I swear this makes sense later. Really.
The Date: November 4, 2000
The opponent: Penn State
The score: Iowa 26, Penn State 23 (2OT)
What the hell just happened? Not surprising for a coach that went 1-10 in his first season, but it took Kirk Ferentz a long time to pick up some milestone ‘firsts' as Iowa's head coach.
The first win overall was easy enough as the Northern Illinois victory came in Ferentz' third game. The next milestone win (Ferentz' first Big 10 victory), though, did not come for another 13 games. And with that game coming at home, Ferentz still lacked a Big 10 road victory - a streak of futility that spanned nine road games and 20 games overall.
Fortunately in the first Saturday of November, the 1-8 Hawkeyes found the cure-all for their road woes.
Don't worry sad Penn State girl, only seven more Iowa wins to go
If there has been one team that the Ferentz-led Hawkeyes have seemed to own over the last decade-plus, it has been the Nittany Lions. Hell, we even offer a shirt that commemorates the ownage (a shirt that has recently taken a double meaning).
Ferentz' success over Penn State starts here and of course it helps that the Nittany Lions were going through their own downswing (2000 was the first year that Penn State did not make a bowl since 1988).
Still, it was doubtful that many expected the 1-8 Hawkeyes to get off to the start they did. Kyle McCann completed nine of his first 10 pass attempts and found Kahlil Hill for a touchdown to make it 7-0. Freshman Nate Kaeding (looking 12 at the time) added two field goals and Iowa jumped out to a 13-0 lead.
The Nittany Lions answered back with 13-straight points of their own and the game became extremely tight. Kaeding gave Iowa the lead back with his third field goal with 6:17 remaining, but Penn State kicker Ryan Primanti answered with his own field goal to tie things up again.
Primanti even had a chance to win the game on the final play of regulation, but a 56-yard field goal attempt came up short.
Penn State got the ball first in overtime and scored on a Rashard Casey touchdown run. Iowa's first play of overtime, meanwhile, ended in a McCann sack and near-fumble. The Hawks, though, still earned the first down and then scored their own touchdown on a Ladell Betts 11-yard run.
Iowa turned right back around on offense and ended their second overtime with Kaeding's fourth field goal. If there was nervousness about the game's outcome, it lasted all of six seconds as Casey's first pass of the second overtime bounced off the chest of tight end Tony Stewart and into the waiting arms of Iowa's Ryan Hansen to secure the win and produce the second greatest dogpile of the Ferentz-era (that's next summer's countdown).
Heroes: How about the Sexiest Athlete of 2000? Yes, in a story that would have caused BHGP to explode, Iowa defensive back Ryan Hansen was featured in People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive issue. The announcement came earlier in the week before Hansen etched his name into Hawkeye lore by picking off Casey and giving Iowa the win. Greatest week ever? Greatest week ever. Special mention (pun intended) for Kaeding, who provided a sneak preview of the next four years by booting the four field goals (including 48- and 49-yard kicks). Betts carried the ball for 101 yards and the overtime touchdown.
Important? This game, along with the very next one (which you might yet see on the countdown), can probably be traced back to as the turning point of the Hawkeyes under Ferentz. Case in point, Iowa went 2-18 in the previous 20 games before the Penn State win, 13-7 in its next 20 (22-8 in its next 30). It was also the first overtime ever for both Iowa and Penn State, that's pretty important right? Right?
2000 Iowa at Penn State Highlights (via TheHawkeyeHistorian)
Personal memories: Maybe the quickest I've gone from nervous to ecstatic while watching an Iowa game (except for that one bowl game).