WHERE WERE WE? Oh yeah, it was directional Michigan week. EA Sports knows Iowa too well at this point. The Hawkeyes were coming off of an emotional win on the road against their in-state rival Iowa State. This was to be the last non-conference test before heading into conference play. It was setup as a perfect trap game.
Hawkeye fans had much reason to be disappointed in their team's performance. Western Michigan had major upset on their mind and it showed in the first quarter when they held a sluggish Iowa team to only seven points. The Hawkeyes were sleep walking on offense but were able to get some points just prior to halftime.
Kirk Ferentz remarked as he led his team into the tunnel for the midpoint of the game, "we didn't have a good week of practice and unfortunately it carried over to this morning. We're going to have to make some changes or Western Michigan is going to walk out of here with a win, certainly."
The Hawkeyes never did get it going in the second half and Western Michigan capitalized on Iowa's mishaps, adding a safety for two points in the fourth quarter. Ultimately, Iowa's ground game proved to be too much for the Broncos and Iowa did prevail in a game Hawkeyes fans will love to soon forget. Iowa improves to 4-0 on the season with a 52-2 win over Western Michigan.
BIG TEN CONFERENCE PLAY BEGINS. Iowa is 4-0! Who saw that coming? Wow! EA Sports is the best! Iowa's sweep of the non-conference slate has them ranked in the Top 25 coming in at #22 in the nation. The Gophers are off to a solid start too, beginning the season 3-1. Minnesota's lone loss was last week against a ranked San Jose State team at home. Iowa already has one road game for a rivalry trophy under their belt and they look to keep the Floyd of Rosedale and return him to his rightful place in Iowa City.
Minnesota is led by quarterback Ian "Fin" Ziering who has an impressive eight touchdown to two interception ratio. Running back Ta'ra Reid averages 148.3 yards a game and will be a real test for the Hawkeye defense. Iowa's The Juggernaut and Jordan Cantseeme are the only two Big Ten running backs with a better yards per game average.
At this point, the entire nation knows Iowa's game plan. Attack with the ground game and look down field on the play action. The Hawkeyes did just that in the first half against rival Minnesota. Iowa used a steady dose of The Juggernaut and Jordan Cantseeme to break down the Gopher defenders and open up the deep pass. Hawkeye Quarterback Cody Football was able to find Jay Cotton (formerly WR #23, aka Jordan Cotton) and The Acronym (formerly WR #11, aka Kevonte Martin-Manley) deep for touchdowns. Football's third touchdown on the half came off of a play action fake to The Juggernaut and pass down field to tight end Halright Hamilton (formerly TE #82, aka Ray Hamilton).
Halright Hamilton with the touchdown grab
Minnesota, much like Iowa State, made it clear that they would sellout to stop the run. The Hawkeye running attack took a back seat to Cody Football's arm and the Iowa passing attack early on. Then, with a decent lead the Hawkeyes decided to grind the Gophers out relying on not just The Juggernaut and Cantseeme, but running back Checkmy Vine (formerly RB #5, aka Damon Bullock). Vine ripped off a 40 yard touchdown early in the second quarter when the Hawkeye rushing attack really got going. Still, it was a nailbiter of a game at the half, Iowa led early 56-0.
Running back Checkmy Vine celebrates a touchdown with quite an interesting dance
The Gophers showed signs of a comeback early in the second half. After a couple scores, Minnesota got Iowa's attention. Then, the Hawkeye defense came over Minneapolis like a dark thundercloud. The Hawkeye defense began to swarm Ta'ra Reid like a group of flying sharks. "We smelled blood in the water and air," remarked Hawkeye senior linebacker Jimmy Morris.
Gopher head coach Jerry Kill was asked about the stunning defensive display and said, "it's like there was a tornado, a hurricane and sharks flying in the air." Sharks can't live outside of water, remarked one young Daily Iowan reporter in which Kill said, "I know. That's what made it so scary."
Minnesota quarterback Ziering was found following the game and gave this quote: "It's like I totally wish I had a chainsaw and could cut myself out of that defense."
There would be no chainsaw or cutting from the stomach of a hungry Hawkeye D for young Ziering.
Iowa's smothering defense
The Hawkeyes win the game 77-14. Iowa takes home the Floyd of Rosedale for the second straight year. "I thought we played well out there," said Kirk Ferentz. "They're a good team (Minnesota), I think they were 3-1 heading into the game. Don't let the final score fool you. We may have just caught them flying under the radar a bit."
INDIVIDUAL STATS (Iowa)
C. Football 12-15 302 yards 6 TD 0 INT
R. Rudock 2-4 27 yards 0 TD 0 INT
J. Cantseeme 16 carries 175 yards 2 TD
T. Juggernaut 9 carries 129 yards 2 TD
C. Vine 3 carries 39 yards 1 TD
H. Hamilton 3 rec 59 yards 1 TD
T. Acronym 2 rec 24 yards 2 TD
M. Wilson 2 rec 73 yards 1 TD
J. Cotton 2 rec 93 yards 2 TD
C. Fijgfdreqzcgh 2 rec 49 yards 0 TD
A. Hitch 8 tackles 2 TFL
R. McSack 3 sacks
B. Boots 1 INT
Ian Zeiring completed 14 of 24 passes for 192 yards including a 75 yard strike to running back Ta'ra Reid in the third quarter. After scoring Minnesota's first touchdown both players were eaten by a flying Great White Shark and never heard from again.
LOOKING FORWARD. Hawkeyes now get into the meatier part of their schedule with the next four games against Michigan State, Ohio State, Northwestern and Wisconsin. They have a legitimate Heisman candidate in The Juggernaut and Jordan Cantseeme is also getting consideration on the late night college football discussion shows.
The Hawkeye offense has done a complete 180 from last season and offensive coordinator Greg Davis said, "we feel comfortable now with the new coaches we added over the off-season. It took awhile but this is what can happen when everybody reads the same book. Also, it helps when the sim artificial intelligence sliders and tweaked way too low and the human controller plays the EA Sports game on Freshman difficulty."
Iowa's defense is coming together at just the right time for a Big Ten run. There's still some things that need worked out. Hawkeye free safety Jon Miller (formerly FS #5, aka Tanner Miller) admitted he didn't feel he was on the same page at times. He's not in jeopardy of losing his job to John Milky just yet but the senior defender needs to play better.
Miller admits that at times he lacks awareness
Iowa stays at #22 in the latest Coaches Poll. They lead the nation in scoring (70 ppg), total offense (604 ypg), rush offense (353.8 ypg), and rush defense (19.2 ypg). Michigan State averages 34.5 points per game and is ranked 20th in the nation. The Spartan defense is second best in the country allowing only 219 yards of total offense per game. "It will be a real test," said Kirk Ferentz. The Hawkeyes and Spartans will kickoff next week.