Kirk's Works: Counting down the Top 25 games of the Ferentz era - Number 1

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It says it right on the man's jersey (Chris Donahue/Hawkeyessports.com)

The date: November 8, 2008

The opponent: Penn State

The score: Iowa 24, #3 Penn State 23

What the hell just happened? See above. There's probably no need to rehash this game, I've replayed it in my head at least 30 times by now (and we always win!) and I'm sure most Hawkeye fans have done the same. But for posterity's sake, let's touch on some of the highlights.

  • It was cold as hell that day. There were off-and-on flurries during the day and the winds were howling (more on that later).
  • Bob Griese made a point before kickoff that not only did Penn State need to win, they needed to do it with style. Ha-lar-ious.

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Stylin' (Brian Ray/Source Media Group)

  • On Penn State's first possession, Daryll Clark was sacked by Adrian Clayborn where the ball rolled into the end zone where it looked like it was recovered by Iowa for a touchdown. And even if Iowa didn't fall on it, it still would have been a safety since the ball was recovered in the end zone. So of course, the officials gave Penn State the ball on the one yard line. And this was after an official review!
  • Didn't matter anyway, it took Shonn Greene just two carries to score a touchdown and it was 7-0 Iowa early.
  • Penn State's next possession went 19 plays (including seven inside the Iowa 10), but only ended with a field goals thanks to an awesome performance on the goal line.
  • Then nothing really happened for Iowa again in the first half, the Hawkeyes ran a total of 14 offensive plays in the first half. Penn State, meanwhile, added another field goal and a touchdown to go up 13-7 at halftime.
  • A horrible Stanzi interception to start the second half led to another Penn State field goal, but the Iowa quarterback bounced back in a big way leading Iowa down the field and hitting DJK on a wonderful double move to get the Hawkeyes back within two.
  • Penn State went three-and-out on its next possession and all the momentum was on Iowa's side. Sadly, the Hawks quickly squandered it away when a botched center-quarterback exchange gave the Nittany Lions the ball on the Iowa 28. Derrick Williams scored four plays later to make it 23-14 headed to the fourth.
  • The two teams traded punts before Iowa made things very interesting as Stanzi connected twice with Brandon Myers for 25 yards and Greene took it the rest of the way scoring from six-yards out to make it 23-21.
  • Penn State went three-and-out on their next possession with Matt Kroul blowing up a 3rd and one. Iowa, though, was called for a roughing the punter penalty which really only should have been five yard to give the ball back. Penn State got the ball all the way down to the Iowa 23 with a first down, but then for some reason decided to get cute, giving the ball to Williams twice for a two losses. The Nittany Lions were called for holding on 3rd and 14 and Ferentz decided to push Penn State back (declining the penalty would have set up fourth down).
  • The move paid off in spades as Clark decided to throw caution to the win (literally) on a deep pass that was picked off by Tyler Jimmer-Jammin' Sash and returned to the Iowa 29.
  • Now things are getting good. Stanzi is sacked on first down and then makes a huge mistake by throwing a short pass to Greene, who drops it. Stanzi eludes trouble on third down and then throws a desperate heave to Trey Stross. Anthony Scirrotto plays hero for the Nittany Lions and goes up for the interception, but pretty much jumps on top of Stross' back to do so. The pass interference penalty gives Iowa new life.
  • Almost forgotten is the fact that Iowa faces another third and long three plays later and again Stanzi comes through, finding Myers for 11 yards and another first down. Two plays later, DJK catches his own first down and now Iowa is on the Penn State 29. Then KOK gets ballsy and on 3rd and 6 from the 25, Stanzi rolls to his left and finds DJK for one final first down to the 15. Greene rushes for two yards to the 14 and Iowa calls timeout.
  • Penn State calls timeout too in an attempt to ice the kicker, but the ball is snapped and well... take a look.

Never gets old

  • With still two seconds left in the game, Iowa's fans run onto the field where they are quickly shuttled back to the sideline. Now kicking from his own 15, Murray kicks a squibber that is fielded by Penn State and fumbled where it is recovered by Iowa.
  • Bedlam.

Heroes: Almost too many to count. Let's start with Murray, a hometown boy who had not attempted a field goal since the Hawkeyes' season opener with Maine, but came in fully prepared and kicked the second-most famous kick in Iowa history. There's Stanzi who played... well a Stanzi game. He passed for just 171, had a fumbled snap and threw a bad interception, but also hooked up with DJK on a fantastic pass play and then led his team when they needed it most during the fourth quarter. There's Mr. Reliable, Shonn Greene, who picked up more than 100 yards again during the student section's Greene Out and scored two touchdowns. There's Tyler Sash, who started his legend on this day with his key interception. There's the Iowa defensive line, there's DJK, there's Brandon Myers, there's Ryan Donahue. Totally a team victory.

Important? There's nothing that I could write that will top this. So do me a favor, click on that link and revel in the victory one more time.

A/V:

One final, long video from Hawkeye hero TheHawkeyeHistorian

Personal memories: My Dad is not big on celebrations. I've attended a number of games with him during my life and most of them consist of three things: him clapping, him muttering and him reluctantly accepting high fives from the slightly inebriated fans around him. He's just not a very rah-rah person and I would not have him any other way. He doesn't even really stand during games unless the people in front of him are standing because now he cannot see. Now you're probably not going to believe this, but there were a lot of people standing right before Murray attempted his kick and that meant both me and my dad were standing as well. I closed my eyes, said a prayer and opened them just as the ball was snapped. The kick was up, it was good and the whole stadium went crazy. I was jumping up and down, yelling, clapping, awkwardly fist pumping and then I finally turned to my dad. He stood quietly with a huge grin and his arms outstretched in the air. I remember Greene's first run, I remember the goal line stand, I remember Sash's interception, I remember Murray kick, but the moment I will always cherish is turning to my Dad, seeing his big smile and his big arms up high and knowing that we were thinking the exact same thing: "It was good."

It still is.

Epilogue: So there's the list... at least ours. Yours is probably very different and that's great. Our individual lists were not the same either. The great thing about college football and all sports in general is that personal memories often trump wins and losses. We all see the same score, but none of us share the same memories. One of the best parts of this countdown was reading the recollections that commenters shared about individual games. Some were heartwarming, some were almost too crazy to believe and some involved consuming alcohol (OK, most, not some). All were personal though and that is what mattered. So now it's a little more than 24 hours until the Hawkeyes kickoff their 2012 season and nobody knows exactly what is going to happen this year, but I'm pretty sure on three things: we're going to win some games, we're going to lose some games and we're going make a ton of memories while doing both. I can't wait.

PAST INSTALLMENTS:

#2: Georgia Tech 2009

#3: Michigan 2002
#4: Purdue 2002
#5: LSU 2005
#6: Wisconsin 2004
#7: Michigan State 2009
#8: Northwestern 2000
#9: Michigan 2003
#10: Minnesota 2002
#11: Ohio State 2004
#12: Penn State 2009
#13: Penn State 2000
#14: Penn State 2004
#15: Michigan State 2000
#16: Minnesota 2008
#17: Texas Tech 2001
#18: Wisconsin 2005
#19: Florida 2003
#20: Wisconsin 2008
#21: Michigan State 2010
#22: Penn State 2002
#23: Michigan State 2007
#24: Northern Illinois 1999
#25: Iowa State 2003

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