The Aughts in Review: No, We Will Not Boiler Up, Thank You Very Much

Continuing our look back at the decade that was in Iowa football, celebrating the highs and the lows -- and, hopefully, distracting us from the ongoing disaster that is Iowa basketball.  This series looks back at Iowa's results across the entire decade against every Big Ten foe, as well as Iowa State.  According to the alphabet, next up is the other school from Indiana, Purdue Polytechnic School of Trains and Oatmeal.

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Frank Duong's corpse should be around there somewhere... 


PURDUE BOILERMAKERS
Iowa vs. Purdue in the 00s: 5-3

WINS
2002: Iowa 31, Purdue 28
2004: Iowa 23, Purdue 21
2005: Iowa 34, Purdue 17

2006: Iowa 47, Purdue 17
2008: Iowa 22, Purdue 17

LOSSES
2001: Purdue 23, Iowa 14
2003: Purdue 27, Iowa 14
2007: Purdue 31, Iowa 6

2002 Brad Banks was absolutely out of this world.

BEST WIN: Iowa 31, Purdue 28 (2002)
HS called it "surreal" and "the greatest game I've ever seen" and OPS called it "beyond a shadow of a doubt, the most exciting sporting event I've ever been to, ever."  I'll just settle for calling it an infuckingcredible game and the most confoundingly amazing win of the Aughts for Iowa.  Before we break down the nuts and bolts of why it was so ridiculously awesome, a few words about the context of this game -- and the 2002 season in general -- to the Iowa fan experience.  Football seasons are like drugs.  Some are good and some are bad... and some are really good and some are really bad.  The 2000 Iowa season was like weed bought from that shifty buddy down the hall: you'll get a little buzz, but it's not gonna last very long and it'd not gonna be very good.  It's fun but it's not gonna get you addicted.  By contrast, the 2002 Iowa season was the purest, best cocaine imaginable: instantly addictive and the source of dizzying highs.  Seasons like 2000 might make you think that Iowa football is fun, but just as a way to kill a few hours on a Saturday.  Seasons like 2002 make you hate every hour of the week in the fall that isn't Iowa football and make the off-season seem like the Spanish Inquisition.  If you're here now, reading this, chances are strong that you've snorted the good stuff when it comes to Iowa football at some point.

If this particular game was a drug, it would have to be PCP -- or maybe mescalin -- whatever would give you the strongest, freakiest hallucinations possible, because there's no other way to describe this game than infuckingsane.  The ways Iowa scored in this game simply defied belief.  Nate Kaeding kicked a 51-yard field goal.  Iowa blocked a 22-yard field goal and Antwan Allen returned it 85 yards for a touchdown.  Dallas Clark scored on a 95-yard touchdown pass (also contains the fourth down catch around the 6:00 mark).  They blocked a punt that Jermire Roberts recovered in the end one for another touchdown.  And the game-winning touchdown came with barely over a minute to play, on fourth and goal, after being set up by a Banks scramble of 60+ yards earlier in the drive.  (And I could have sworn Iowa also scored off of a blocked extra point in that game, but I can't find any verification of that, so my mind must be imagining it.)  Naturally, victory was secured by an interception from Adolphus Shelton, a little-used defensive back.  Most of those plays would have stood out vividly if they'd been the only crazy play in the game; to have all of them in the same game simply elevated it to surreal brilliance.  The Iowa defense could not stop Purdue (they crushed Iowa in first downs and total yards, 30 to 14 and 507 to 384) and the Iowa offense spent much of the day being stymied (their only successful sustained drive was the game-winner, and even that contained Banks' monstrous scramble).  By most practical indicators, it was a game that Iowa "should not" have won.  But they did win, and in doing so they created arguably the most indelible memories from one of Iowa's most unforgettable seasons.

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This is more of a metaphorical representation of the JC6 Experience than an "actual game photo."

WORST LOSS: Purdue 31, Iowa 6 (2007)
Running with the drug theme, this would be the worst ditch weed imaginable: no buzz at all and all it would do is give you a splitting headache.  It's hard to pick one standalone "low point" in the 2007 season because, unfortunately, there's no shortage of contenders.  Was it losing to a godawful Iowa State team that didn't even manage to score a touchdown?  Or getting spanked on homecoming by Indiana?  Perhaps getting blown out in Happy Valley?  Or maybe just the Senior Day meltdown against Western Michigan?  Those are all worthy contenders, but this game was also pretty hellacious, the latest in a series of nightmare trips to West Lafayette and possibly the most ineffectual performance by an Iowa team since the 2004 Arizona State desert debacle.  What makes the game even more inexplicable is the context of the season surrounding it; it came a week after the Hawks notched a rousing win over a top-20 Illinois team and a week before they rattled off three straight wins to push themselves back into the bowl picture.  In the midst of the best football they played all year, they played this game, an absolute turd if ever there was one. 

It's hard to say exactly why the game felt so much worse than the Penn State game, for instance... but it did.  It remains the last Iowa game that I ever quit watching early in absolute disgust.  In terms of the raw numbers, it didn't have the disastrous streak of three-and-outs that the Penn State game had (but it didn't have a touchdown, either)... but it just had a pervasive sense of futility and hopelessness.  Iowa spent most of the game unable to move the ball except in fits and spurts and on the few occasions when they could string together a drive or when a Purdue turnover or a bad punt had gifted them field position, they were utterly incapable of taking advantage.  This was also one of JC6's really awful games (17/40, 177 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception, multiple sacks) and more fodder for the growing contingent of anti-Jake fans.  It was hard not to see their arguments: his pocket presence had evaporated and his accuracy seemed to be regressing rather than improving as the season went on.  Granted, he also had an incredibly porous offensive line and a hideously inexperienced group of receivers, but Christensen still became a lightning rod of criticism among Iowa fandom. 

This was also one of the games that caused people to (briefly) lose faith in Norm Parker: despite getting a few stops early, Iowa still conceded 431 yards of offense and Curtis Painter seemed to pick apart the defense.  I remember this game being cited frequently by people declaring that Norm's defense was too vanilla and that it couldn't stop the spread.  Not to slight former Iowa players (they played hard and they were good guys), but the reality was that the personnel simply wasn't as good as it was in the years before or after.  This was a defense that started Adam Shada and Harold Dalton and expected Mike Klinkenborg to defend receivers.  God bless Klink -- he fought through a lot of injuries, played his ass off, and represented the team as well as any player has in the Aughts (it gets a little dusty around here whenever I see his post-game interview after the 2006 Iowa State game)... but he just didn't have the quicks.  Heart can only take you so far.

PLAYER OF THE RIVALRY: Drew Tate (Iowa QB, 2003-2006)

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That Purdue dude has no chance once Drew's mighty mite powers kick in.

This is the third different time Tate's been cited in this category, but he might honestly deserve it the most here; the Illinois nod was more a lack of better options (and a nod to the fact that he participated in four wins over Illinois, which is a pretty special accomplishment) and the Ohio State nod was a result of being the best Iowa player on the field in Iowa's lone win over the Buckeyes in the Aughts.  But the nod here is for his consistently excellent body of work against the Boilermakers.  In his three starts against Purdue, Tate went 60/101 for 880 passing yards, seven touchdowns (to just one measly interception) and, most importantly, racked up three wins.  He was most efficient in 2006 (17/23, 253 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT) in Iowa's 47-17 blowout win, but perhaps most effective in 2005 (19/33, 357yards, 3 TD, 0 INT), when he led Iowa to their lone win in shitty West Lafayette.  Honorable mention to Dallas Clark, particularly for his superlative efforts in 2002: three receptions, 116 receiving yards, and two mammoth touchdowns).

 

PURDUE IN THE AUGHTS

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Technically, one of these men didn't coach Purdue in the Aughts.  But he should have.

As Iowa fans, we're well aware of the power a good mustache can have for a coach.  In the '80s, at the peak of his powers, Hayden rocked one sweet lip-warmer.  The nose-brush vanished in later years and Iowa's football prowess also took a dip.  Coincidence?  HA.  Meanwhile, as the clean-shaven look has continued its steady takeover of the faces of the nation's college football coaches, one institution has proudly stood its ground against the Bare Lip Brigade -- the Purdue Boilermakers.  For their steadfast support of facial follicles, the Purdue faithful were rewarded with seven bowls during the Aughts (including a frankly alarming number of trips to the Sun Bowl; no fanbase should have to spend that much time in El Paso).  Unfortunately, the decade peaked for them in its very first year, when they took advantage of a clusterfuck (three teams at 6-2) in the Big Ten standings to go to the Rose Bowl, which they promptly lost to the Rick Neuheisal-led Washington Huskies.  They never reached those grandiose heights again the rest of the decade, topping out with a Capital One Bowl trip after a 9-3 season in 2003.

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When does he ever find time to play football?

The player of the Aughts for Purdue was undoubtedly one Kyle Raymond Orton, a Renaissance man and bon vivant for the ages... and an occasional football player, too.  Hailing from the mean streets of Altoona, IA, Orton became renowned for his ability to pull prodigious amounts of tail, his deep-seated love affair with Jack Daniels, his ability to grow a totally creepy fucking gnarly neckbeard... and, yeah, his ability to throw the pigskin around a bit, too.  He didn't set the records that predecessors like Drew Brees did, but he did wind up in the top five all-time in most passing categories for Purdue, which is not too shabby.   Orton was poised for his greatest season in 2004, having led Purdue to a 5-0 start and throwing 18 touchdowns (to zero interceptions), and thrusting himself into the Heisman Trophy conversation (and Purdue into the national title picture)... when this happened:

Goodbye, Heisman.  Goodbye, national title.  Purdue lost the game and  the next three in a row, eventually winding up 7-4 and in the Sun Bowl (yet again).  That was really the last grasp at greatness Tiller had in him at Purdue.  He coached another four years, sandwiching a pair of losing seasons around a pair of above-average 8-win seasons.  Everyone's favorite Wilford Brimley-lookalike took his final bow in 2008, clearing the stage for Purdue's next mustachioed maverick, Danny Hope.  Hope only led Purdue to a 5-7 record in 2009, but his finely-trimmed soup strainer served as an inspiration to a nation of proud 'stache survivors.

RANDOM REMINISCES

  • Remember the chatter up above about miserable trips to West-Lafayette?  Uh, 2003 was one of those.  The final score was only 27-14, but it was 27-0 midway through the third quarter and the game was effectively over.  The enduring image of that game is Nathan Chandler air-mailing a ridiculously wide open Ramon Ochoa on what would have been a sure touchdown.  Deep passes were always an adventure under Chandler and never moreso than in this particular game.
  • The shoe was on the other foot in 2004, as Iowa jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter... and then played a desperate game of OH GOD PLEASE JUST HOLD THE FUCK ON PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE.  It wasn't pretty, but the defense did at least manage to make just enough plays to enable Iowa to win, which was crucial since the offense went into hibernation after that first quarter.  Well, aside from the 12-play, 94-yard drive that wound up in a field goal.  Ah, Ken O'Keefe offensive playcalling: feel the burning excitement!
  • As previously noted, 2005 was Iowa's one and only win in the unchecked wildneress that is West Lafayette, Indiana.  Even without the presence of Steady Eddie Hinkel (who was injured in the game and whose absence was painfully felt against Michigan and Northwestern over the next few weeks), Drew Tate went bananas (19/33, 357, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions) and Ed Miles had the highlight of his Iowa career, making a tip-toe interception in the end zone to preserve Iowa's lead late in the game.
  • Likewise, we would be remiss if we didn't mention that the 2006 game featured Adam Shada making the highlight of his Iowa career, the 98-yard pick-six he ran back in the fourth quarter.  Granted, Iowa was already up 40-17 at the time, so the play didn't mean all that much, but it was a spectacular play and proof positive that Shada wasn't a worthless scrub.  That game also might have been the best of Damian Sims' career (155 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries) and one of the earliest signs that Shonn Greene could be a playa in the Big Ten (88 punishing yards and a touchdown on 11 carries).  The game itself was as good a rebound as you could expect from the preceding week's primetime flop against Ohio State; unfortunately, it was only a dead cat bounce of a rebound and the bottom really fell out of the season the next week in Bloomington, IN.
  • And, finally, 2008... a rather forgettable game, aside from Shonn fucking Greene and EPIC DUONG (the Purdue highlights start at the 2:30 mark).  This game really showed off how far Shonn had come since the beginning of the season -- and how good he could be.  He displayed power (trucking over Duong on one his of touchdown runs), quicks (hitting the O button to spin out of trouble and get around the edge on his other touchdown run), and just plain speed (outrunning the Purdue defenders on that same touchdown run).  That was the last time Iowa fans would get a glimpse of Shonn in Kinnick Stadium, but he left them with a show.
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