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Minnesota on Saturday is huge for this group of Hawkeyes
Iowa entertains Minnesota Saturday at 11 a.m. Iowa time in annual battle for Floyd of Rosedale.
Iowa entertains Minnesota Saturday at 11 a.m. Iowa time in annual battle for Floyd of Rosedale.
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Nov. 15, 2009

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    IOWA CITY, Iowa - Iowa's football team went to Ohio State Saturday and did what few thought possible. The Hawkeyes played the Buckeyes straight up and after 60 minutes there was still no decision.

    Each team had scored 24 points, and Iowa had done it with a freshman quarterback starting his first game, and a freshman running back who had missed the last two games with an ankle sprain. After four quarters of play, these two freshmen -- James Vandenberg and Adam Robinson -- had all their team's rushing yardage and Vandenberg had thrown for two touchdowns.


    With this unlikely combination in the backfield, a hostile crowd of 105,000 roaring in their ears, and an ABC television audience looking on, the Hawkeyes had somehow managed to score 24 points on an Ohio State team that was yielding an average 11.2 points per game.

    And the funny thing is -- well, maybe not so funny -- the Hawkeyes could have had more. Their receivers had uncharacteristically dropped passes, including one at the goal line, and their usually reliable kicker missed a chip-shot field goal. That's another 10 points, and wouldn't they have looked good about now?

    But the score was tied and this game went overtime, and Iowa's offense had its worst series. Three plays lost 16 yards, including the only quarterback sack of the day, and a hail-Mary pass to the end zone was intercepted.

    Given this reprieve, Ohio State ran three plays that gained two yards, then a 26-year-old man who once made a living playing professional soccer kicked a game-winning field goal. Maybe maturity is a factor in college football.

    Now here's the picture: An Iowa team that won its first nine games has now lost two straight. The regular season ends when Minnesota visits Kinnick Stadium on Saturday.





    The main thing is the Hawkeyes must forget their disappointing losses to Northwestern and Ohio State and finish strong against Minnesota. They should remind themselves that they have beaten five bowl-eligible teams, four on the road. Penn State and Wisconsin have lost a total of four games, two of them to Iowa.


    Iowa must shrug off two losses by a total of 10 points and focus on the Gophers, because a lot is riding on this game. With a victory, the Hawkeyes can become only the third team in school history to win 10 regular-season games, they can finish second in the Big Ten, they can keep Floyd of Rosedale on campus, and they can earn a very nice bowl berth.

    Which bowl would it be? Perhaps the Capitol One in Orlando, where Iowa staged the miraculous finish against LSU in 2005. Or it could be a BCS bowl.

    The main thing is the Hawkeyes must forget their disappointing losses to Northwestern and Ohio State and finish strong against Minnesota. They should remind themselves that they have beaten five bowl-eligible teams, four on the road. Penn State and Wisconsin have lost a total of four games, two of them to Iowa.

    Hawkeye seniors will be saluted Saturday as they play their last game at Kinnick Stadium. Only two seniors start on defense, linebackers Pat Angerer and A.J. Edds. Also on the depth chart are end Chad Geary, tackle Travis Meade and safety Joe Conklin.

    Four senior offensive starters are center Rafael Eubanks, tackle Kyle Calloway, tight end Tony Moaeki and wide receiver Trey Stross. Also on the depth chart are guards Andy Keumpel and Dan Doering.

    That is not a lot of seniors for a team that has won nine games and is ranked nationally. They may be few in number, but they've done a marvelous job in providing leadership and creating good chemistry for a team that has had a terrific season.

    A win over Minnesota on Saturday will make it an even better one.

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