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Wine Online: A Bye Week Bonus
George Wine looks back on the Iowa-Michigan game of 1985 as its 25th anniversary nears
Kirk Ferentz is expecting another classic against Michigan Saturday. Maybe not one of the stature of 1985, but another really tough football game against a great opponent.
Kirk Ferentz is expecting another classic against Michigan Saturday. Maybe not one of the stature of 1985, but another really tough football game against a great opponent.
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Oct. 13, 2010



Editor's Note: George Wine did as any retired contributor to a world wide web site has the right to do on a bye week during the football season last weekend: He, too, took a "bye." To fill that void, the editors of hawkeyesports.com stole two pages from his book, "Black and Gold Memories" and a piece George authored 15 years ago on the 10th anniversary of the 1985 Iowa-Michigan football game, an event that stands apart from most among those that follow Hawkeye football and will be talked about often this weekend as the Iowa football team travels to Ann Arbor, Mich., for a date with the Wolverines just days before the 25th anniversary of this historic college football event.

IOWA CITY, Iowa --Has it really been 10 years? Has that much time passed since the Hawkeyes, ranked No. 1 in college football, hosted Michigan, ranked No. 2?

The records say that game was played on October 19, 1985, at Kinnick Stadium before a capacity crowd of 66,350. Hard to believe, but that was a decade ago.



My own recollections of that week focus on the question: How was I going to fit all those folks who wanted to cover the game into the press box? While Hayden Fry was formulating his game plan and preparing his team for the biggest game he had ever coached at Iowa, I was worried about press box space.

Funny how we all have our own priorities. But I had never been through a space crunch like this one, and I never experienced one like it again.

Brent Musberger, Dick Vermeil and what seemed like a CBS-TV crew of thousands were there, every major daily newspaper in the Midwest was there, many publications in the USA were there, and every bowl had representatives there.

Somehow, I got them all in the press box.

The kickoff was moved to 2:40 p.m. to accommodate television. The nation was eager to watch this match-up of Hayden Fry versus Bo Schembechler--the new kid on the block versus the establishment. The winner of this game would have a leg up on the Big Ten title and perhaps the national championship. Because of the late kickoff, Musco lighting was brought in and for the first time since it was built in 1929, Kinnick Stadium was illuminated. Musco set up at midweek and ran a test after dark, lighting up the whole west side of town.

How much pre-game excitement could we stand?





The atmosphere was almost surreal as Houghtlin booted the ball up into the darkness. It was nearly 6 o'clock and the sky was black. There was no time on the clock as the ball sailed between the uprights. The stadium exploded. The bad call did not beat us.


Some games do not live up to their hype, but this one did, and then some. The game started in good football weather, 60 degrees with a light wind from the north. Because we had a better passing game than Michigan, we were hoping forecasters were wrong about the chance of rain. They were.

These things about the game stick out in my mind:

  • With no score in the second quarter, Chuck Long completed a pass to Scott Helverson in the back of the south end zone. An official ruled Helverson was out of bounds, but TV replays showed it should have been a touchdown. "Is a bad call going to cost us the game?" I wondered. Rob Houghtlin kicked a 35-yard field goal on the next play.

  • At halftime, Iowa had out-gained Michigan by a two-to-one margin and had a two-to-one advantage in possession time. But Michigan was leading 7-6 and I wondered, "Is that bad call going to beat us?"

  • With six minutes left in the game, Michigan had a 10-9 lead and a third-and-two on its own 35. On a play over right guard, Jamie Morris was thrown for a two-yard loss by Larry Station. Morris said later, "Just before the snap Larry Station was looking right into my eyes. I should have called a timeout."

  • Iowa took the punt at its own 22, and converted three third-down plays to put the ball at the Michigan 12. With a few seconds left Iowa called a timeout to set up for a field goal. Then Michigan called a timeout. "They're trying to ice you," Hayden chuckled to his kicker.

  • The atmosphere was almost surreal as Houghtlin booted the ball up into the darkness. It was nearly 6 o'clock and the sky was black. There was no time on the clock as the ball sailed between the uprights. The stadium exploded. The bad call did not beat us.

  • The Hawkeyes poured from the west sideline and jumped all over Houghtlin and his holder, Mark Vlasic, who was buried under a mass of humanity and twisted his knee, putting him out of action for a couple weeks.

  • The final stats showed Iowa had an advantage in first downs 16-9, total yardage 422-182, and possession minutes 38-22. I thought, "We should have won by two or three touchdowns." But that would not have made this one of Iowa's epic games.

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