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Wine Online: Lots of Points, No Victory Very Odd
Hawkeyes came up short Saturday despite big offensive number
James Vandenberg was solid in his second appearance in Jack Trice Stadium.
James Vandenberg was solid in his second appearance in Jack Trice Stadium.
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Sept. 11, 2011

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The first question that came to mind following the football game at Ames Saturday was this: When is the last time the Hawkeyes scored 41 points and lost?


A little research revealed the answer is never. In the history of Iowa football, which began in 1889 and now includes 1,144 games, this was the first time the Hawkeyes lost when scoring that many points.

The previous high was the 35 points Iowa scored at Ohio State in 1995, but that was a much different contest than the 44-41 defeat to Iowa State. The loss at Columbus was a 56-35 blowout, with the Hawkeyes scoring all their points in the second half after the outcome had been decided.

When a football team puts 41 points on the board it usually wins in a rout. That's been true in Kirk Ferentz's first 12 seasons as Iowa's head coach. His teams have scored at least 41 points 21 times. The only game that was close was a 42-35 overtime win at Penn State in 2002.





When a football team puts 41 points on the board it usually wins in a rout. That's been true in Kirk Ferentz's first 12 seasons as Iowa's head coach. His teams have scored at least 41 points 21 times. The only game that was close was a 42-35 overtime win at Penn State in 2002.


Another thing unusual about the game at Ames: Iowa lost while scoring in all four quarters and in all three overtimes. That never happened before either, because this was the first three-overtime game for the Hawkeyes. The point is this: When a team puts points on the board in every period of the game, it almost always wins, but that was not the case Saturday.

Perhaps the Hawkeyes' best moment at Ames was midway in the fourth quarter when they sustained a drive that produced a go-ahead touchdown, followed by a two-point conversion that put them up 24-17. It was a crisp 11-play, 80-yard drive that featured James Vandenberg's passes to Marvin McNutt and Keenan Davis, and strong running by Marcus Coker.

Less than six minutes remained and the game was there for the taking. The Hawkeyes needed good kickoff coverage and a stout defense, but it didn't get either. The Cyclones got a 40 yard kickoff return, then converted two third-and-long plays on their way to scoring the points that forced overtime.

Iowa's offense had some uneven moments, but it was strong at the finish. It produced leads late in the fourth quarter, and in two of the three overtimes. But on a warm, sunny day (there were no weather delays in this one) those leads melted away.

What we saw Saturday was painfully reminiscent of last season, when Iowa failed to protect late-game leads against Wisconsin, Northwestern and Ohio State, losing the three games by a total of eight points. At Iowa State Saturday, the home team scored touchdowns on each of its last four possessions. Three wiped out Hawkeye leads.

Iowa's kickers had another good day. Mike Meyer booted four field goals, including two from 50 and 42 yards. He's now 6-for-6 on the season. Eric Guthrie averaged 47 yards on four punts.

The Hawkeyes committed only one turnover, but that was a costly fumble at their own 12-yard line that gave Iowa State a quick touchdown. The Cyclones won despite 11 penalties (one nullified a touchdown), three lost fumbles and two missed field goals.

An optimist might point to Iowa's 2002 loss to Iowa State when the Cyclones overcame a 17-point deficit to win 36-31. That was the only regular-season defeat in a Big Ten championship season for the Hawkeyes.

Could that happen again? It's a long shot. This Iowa team has 12 new starters, and many of the players they replaced are now in the NFL, meaning they were very good as collegians.

Ferentz says his current Hawkeyes "play hard, they just need to play better. We have a lot of things to clean up." The coaches and players will be working on that this week, preparing to face a good Pittsburgh team at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday.

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