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It don’t come easy

The headline was a song in 1971 by Ringo Starr which really tells the story about the Hawkeye football season.
The Minnesota Gophers were in town last Saturday at Kinnick Stadium and to say the game was electric would be an understatement.
The black-out crowd, the retro all-black jerseys and when they played “Back in Black” like they do to start the game, you knew it was going to be special.
I was feeling pretty good when LeShun Daniels Jr., ran for a 51-yard touchdown (a career long) to give Iowa a 40-28 lead with 2:01 left, but those stubborn Gophers scored in less than a minute, making the score 40-35.
Minnesota tried an onside kick, the ball went out of bounds, Iowa ran out the clock and became 10-0 for the first time in the history of Iowa football.
The pig is back in Iowa City and if I’m dreaming, don’t wake me up.
The game against the Gophers was one of those that the Iowa defense just couldn’t get off the field so the offense had to get the job done.
How about a season high 506 yards?
How about Iowa scoring 30 points or more in four straight Big Ten games?
That has never happened before.
So we’re going to start with the offense

Offense

I don’t know what else to say about C.J. Beathard, other than he is a winner.
You could tell he was healthier last week, until he got a hip pointer late in the game on a quarterback sneak.
Beathard ran for 56 yards... in the first half!
The junior quarterback also had a bootleg in the second quarter on the Minnesota 1-yard-line that faked out everyone so much that C.J. just walked in.
LeShun Daniels, Jr. showed why he was the number one back coming into the season. Daniels had a career day with 195 yards (7.5 yards per carry) and three touchdowns.
“LeShun really came up big today,” said Head Coach Kirk Ferentz. “I guess he’s healthy. It’s good to have him back.”
How great is it to have three backs,– LeShun, Jordan Canzeri and Akrum Wadley– who have had at least two games when they rushed for over 100 yards?
That just doesn’t happen at Iowa.
Balance was once again the key for the explosive Iowa offense.
The Hawks ran for 272 yards and passed for 234.
Matt VandeBerg led Iowa with six catches while the tight ends, George Kittle and Henry Krieger Coble, caught five and three passes respectively.
George’s five receptions were a career high.
Those two have really come through with Jake Duzey, who was Iowa’s best tight end last year, not playing much because of a knee injury and surgery last spring.
The Hawks controlled the clock again, having the ball for 35:32 while the Gophers had it for 24:28.
Iowa was also 10-15 on third down conversions.
How about the Hawks having scoring drives covering 91 and 97 yards?
That’s not easy and it’s demoralizing to a defense.

Defense

The Hawks had trouble with the Gopher offense for the second straight year.
Minnesota totaled 434 yards, including 301 yards passing.
Josey Jewell was all over the field for the second straight week with 15 tackles, including a sack, but for the most part, the pass defense had too many break downs.
Thank goodness the offense didn’t.
Jewell and Cole Fisher each had a pass breakup and Fisher had nine tackles against the Gophers.
Jewell leads the team in tackles with 90, Fisher is second with 82.

Special Teams

Marshall Koehn was 2-3 on field goals although the last one, a 48-yard attempt in the fourth quarter, looked good on the replay I watched five times.
It looked like the ball was really close to the right post but Marshall kicked it so high I don’t think the referee under the goal post got a good look at it.
Marshall had eight kickoffs and seven touchbacks.
Although Desmond King didn’t get another interception, he did make a 58-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter.
The Gophers had just scored to make it 27-21.
Iowa took the ball down to the Minnesota 1-yard-line and C.J. sneaked it in. The Hawks went for two, didn’t convert and led 33-21 with 14:30 left in the game.
Purdue is up next at Kinnick for Senior Day and thankfully it’s an 11 a.m. start.
The night games are fun but that was a long day to wait, for me, that is.
The final score was worth the wait.

Great weekend
for Iowa

It all started Friday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Hawkeye women’s basketball team opened up the season with an 83-61 win over North Dakota in the first game of the Hawkeye Challenge.
The game was close at half, 33-31, in favor of the Hawkeyes, but Iowa’s two captains helped put the Fighting Sioux away.
Kali Peschel, one of the co-captains, had her first double-double ever at half with 13 points and 10 boards. She finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds as the Hawks had a 45-31 edge on the boards.
Ally Disterhoft, the other captain, had five points in the first half and finished with 20.
Those two are going to be keys in the Hawkeye season.
Sophomores Whitney Jennings (14 points) and Christina Buttenham (10 points) also looked solid.
Freshman Megan Gustafson came off the bench with 12 points and seven rebounds. Megan plays with a lot of confidence and looks like she belongs.
Iowa followed that up on Sunday beating University of Tennessee Martin, 62-56.
This time freshman Tania Davis had 12 points off the bench, Alexa Kastanek and Ally Disterhoft each had 11.
Ally became the 34th player to score over 1,000 points for the Hawkeyes. She was named MVP of the Hawkeye Challenge.
Gustafson had another good game coming off the bench with 10 points.

Hawkeye Men’s
Basketball

The men followed the women Friday night with a 76-59 season-opening win over Gardner-Webb.
The Hawks started slow with a 41-37 halftime lead, but, like the women did, took over in the second half.
Iowa took advantage of its size as Jarrod Uthoff and Adam Woodbury scored 21 and 10 to lead the Hawks.
Iowa won the rebound battle, 46-39, and had a 28-16 advantage in the paint.
How about nine assists from Mike Gesell?
The Hawks played the last game of the weekend on Sunday after the women’s game, and smoked Coppin State, 103-68.
Dominique Uhl made his first start with Peter Jok out with a minor ankle sprain. Dom led Iowa with 18 points.
Dale Jones, a 6-8 junior college transfer, came off the bench scored 16 points and had seven rebounds. Dale was 4-6 from 3-point range.
Gesell had 12 assists (a career high) in only 19 minutes.
The Iowa bench scored 58 points.

Hawk Wrestlers Roll

I’ve got to give a big shout-out to the Iowa wrestlers and the athletic department for the Grapple on the Gridiron at Kinnick.
Not only did the Hawkeye fans smash the previous record for biggest wrestling crowd by over 25,000 (there were 42,287 at the match) but the fourth-ranked Hawks knocked off top-ranked Oklahoma, 18-16.
Thomas Gilman and Cory Clark got Iowa started with a major and a decision.
Brandon Sorensen (149) also got a decision at 149 but it was Sammy Brooks (184) who brought the crowd to its feet with a 17-2 tech fall that gave the Hawks a 15-13 lead.
Nathan Burak’s 5-3 decision at 197 finished off the Cowboys and the 42,287 fans went away happy.

What A Weekend

I’ve been covering the Hawkeye football, basketball and wrestling teams for 15 years.
I starting following the Hawks in 1963 when I was 9 years old and I don’t remember having a better weekend… even the Chicago Bears, my favorite NFL team, beat the St. Louis Rams, 37-13.
After all these years, it’s still great to be a Hawkeye!