Dec. 26, 2010
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It's been 66 catches and 35 pounds ago since University of Iowa tight end Allen Reisner replaced a red shirt with a black and gold one, suited up against Indiana on Sept. 29, 2007, and officially kicked off his collegiate football career.
With a victory over No. 14 Missouri in Tuesday's Insight Bowl, Reisner and 24 other Iowa seniors will become the first class to exit with three consecutive bowl victories.
"We're working toward that," Reisner said Sunday at a media day press conference at the Camelback Inn in Scottsdale. "That's our goal to get a win wearing the black and gold for the last time."
Reisner sat out the first four games of the 2007 season and then played against Indiana, catching a 25-yard pass during a 38-20 loss to the Hooisers in Kinnick Stadium.
"I had no idea what was going on," Reisner said. "I was trying to do all I could; it wasn't a lot, but I was trying to fill a spot for the seven to 10 snaps I was going to get from the double tight end set. It was a great experience -- after that first catch, I got up and I was still shaking from it because I was so excited -- the crowd roar was huge."
Reisner and the Hawkeyes have heard plenty of loud roars over the past four seasons -- winning 33 games and capturing titles in the Outback and Orange bowls.
"We've got a great group of seniors -- it's our largest class with 25 guys," UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said. "They have been engaged, positive, they've been good role models all year long and they've done a good job this month, too. It all starts with your leadership base and the guys have done a nice job."
Senior defensive tackle Karl Klug, owner of 24 tackles for loss the past two seasons, said the Hawkeyes "need to win" the Insight Bowl.
"We definitely don't want to end it with a four-game losing streak," Klug said. "We're moving past that bump in the road and we're working forward to playing Missouri."
The highlight of Paki O'Meara's Hawkeye career has been reveling after bowl victories in Tampa and Miami. He would like to add a postgame jig in Tempe, Ariz., as well.
"My best memories are celebrating right after the games -- running around on the field with all the guys, knowing that all the hard work you've put in is paying off," O'Meara said. "Hopefully we'll have another one of those."
Senior linebacker Jeremiha Hunter recognizes that, win or lose, the Hawkeye Class of 2010 will always recollect the outcome of Tuesday's contest.
"We want to come out and get after it and finish the season strong," he said. "We're going to remember this game for the rest of our lives, so it's big to go out with a win."
The current group of Iowa seniors has enjoyed a stretch of 13 wins in a row (Nov. 8, 2008 to Oct. 31, 2009) and struggled through four losses in a row (Sept. 15 to Oct. 6, 2007) -- some high highs and some low lows. And united they stood.
"You spend so much time with all these guys and we've worked so hard," said senior long snapper Andy Schulze. "It speaks a lot about the guys that are in this room and how much we care about each other, how hard we work and how important it is for everyone to stick together."
Iowa (7-5 overall) plays Missouri (10-2) on Dec. 28, with a 9 p.m. start (CT) in the Insight Bowl. The game will be played in Sun Devil Stadium (56,000) on the Arizona State campus and televised nationally by ESPN (HD).
"We would love to win for two reasons," Ferentz said. "No. 1, it's what you set out to do and it would be a great way to send a great group of seniors off, and secondly, it puts a positive spin on the next calendar year, too. It's all good when you win."
The Hawkeyes completed their final practice Sunday at Corona del Sol High School in Tempe.