Dec. 21, 2010
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Kirk Ferentz would probably be the first one to tell you the 2010 Iowa Hawkeyes didn't play Iowa Hawkeye football for much of November. In the spirit of the season, he'd likely acknowledge there was a lump of coal here and a lump of coal there.
However, Ferentz would also suggest to those who want to toss all of the month's efforts into the "coal" category that he doesn't agree with that assessment for Iowa's game Nov. 13 against Ohio State inside historic Kinnick Stadium. No, he offers, for the most part, that was a pretty good effort for the good guys in black and gold against a pretty good college football team.
"Just for the record, I thought the Ohio State game was a pretty competitive game. I don't think anybody walked away ashamed about that performance," Ferentz shared last Friday when he visited with the local, regional and national media assembled in the Hayden Fry Football Complex as his team was wrapping up finals week and ramping up preparations for its Dec. 28 date with Missouri in the 2010 Insight Bowl.
No. The Hawkeyes and their fans couldn't have been ashamed of that effort. Not in the least.
"Just for the record, I thought the Ohio State game was a pretty competitive game. I don't think anybody walked away ashamed about that performance."
The home team had an opportunity to defeat one of college football's elite programs. The Hawkeyes didn't trail until the final minutes of the contest and, in fact, took a 17-10 lead early in the fourth quarter when true freshman Marcus Coker crashed in from a yard out two plays after Shaun Prater's interception - Iowa's second pick of the day - and return put the ball on the Buckeyes' 26.
Short-handed defensively, Iowa still held Ohio State's high-powered offense 100 yards and 20 points below its season averages. That effort was led by two ends of the spectrum: Senior linebacker Jeremiha Hunter, who paced the team with 11 tackles, and true freshman James Morris, who collected nine stops for the fourth straight game as the UI's starting middle linebacker.
"It would have been great to win it. We wanted to win it. I felt the same way a year ago in Columbus when two pretty good teams competed hard," Ferentz added, making note of Iowa's three-point overtime loss on the road last year in a game the Hawkeyes played without their No. 1 quarterback.
There's no question that - at this moment in Big Ten football time - Big Ten teams serious about winning championships measure themselves by just one standard: Ohio State. And, as Ferentz suggests, Iowa has nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to their last two efforts against the Buckeyes. They also have nothing to be ashamed of over the last nine seasons because they compare favorably against the rest of the Big Ten during that period of time, ranking second behind OSU in total wins over league opponents.
The Ohio State game properly noted, Ferentz probably agrees with the consensus that November wasn't the best of times for the Hawkeyes and, perhaps, the Hawkeyes' ninth bowl game under the current staff and first game in 100 years against a border rival -- is an opportunity for redemption.
"No question. We didn't play very well our last time out. None of us are really thrilled about the performance in the last game. This one is a chance to get back on the field and, hopefully, play a better game," he said.
BIG TEN CONFERENCE: THE LAST NINE SEASONS
61-11 - Ohio State (7 championships)
46-26 - Iowa (2 championships)
44-28 - Michigan (2 championships)
44-28 - Wisconsin (1 championship)
41-31 - Penn State (2 championships)
34-38 - Michigan State (1 championship)
33-39 - Purdue
26-46 - Minnesota
21-51 - Illinois
13-59 - Indiana