sophomore at Iowa Lakes Community College at Estherville in 1973, when Iowa was 0-11 and I listened to most of the games on the radio.
The first time I saw Iowa play was in 1970. I was a sophomore in high school and the Hawks lost to USC, 48-0.
We left Moville at 6 a.m., got to Iowa City around noon, parked in the university library parking lot and ate at the Quadrangule.
The game started at 1 p.m. and we drove back (about 280 miles) after the game and were home by 10 p.m.
I came down twice in 1972 and Iowa got beat 24-0 by Purdue and 31-0 by Michigan.
I was a football manager for the Hawkeyes in 1974 which was a dream come true.
Bob Commings was the new head coach.
I traveled to Michigan for the first game that year and even though Iowa lost, 24-7, I got to see Iowa score its first touchdown in four games!
The Hawkeyes knocked off UCLA the following week, 21-10, ending a 12-game losing streak, the longest at the time.
That game will still go down as one of my favorite Iowa games.
UCLA was ranked 12th in the nation, Iowa was a 16-point underdog and were led by a rookie head coach named Dick Vermeil, who would coach the St. Louis Rams to a Super Bowl in 1999.
Commings was gone after the 1978 season and Iowa was in search of a new coach for the fourth time in 13 years.
John Hayden Fry took over and for the most part, the last 36 years have been pretty good.
I’ll never forget that first game that Hayden coached.
I was in Moville listening to the game on the radio and the Hawks jumped out to a 26-3 lead at halftime and Dennis Mosley, a senior running back from Ohio, scored a record-tying four touchdowns.
Indiana came back to win, 30-26, and Lee Corso, now the head man on ESPN’s College Game Day, was the head coach.
I was back in Iowa City in the fall of 1981 after getting my degree from Iowa in the spring (I was on the nine-year, no-pressure plan).
I had season tickets from 1981 until 2001 when I became a sports reporter for the North Liberty Leader and have only missed three or four home games in the last 14 years.
The opening game in 1981, with Iowa knocking off powerhouse Nebraska, 10-7, was another one of my favorite games of all time.
Throughout the Hayden years, the 36-7 win over Michigan State at the end of the ‘81 season which clinched a Rose Bowl bid, plus the 12-10 win over Michigan in 1985 stand out.
When Kirk Ferentz took over in 1999, I sat through the 13-game losing streak and was in the stands when Iowa knocked off Michigan State, 21-16, in 2000.
Of course, the 2002 and 2004 Big Ten co-championship teams were fun as was the 2009 when Iowa finished 11-2.
There have only been six times the Hawkeyes have won 10 games or more in the history of Iowa football.
The loss to the Spartans in the Big Ten Championship will sting for a while, but what a great effort.
State came into the game averaging over 33 points per game and the Hawkeye defense cut that in half and held the Spartans without a touchdown until 27 seconds were left in the game.
Twenty-seven more seconds and Iowa would have been the Big Ten champs, but it wasn’t meant to be.
That’s the lowest point total of the season for Michigan State.
Gritty performance by C.J. Beathard, who was hit, sacked and chased all over. He was 18-26 for 216 yards.
For the season, C.J. has completed 202 of 329 (61 percent) for 2,570 yards, 15 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Oh, yeah, he is 13-1 as a starter.
C.J.’s only touchdown pass covered 85 yards with Tevaun Smith catching the ball on the Spartan 30 and taking it to the house.
Iowa led 13-9 with 14:49 left in the game.
Iowa held the lead until 27 ticks were left on the clock as Michigan State went on a 22-play, 9:04 minute drive to win the game.
That’s the first time all year that the Hawks trailed in the fourth quarter.
Iowa ran just 16 plays in the second half, the Spartans 52.
It didn’t help that Jordan Canzeri went out with a leg injury in the first quarter, but make no doubt about it, the Spartan defense was for real.
I believe the Spartans’ 17-14 win at Ohio State, with their second-team quarterback, was one of the best wins of the year.
Their two defensive ends looked like Drew Ott before he got hurt.
I thought Marshall Kohen’s three field goals might be the difference.
I am still disappointed, but I’m proud of how hard the Hawkeyes played.
It’s not over, as Iowa still gets to go to the Rose Bowl.
After 52 years of following the Hawkeyes, it’s still a year to remember.