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Wine: A Little About Fumbles, Then Some Humor
Coaches expect to have fumbles, but when the come in bunches...
Ricky Stanzi had a very good afternoon Saturday in his first start against a Big Ten opponent but could get the Hawkeyes over the hump created by sloppy ball handling.
Ricky Stanzi had a very good afternoon Saturday in his first start against a Big Ten opponent but could get the Hawkeyes over the hump created by sloppy ball handling.
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Sept. 28, 2008

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    IOWA CITY, Iowa - Back in August I suggested three ways for the Hawkeyes to enjoy a successful football season: (1) win close games, (2) win when favored, and (3) win at Kinnick Stadium.

    Saturday they failed on all three.

    Five turnovers were costly in a Homecoming loss to Northwestern, and this week the buzz is about fumbles, not quarterbacks.



    A fumbled snap, a fumbled punt, a fumbled kickoff and a fumble that knocked Shonn Green, Iowa's most potent offensive weapon, out of the game.

    They all added up to a crushing 22-17 defeat.

    Coaches tell us that fumbles, like injuries and penalties, are part of the game. They expect them from time to time. But when they come in large numbers they're like an avalanche from which there is no escape.

    And fumbles are unpredictable.

    The Hawkeyes played Iowa State on a rainy day when the field was slick and the ball was wet. And neither team lost a fumble.

    Two weeks later, playing Northwestern in ideal conditions on a gorgeous day, Iowa fumbled four times and lost them all.

    Go figure. That's what Iowa's coaches, players and fans will be doing this week as they look ahead to the first Big Ten road test of the season at Michigan State.

    At this point, it might be good therapy for us all to recall a game Iowa played at Spartan Stadium 48 years ago. The game was also played a week after the Hawkeyes faced Northwestern, and it involved fumbles. One changed the game in Iowa's favor.

    Did it ever!





    Coaches tell us that fumbles, like injuries and penalties, are part of the game. They expect them from time to time. But when they come in large numbers they're like an avalanche from which there is no escape.

    And fumbles are unpredictable.



    On Oct. 8, 1960, some 75,000 fans jammed Spartan Stadium to jeer the Hawkeyes, the dominate team in the Big Ten under Forest Evashevski, who was coaching his final season.

    Iowa held a 14-0 lead at halftime, but Michigan State came on strong after intermission and led 15-14 with five minutes remaining.

    When the Spartans recovered a Joe Williams fumble at Iowa's 38-yard line, the big crowd roared its approval. MSU fans were chalking this one up in the win column as they watched their Spartans run out the clock.

    Imagine their shock when the ball popped out of the hands of the MSU tailback and into the arms of Williams, who raced 67 yards for an Iowa touchdown. In two minutes Williams had gone from goat to hero.





    Iowa's game next Saturday at Michigan State will kick off at 11 a.m. Iowa time and will be televised live by ESPN2.


    There was still time for Michigan State to pull this one out, but after Bernie Wyatt intercepted a Spartan pass, Wilburn Hollis ran 23 yards straight up the middle for another Iowa touchdown.

    In a span of 53 seconds, Iowa had scored twice to win the game 27-15.

    The late Ivor Stanley, who covered the opponent's locker room for the Cedar Rapids Gazette, told me that he put this question to MSU Coach Duffy Daugherty: "Duffy, what was the turning point in this game?"

    I don't know if he really did, but it's a good way to end this story because it gives us a chuckle when we badly need one.



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