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Miller Time: Michigan Postgame

Miller Time: Michigan Postgame

10/27/2002 by Jon Miller of Hawkeye Nation

 

I have been enjoying the past few Sunday’s where I just sit down and start typing anything that comes into my head, and I hope that some of you enjoy it as well. I guess this is the ‘MillerTime’ column of old coming back around.

We will call it ‘Streams of Consciousness’, not conscience as I called it the first week. Was that a malaprop? I don’t know either.

Here we go.

Bully for Notre Dame, they are winning as well. But for the love of Saint Pete, enough already. I heard one of their radio announcers being interviewed on ESPN radio yesterday, saying that the turnaround by Notre Dame this season from where it had been in the last few seasons was the most miraculous turn around he has ever seen or heard about.

Please.

In the last three years, the Irish have gone 5-6, 9-2 and 5-7. It is easier to recruit to Notre Dame than in any other school in America. And this guy is calling an 8-0 start from a 5-6 season the biggest turnaround he has ever seen?

I know some of you might like Notre Dame. I don’t, and comments like this one is part of the reason why.

SPEAKING OF TURNAROUNDS, how about Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa Hawkeyes. This is Ferentz’s fourth year as the Iowa head man and his team is 8-1 and 5-0 in the Big Ten.

I almost have to pinch myself to make sure that I am not dreaming all of this, given the fact that Iowa is just two seasons removed from 3-9 and three years removed from 1-10 and 0-8 in the Big Ten.

This Iowa team has a legitimate chance to go 11-1, with home games remaining against a dangerous but not dominant Wisconsin team, a poor Northwestern squad.

Then, the season finale in Minneapolis against the hated and much improved Golden Gophers for Floyd of Rosedale will be a slobberknocker.

But I am not talking fair tale here to think that Iowa could go 3-0 the rest of the way and finish the B10 a perfect 8-0 and set a school record for most wins in a season.

This team is probably already deserving of mention among the best Iowa football teams of all-time.

Those teams didn’t trip in games against inferior teams. That is the challenge that Iowa has the rest of the way. How do you stay focused for Wisconsin after just whooping Michigan at the Big House?

That is a huge coaching challenge in itself this week.

# # # # # # # # # # #

OK, I said that this Iowa team should be mentioned with the other all-time great Iowa teams.

How about some stats to back that statement up?

Iowa is averaging 37.8 points per game through nine games. The 1985 Iowa Hawkeyes averaged 36.7 points per game over a 12 game season (including the Rose Bowl).

This team is averaging 427.8 yards per game and if they ended the season at that mark, it would be the 6th highest average total in Iowa history.

Iowa’s defense in 1981 was ‘steel curtain-like’ against the run, setting the Iowa standard for stinginess, allowing opponents just 79.7 yards per game on the ground.(956 for the season)

The 2002 Iowa Hawkeyes are on pace to obliterate that mark. With four games to go (including Bowl game), Iowa is allowing just 62.3 yards per game on the ground, or 561 total rushing yards. If Iowa allows 98.7 yards per game on the ground the rest of this season, they would eclipse the mark set by the 1981 defense not only in yards allowed per game, but in total yards allowed.

Oh by the way, the 2002 Hawkeyes will have played one more game than their 1981 counterparts.

Wow.

I said before the season started that I expected this offense to average better than 5.0 yards per carry, NET, for the season. I said it on a few radio shows and people thought I was nuts. Right now, the Hawkeyes are averaging 5.0 yards per carry, NET. Two of the three teams they face the rest of the way in the regular season are not exactly tough against the run.

With Fred Russell and the new star, Jermelle Lewis looking like a fearsome tandem, I think there is a very good chance for Iowa to top 200 yards rushing in at least two of the three remaining regular season games.

Speaking of the Iowa defense, I just could not get enough of that defense yesterday. They were so fun to watch, I almost wish they would have let Michigan get a couple more first downs, sort of like a cat playing with a mouse, just to watch Howard Hodges, Colin Cole, Jared Clauss, Matt Roth and Jonathon Babineaux rush the pass.

Or watch Kevin Worthy, Fred Barr or Grant Steen perfectly defend the Michigan flats. (By the way, I said in my preview that Michigan’s propensity to throw the RB screen did not concern me, as this Iowa defense covers the screen as well as any team I have seen).

Bob Sanders, DJ Johnson, Derek Pagel and Antwan Allen looked outstanding as well. It was a beauty to behold.

I mean come on, even the most optimistic Iowa fan could not have expected Iowa to hold Michigan to just 12 first downs, 22 yards rushing and 149 yards passing for the game?

This has to rank up there with one of the best showings by an Iowa team in a big game. This was the biggest Iowa football game in at least five years and possibly since the Iowa Michigan game in 1990 or 1991.

This was the Big House. This was Michigan. And Iowa had the football for nearly 16 more minutes than did the Wolverines? Iowa coolly converted 9 of its 18 third down attempts in front of 111,000+ fans, the largest crowd to ever watch an Iowa football game and the homestanding Wolverines were just 5 of 15 on third down? Iowa ran 19 more plays than mighty Michigan?

The 2002 Iowa win over Michigan might be remembered as fondly as the 1990 win over Illinois. Iowa dominated each game on the way to the Rose Bowl. Beating Illinois like that is always fun. But beating Michigan the way that Iowa beat Michigan AT THEIR PLACE this week is about like your chances of seeing Haley’s comet. This might have been a once in a lifetime thing for all of us, no matter if we are 10 or 80 years old.

Enjoy it.

# # # # # # # # # # #

Enjoy it, but don’t think for a second that there will not be more moments like this down the road.

That is what is darn exciting about Iowa football right now. Kirk Ferentz built this program from the trenches out and the trenches are going to have some good players in them next year as well.

In less that four seasons, Kirk Ferentz has taken the program he inherited at one of its lowest points to being on the verge of possibly its brightest moment.

That is truly remarkable. He has built the trenches to the point where they are possibly the most physical in the nation. He and his staff have gone from coaching the 98-pound weaklings to now being the sand kickers and bullies of the Big Ten.

But don’t expect the Hawkeyes to be one hit wonders. Ferentz et al have built this program back to the point to where there will be a sustained level of success. I don’t expect Iowa to fall back below the seven wins per season mark anytime soon, even with the tough schedule Iowa has over the next two seasons.

It’s just hard to believe this could have happened unless we hadn’t just seen it with our own eyes.

# # # # # # # # # # #

I exorcized some demons yesterday.

The first day I ever wore my #6 Tim Dwight Iowa jersey was Iowa v Michigan, 1997. Of course, that was the last time Iowa went to Michigan and we all know that the program had not been back to that point until yesterday.

I don’t wear the Dwight jersey that much. In fact, prior to this season, it hung on my wall for two years, never being worn out.

But, with the move back to KC and with me being bound to stay in the KC metro area until our baby comes, I have been going to ‘The Other Place’ in Overland Park, KS to watch the games with my friends.

Yesterday, the ghosts were slain and the Dwight jersey was on hand. It was also on hand this year for the PSU game and for the Purdue game.

It will not make an appearance for the remained of the regular season, save possibly the Minnesota game if the Rose Bowl is on the line. I don’t want to wear out the karma.

Speaking of karma and good times, holy cow what a day we had on Saturday in Kansas City.

I don’t know how many people ‘The Other Place’ holds, but there were at least 300+ Iowa fans living it up, screaming, cheering, hugging, high fiving all day long. I suspect that at least 150 patrons were waiting outside the bar and grill for at least 30 minutes prior to it opening at 11:00a.m and 95% were Iowa fans.

When Iowa was scoring those last three touchdowns and they played the fight song, it was just a wild scene.

Now, I know that a lot of you don’t live in Kansas City (although there are a lot of Iowa Hawkeye fans down here, that is for sure).

But if you know of a local gathering spot for Iowa fans in your area away from Iowa City, let me know about it as I want to make a page for HN.com readers so they can find game watch locations.

Why?

For nothing more than the camaraderie that take place. Sure, we can watch the games on ESPN at our homes. But to be around friends, or strangers for that matter, where there is a good sized gathering of Hawkeye fans is a great thing indeed.

It makes it seem like we are right there at the game or in the stands with the other Iowa fans. And it’s just a lot of fun.

So if you have a hot spot for watching the games that you think other Iowa fans would want to know about, shoot me an email and I will spread the word.

The games are just too fun this year to watch them alone. This is a year to remember, so make sure you get every ounce of satisfaction out of it that you can.

# # # # # # # # # # #

I said this in September: October might be one of the most important months for the Iowa football program in the last decade or more.

Three of Iowa’s four games were on national television, so it was important for the Hawkeyes to come through in a big way.

They did.

Now, they are in the Top 10 in the nation (Coaches poll has Iowa 10th, the AP will probably have them 10th or 9th and they should be 10th in the BCS poll tomorrow). And they are going to reap the exposure that comes with that on the recruiting trails this winter.

I fully expect more and more blue chippers to pencil in Iowa for an official visit.

Iowa could be preparing for a New Years Day bowl come December and several recruits will be making official visits to Iowa during that time.

October of 2002 might be where Iowa ‘broke their rock’.

# # # # # # # # # # #

Great game plans by Ken O’Keefe and Norm Parker.

Last week on the various radio programs I took part in, I felt that we would see a few new plays out of Iowa this week.

We didn’t see anything too fancy, but there were some great calls in the game.

The first great call was something you knew was going to come: The deep counter route off of the wide receiver screen. Mo Brown dropped the ball and it would have been six. But a great play call. Iowa ran that play last year against Indiana, the week before the Michigan game, for a touchdown to Kahlil Hill. I felt at that time that the Hawkeyes ran the play a week early.

The other great call was the shovel pass to Lewis that went for a touchdown. Nothing exotic, but such a great play and we had not seen that yet this year.

The option play with Lewis was also another great call and Dallas Clark had a great block on that play, as did one of Iowa’s wide outs (either Brown or Jones, I can’t remember.)

Iowa also put more heat on John Navarre than he had seen all season. Navarre had been played very well coming into the Iowa game, but the Hawkeyes shut him down. Heck, they shut down everything Michigan tried to do.

If you taped that game, save it for the archives.

Brad Banks deserves a mention here. He is third in the nation in passing efficiency and it’s not a fluke. On the season, Banks has thrown 18 touchdown passes to just four interceptions. With two more TD passes, he will become just the second Iowa quarterback to throw 20 or more TD passes in a year. Chuck Long did it twice (27 & 22). Banks could challenge Long’s record of 27 in one season. He is on pace to throw 26 TD passes.

Long threw 16 INT’s in 1985, the year in which he threw those 27 TD passes. His QB rating was 153.1. Banks rating right now is 159.

Banks had one poor outing this year against Iowa State, but he did not let it bother him. Simply stated but not easily accomplished, Banks has faced the pressure since then with flying colors. Considering that this is his first season as a starter, what he is doing is even more remarkable.


Hawkeye NationHawkeye Nation was founded by Jon Miller, and later acquired by Rivals and Sports Illustrated. You can visit them at HawkeyeNation.com

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Miller Time: Michigan Postgame - Summary of Iowa football and basketball games