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Wine: From Grange to Greene
Iowa a good team that's been its own worst enemy
Shonn Greene has proven to be a force to be reckoned with and will not doubt prove it again this week when the Hawkeyes travel to Indiana.
Shonn Greene has proven to be a force to be reckoned with and will not doubt prove it again this week when the Hawkeyes travel to Indiana.
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Oct. 5, 2008

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    IOWA CITY, Iowa - The Big Ten has a long history of producing great running backs. Probably the first was Red Grange of Illinois, who ran wild in the early 1920s and became known as "The Galloping Ghost."

    Others followed with equally colorful nicknames. There was Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsh and Allen "The Horse" Ameche, both of Wisconsin, and Eric "The Flea" Allen of Michigan State.


    Several Big Ten running backs, including Iowa's Nile Kinnick, won the Heisman Trophy. Ohio State's Archie Griffin won it twice.

    Yes, it's normal for the Big Ten to feature outstanding runners, but this year there is an unusually high number. Nine, including two quarterbacks, are on track to top 1,000-yards rushing for the season.

    The two best running backs in the league -- at least statistically -- met head on when Iowa played at Michigan State Saturday. MSU's Javon Ringer went into the game averaging 179.4 yards rushing per game, Iowa's Shonn Greene 133.

    The analysts and experts -- along with conventional wisdom -- told us that which ever running back had the best game would carry his team to victory. It did not work out that way.





    The season is only halfway over and things could change. Iowa is not a bad team. It is just a team that has not won close games. It is a team that to a large extent has been its own worst enemy.

    When the Hawkeyes stop beating themselves, they will benefit from Shonn Greene's talents and become be a pretty good football team.



    Greene had by far the superior performance, with 157 yards rushing in 30 carries. Ringer had only 91 yards in 25 carries. Greene clearly won the head-to-head battle, but Ringer's team won the game.

    In his first year as Iowa's starting running back, Greene has been a model of consistency, running for more than 100 yards in every game. The last three games have been his best, and the fact that Iowa lost them all leaves us shaking our heads in disbelief.

    All the great Big Ten coaches have told us that strong running games win football games. Woody Hayes preached it at Ohio State in the 1950s, Bo Schembechler confirmed it at Michigan in the 1970s, and Hayden Fry, with a string of 1,000-yard rushers, verified it at Iowa in the 1980s.

    Greene is a powerful runner with marvelous balance. He's fun to watch. If Iowa were 6-0 he would be featured on Sports Center and in the running for all-America honors. But Iowa is 3-3 and Greene is drawing little national attention.

    The season is only halfway over and things could change. Iowa is not a bad team. It is just a team that has not won close games. It is a team that to a large extent has been its own worst enemy.

    When the Hawkeyes stop beating themselves, they will benefit from Shonn Greene's talents and become be a pretty good football team.

    A good time to start would be Saturday at Indiana.


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