Sunday, September 2, 2018

Week 1: Iowa 33, Northern Illinois 7, as Hawkeye head coach Kirk Ferentz wins 144th game

Kirk Ferentz wins 144th game at Iowa on Saturday, in a 33-7 win over NIU.
Iowa City, IA --- Kirk Ferentz went into the University of Iowa record books on Saturday, as the winning-est head coach in football, passing Hayden Fry, as KF notched his 144th win, in a 33-7 victory for Iowa (1-0) over Northern Illinois (0-1) at Kinnick Stadium.

The North End-zone project at Iowa made its debut in the season
opener. Construction will not be complete next summer, but the
new look appears to make Kinnick Stadium a better place for
football and fans.
Kirk Ferentz's first win at Iowa in 1999, and his 144th win to open the 2018 College Football season were both against Northern Illinois Huskies. 

Kirk Ferentz heading into Kinnick Stadium
ahead of Saturday's game against NIU.
Like the 2017 season, the University of Iowa enjoyed the second season of the "Iowa wave" which takes place between the first and second quarter of each game. The Hawkeyes, Huskies, game officials and fans all took time to wave to the patients at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital.

Like the first win, Iowa took a 3-0 lead into halftime. At one point, the score stood at 24-0, just like the final score in his first victory at Iowa. But, on Saturday, his defense rose up to force a safety, to move the score to 26-0. The final score for Iowa came from the second unit, as QB redshirt freshman Payton Mansell made his first debut in relief for junior QB Nate Stanley. NIU closed on the game, avoiding a shutout, with a touchdown against the Iowa second team defense.

Iowa was without four players, two starting offensive tackles and two defensive tackles, due to suspensions. NIU was without players of their own, due to a suspension and a couple of injuries. It showed at times for both teams.

It was a competitive game much of the first half. But, Iowa came out in the second half and established the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, in the third quarter.
Iowa went on to outscore NIU 30-7 in the second half, fueled by a solid ground attack that went for over 200 yards on the day for the Hawkeyes.

The Iowa defense stepped up with five sacks on the afternoon.  The Hawkeyes replaced their top four linebackers from last season. The defense also got into the scoring, after the offense put up the first 24 points on the afternoon.

The Hawkeyes showed a lot of enthusiasm through early mistakes on Saturday. Clearly, the players appeared happy to be back on the gridiron. The Hawkeyes will be back in Kinnick Stadium this Saturday, as the Iowa State Cyclones (0-0) will come to Iowa City for the annual Cy-Hawk Trophy game. The Cyclones, along with the Nebraska Cornhuskers (0-0), had their opening game canceled due to thunderstorms on Saturday night. Iowa gets both programs at Kinnick this season.

The Hawkeyes are back, as a young Iowa team, with on thirteen seniors made
their way back into Kinnick Stadium for the 2018 season opener against NIU.
One of the seniors who emerged on Saturday was senior MLB Jack Hockaday, who entered the game in relief of junior starting MLB Amani Jones, who struggled in his first start. Hockaday went on to record five tackles on the afternoon.

Jack Hockaday, Nick Niemann
Senior MLB 48 Jack Hockaday and sophomore OLB 49 Nick
Niemann both emerged with strong performances in the new LB
unit, that was replacing their Top 4 performers from a year ago.

"Game action is always different than practice," Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. "When you have so many young players playing and guys in first-time situations, you learn more about the guys on the game field.
"Jack stepped in and did a really nice job; that was great to see."

The Hawkeyes face a challenging 12 game schedule in 2018. One down, eleven to go, with two in-state opponents ahead, before the Big Ten season kicks off against the defending West division champion, Wisconsin Badgers (1-0).

Image result for Iowa football schedule
The first of seven home games are in the books for the Iowa Hawkeyes in 2018.
Hawkeye fans have been excited about the September slate of games for the Hawks, and the Big Ten season opener to finish out the month of the September is the biggest of them all.
Over the past 20 seasons in Iowa City. Not everyone has been equal in their joy of the accomplishments under Kirk Ferentz. In 2012, Iowa finished the season 4-8. In the opening game of the 2013 season, the Hawkeyes lost 30-27 to Northern Illinois, as head coach Rod Carey notched his first win, as a head coach. It wasn't the case on Saturday. Ferentz got the W to kick off the new season.

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