Sunday, October 14, 2012

Iowa wins Double OT game at Michigan State to stay undefeated in B1G Legends race

Hawkeyes Give Ferentz No. 100 in East Lansing

  • Iowa wins in 2 OTs over Michigan State for second time ('07 win @ Iowa was 34-27)
  • Iowa wins another OT game on an interception (2000 victory @ Penn State 26-23)
  • Iowa and Michigan move to 2-0 to lead B1G Legends (Michigan beat Illinois 45-0 on Saturday)
  • Iowa RB Mark Weisman runs for 116 yards for the fourth straight week over 100 yards
  • Iowa PK Mike Meyer hits four field goals, including a 42 yard kick in the second OT to take lead
  • Iowa's defense holds opponent under 400 yards for the sixth straight game to open '12
Iowa loses some games they shouldn't.  However, under Kirk Ferentz over past 13+ seasons another trend has developed.  Iowa often can win as an underdog, at home and on the road against anyone in the Big Ten.  In bowl games, Iowa has pulled out some impressive wins, as well, often as underdogs.

The latest underdog victory comes in East Lansing, as senior Greg Castillo intercepts the ball in the second overtime to give Iowa another B1G victory.  Michigan State (4-3, 1-2 B1G Legends) is the latest victim.

Throw out the ugly loss vs. Central Michigan in Week 4. The Hawkeyes hung around and pulled out an ugly 19-16 win in double overtime over the Spartans in East Lansing on Saturday.  The series in East Lansing is now 10-10-1.

"Obviously just extremely proud of our football team. It was a really hard-fought game. Both teams really competed hard; I think anybody in the stadium today could have seen that. Just really proud about the way the guys hung in there against a very good football team. It was more than 60 minutes, obviously and it took basically every player out there. And outside of the turnover, you can throw all the stats out the window. It was just a hard-fought, one of those tough games," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz 

The Hawkeyes were not projected to be in the hunt for the 2012 Legends title.  Michigan State, the defending division champions, along with Michigan and Nebraska were the three programs projected ahead of Iowa, Northwestern and Minnesota.  After Week 7 of 2012, the Hawkeyes are

At the halfway point of the regular season for Iowa, the Hawkeyes are in a position to have a good October and November run, if they can remain healthy and continue to improve week in and week out.

On his team's defensive performance...
"I think they're growing, and they played extremely hard today. It seemed like they gave a pass there each direction, but outside of that I thought they really competed and, you know, we started out in adverse circumstances and held them to 3 [points], which was a positive, and I just thought they played hard all day long," Ferentz said

"To win on the turnover there at the end...outstanding and probably have an unsung guy was really the trigger guy, really triggered this all, to get his hand on the ball. It's kind of a fitting way. It gave us the chance to get the pick."

Defense wins championships and if Iowa is going to continue in the hunt in the Big Ten in '12, the defense will continue to be leaned on.

On winning this game as a senior...
"It's huge now that we know that we've got momentum going into Penn State so it's going to be a tough task," said Castillo.

The Hawkeyes follow up the victory @ Michigan State with a game on Saturday night on the Big Ten Network at Kinnick Stadium vs. Penn State (4-2, 2-0 B1G Leaders).  The night game at Kinnick should be electric as two undefeated Big Ten teams square off.  The Hawkeyes lost in '11 @ Penn State 13-3, in a game that resembled the first half @ Michigan State.

The Hawkeyes have a lot of questions that remain, especially on offense.  Senior quarterback James Vandenberg has struggled at times each week.  "I don't care if they're home or away, the close ones are the ones that really separate the good football teams. I thought we executed very well down the stretch. We made the plays when we had to and we gave ourselves a chance," Vandenberg said.

Mark Weisman has stepped up from fullback to fill the running back position the past four weeks for Iowa, after Iowa experienced injuries of Damon Bullock and Greg Garmon were injured in the Week 3 game vs. Northern Iowa.  Weisman didn't play in overtime, but his five yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter tied the ball game up at 13-13, to send the game into overtime.

On the frustration with Iowa's offense...
"It's never good to have three and outs, but as an offense we're confident. We know that we're close. We're missing some easy plays out there, but we kept fighting. That's all you can do is just keep fighting until you get the ball."
On the big play in the fourth quarter (long pass from James Vandenberg to Keenan Davis)...

"That set a spark in us, definitely. It helped us big time. We need that, no doubt. If we don't have that, we don't have that drive," Weisman said.

On what the difference was that made the last play of the game...
"I think we were battling all day and eventually it pays off. We just kept fighting out there, giving punches, keep going and just got it done at the end," Weisman added.

On Iowa's defense...
"Defense is unbelievable out there. They're the only reason we were in the game at all. We give them more credit than anyone out there," Weisman said.

The defense kept Iowa in the game and the Hawkeyes put together enough offense.  But, special teams played a huge role in Iowa's victory.  After Michigan State took a 10-0 lead in the second quarter, Iowa returned a kickoff 87 yards to the end zone.  Sadly, a poorly timed penalty, with a late block in the back to the MSU placekicker, the return was reduced and Iowa lost four points, but the first of four Mike Meyer field goals were witnessed.

"Mike has...really turned the corner from a confidence standpoint, maturity standpoint from back in the spring. And just really started performing the way we all hoped he would. He's been good the prior two years, so we don't take it for granted, but boy, his execution was flawless," Ferentz said.

Iowa won the toss in the overtime and put Michigan State on offense.  After MSU was held to a field goal in the first overtime, Iowa's Meyer kicked a 27 yard field goal to tie the game up again at 16-16 to send the game into the second OT period.  

Iowa started on offense in the second overtime.  After the offense struggled, Meyer came on to kick a 42 yard field goal and give Iowa the first lead of the game at 19-16.  On defense, Iowa's first forced turnover of the game was the difference.

"The biggest thing is just the way our guys fought right to the end because they [Michigan State] weren't going away - that was pretty obvious - but I think our guys answered the same way - they said they weren't going away either - and it's one of those games where, you know...last guy standing.

"It was a real great effort by our guys," Ferentz said

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