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Ranking Big Ten Football’s Most Intense Coaching Rivalries in the New Alignment 7

Posted on February 23, 2011 by JA Allen

The New Big Ten Divisions for 2011.

The Big Ten expansion to twelve teams and two divisions will set the stage for more intense coaching rivalries as Division races settle into place and the terrain becomes more familiar.

The Big Ten race slid into unknown territory as the teams realigned and faced new scheduling rigors.

Obviously, greater emphasis will be placed on intra-divisional contests.

For example, it’s more important—in terms of the Big Ten race—for new coach Kevin Wilson and his Hoosiers to defeat Purdue than it does for Indiana to defeat Kirk Ferentz’s Hawkeyes since Iowa plays in another division.

How this all plays out is yet to be seen, but there will undoubtedly be familiar rivalries lighting up Saturday afternoons with new faces leading the troops on the sidelines.

It will be an exciting new beginning for all Big Ten football teams and their fans.

Legends: Teams and Head Coaches

Iowa-Kirk Ferentz; Michigan-Brady Hoke; Michigan State-Mark Dantonio; Minnesota-Jerry Kill; Nebraska-Bo Pelini; Northwestern-Pat Fitzgerald

Leaders: Teams and Head Coaches

Illinois-Ron Zook; Indiana-Kevin Wilson; Ohio State-Jim Tressel; Penn State-Joe Paterno; Purdue-Danny Hope; Wisconsin-Bret Bielema.

This is the first time since 1993 that the Big Ten has enlarged its line-up.

Each Big Ten team plays eight conference contests which includes every team in their respective division, plus three conference games outside their division called crossover contests.

In total, every Big Ten team plays twelve regular season games beginning on September 3, 2011.

Big Ten football division play concludes with the Big Ten Championship game on December 3, 2011, in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium.

A true Big Ten champion will be crowned with the best in each Division vying for the title.

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Iowa Football: Hawkeyes Taking Care of Business Against Ohio State 3

Posted on November 18, 2010 by JA Allen

Typically, the Hawkeyes seldom score a victory against the Buckeyes.

It is that time in the college football season when hope may have begun to fade for those teams whose ambitions exceeded their ability to deliver—whose luck has run out.

Often, it is hard not to relive those accumulated missed tackles, extra points and dropped passes.

This inclination might allow disappointment to saturate a team’s outlook in the one or two remaining games because winning now seems not to make a difference.

A single victory cannot take you to that pinnacle you imagined in your future at the beginning of the season.

This is a state of mind that a good coaching staff immediately nips in the bud because every time a college football team walks out on the field, the players make a statement about themselves, their program and the school.

Ending well is every bit as important as beginning well. Kirk Ferentz and staff will bring that point home.

As to the charge of being a “spoiler,” winning games is the goal each and every game during the entire season. Iowa has as much to play for against Ohio State as they did against Northwestern.

Each week the team that wins, is a spoiler.

So being called one now is redundant. Every contest this weekend will celebrate some spoiler’s victory at the end of the game.

The goal to win is exactly what will inspire the Iowa Hawkeyes to upend the Ohio State Buckeyes in Week 12.

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Iowa Vs. Michigan, 8 Classic Gridiron Clashes, Part 2 3

Posted on October 15, 2010 by JA Allen

Part Two: The Final Four Fantastic Finishes

Running back Fred Russell carries the ball for Iowa.

When Iowa travels to Ann Arbor on Saturday, they will face this season’s most impressive offensive force to date, all packed into one player—Michigan’s Denard Robinson.

Even in defeat against Michigan State last weekend, Wolverine quarterback Robinson still managed to generate more than 300 yards of offense. This was billed as “containing him.”

Michigan’s offensive prowess will be pitted against the Hawkeyes’ highly ranked defense in what promises to be an intense struggle on the front lines.

The difference in the game could come be the ability of the Wolverine defense to stop Iowa on offense.

It will hopefully be another fascinating game to add more sizzle to the historical football rivalry between Iowa and Michigan as we look back over the past 30 years.

Which down-to-the-wire games have provided the most excitement during these eight gridiron classics––as the game clock ticked down while one team was making a last second charge to score for the ultimate win? You be the judge.

1990: Iowa Wins 24-23 in Ann Arbor on October 20

Iowa place-kicker Jeff Skillett helped Iowa win in 1990.

Iowa was coming off a losing season in 1989, as the bloom was definitely off the rose and the earlier glory days of the 1980s seemed to fade.

Yet Iowa was beginning to climb out of their recent funk and into the limelight, coming into Michigan with a 4-1 record and a ranking of No. 23.

Hope blossoms eternally for Hawkeyes and their fans.

No. 10 Michigan was waiting to fulfill their own destiny, which for them necessitated putting down the Iowa Hawkeyes.

It did not look good early for the Iowa faithful as Michigan built a 14-7 halftime lead.

When Michigan, led by quarterback Elvis Grbac, seemed to be cruising, taking a 20-10 lead in the third quarter, Iowa roared back, putting on their defensive brakes.

The Hawkeyes shut down the Michigan offense—holding them to three first downs in the second half.

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Iowa vs. Penn State: The Best Rivalry in Big Ten College Football, Part 2 13

Posted on September 30, 2010 by JA Allen

Part 2

Iowa vs. Penn State 2002.

2002: Iowa 42, Penn State 35 (1 OT)

The Date: 9/22/2002. The Place: Beaver Stadium. The Coaches: Kirk Ferentz vs. Joe Paterno.

Once again, the Nittany Lions seemed to underestimate the Hawkeyes in the fan-friendly environs of Beaver Stadium.

The Nittany Lions were such gregarious hosts that they spotted the lower-ranked, unanimously anointed underdog Hawkeyes three touchdowns.

As the game progressed, coach Joe Paterno suffered that sinking feeling once again. It appeared that his team had forgotten how to execute simple pass patterns, and how to run between tacklers.

Penn State turned the ball over twice in the first 22 minutes––giving the Hawkeyes two touchdowns and the Nittany Lions their worst first-quarter performance in almost a decade.

At halftime, Penn State was down, 26-7.

Then, all at once, the Nittany Lions sprung to life with a little over seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. They were down, 35-13, at that point.

Penn State stormed back, scoring 22 points to force the game into overtime.

Big Lion tailback Larry Johnson got things rolling when he nabbed a screen pass from quarterback Zack Mills, rambling 36 yards for a touchdown.

Some real heroics and gutsy play sealed the comeback for the Nittany Lions, who tied it up to the chagrin of the Iowa team and their fans.

The Hawkeyes had figured—somewhat prematurely—that they had done enough to win this game in Happy Valley.

Now, there was more to do in overtime. But the Hawkeyes did it.

Under fire, Iowa quarterback Brad Banks threw a six-yard completion to C.J. Jones to take the Hawkeyes up 42-35. This time Penn State could not answer the call, and the game ended.

Once again, the underrated Hawkeyes defeated Penn State in Beaver Stadium.

Iowa had outstanding play on the afternoon by running back Fred Russell, who amassed 142 hard-earned rushing yards, and by vaunted tight end Dallas Clark, who caught four passes for 88 yards and seemed to own the center of the field.

As Joe Paterno chased officials off the field, complaining about certain calls, the curtain fell on another heart-stopper between Penn State and Iowa.

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Iowa Vs. Penn State: The Best Rivalry in Big Ten College Football, Part 1 17

Posted on September 27, 2010 by JA Allen

IA QB Ricky Stanzi celebrates 24-23 victory over Penn State.

The Iowa vs. Penn State rivalry in college football has ballooned in importance, especially in recent years as Iowa continues to roll out one impressive football team after another.

Penn State has the storied football past, having cemented its place in the upper echelons of successful college football programs.

In the early years, Penn State owned Iowa, winning five of their first seven meetings.

Iowa won twice prior to 1980, in 1930 and again in 1976.

Many felt Penn State would dominate the conference when the Nittany Lions became a full-fledged member of the Big Ten in 1993. After all, Penn State had won National Championships in 1982 and again in 1986.

The Lions did win the Big Ten conference title in 1994 with a perfect 12-0 season. They won it again in 2005, going 11-1, and in 2008 when they tied for first place with Ohio State. The Nittany Lions’ only conference loss in 2008 came against the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Dallas Clark of the Iowa Hawkeyes Football Team.

During the Hayden Fry years (1979-98), Iowa played Penn State six times, twice in 1983-1984 when Penn State was an Independent, and four times as Big Ten opponents. Iowa won twice, in 1983 and then again in 1996.

When Kirk Ferentz came to Iowa, the dominance by Penn State began to wane.

In fact, in the nine times the two teams have met during the Ferentz era at Iowa (1999-present), the Hawkeyes hold a decided advantage, winning seven of nine or 78 percent of the games played.

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Iowa Hawkeyes Football: Top 10 Keys to Defeating Eastern Illinois 5

Posted on September 01, 2010 by JA Allen

Iowa opens the season at home against Eastern Illinois.

As you watch the University of Iowa’s football team take the field Saturday at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City against the Eastern Illinois Panthers, you need to gauge the Hawkeye’s success by looking at the following factors:

(1) The State of Mind of Quarterback Ricky Stanzi

Last year in their opener against Northern Iowa, the Hawkeyes trailed 10-3 at halftime.  The coaching staff sweated bullets.  These Northern Iowa Panthers were not patsies.

In the third quarter Northern Iowa extended their lead 13-3.  Stanzi’s back was against the proverbial wall when he marched the offense 70 yards in six plays to score, reducing Northern Iowa’s lead to three.

The reinvigorated offense under Stanzi’s leadership took charge in the fourth quarter.  Tony Moeaki caught a six yard pass to change the score in favor of Iowa for the first time 17-13.  With 13 minutes left on the clock, all Iowa had to do was hang on for a win.

But Iowa never did things the easy way––at least not in 2009.

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