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Sleepless in North Liberty

I didn’t want to go to sleep last Saturday night.
After Iowa’s stunning 21-10 comeback victory over fifth-ranked Penn State, I didn’t want that good feeling to end.
109,000 fans all dressed for the whiteout (minus about 3,000 wearing black and gold), pouring rain all day and all during the game, the Nittany Lions jumping out to a 10-0 lead and everybody, that is everyone outside the state of Iowa picking Penn State to avenge the 24-23 loss from last year.
The game day crew of Desmond Howard and Lee Corso all picked Joe Pa’s team to win. In the local newspapers, three of the four Press-Citizen sports writers picked the Lions (Andy Hamilton went for the Hawks).
In the Gazette, three went for State, three for the Hawks including my main man Bob Brooks, who like me, always picks Iowa. The Hawkeyes haven’t gone undefeated since 1922 but as Bob and I agree “never go against the family!”
One of my homeboys, Aaron “Big Monk” Leonard said it best of the non-believers right before kickoff, “They aren’t playing the game.”
Where do you start? The defense, of course.
What a show!
Can you say dominate? I think you can.
After Penn State caught Iowa off guard with a 79-yard touchdown pass on its first possession, the Hawks held the Lions to 228 total yards, including 109 yards rushing on 33 attempts. That’s a 3.3 yard average.
The Nittany Lions had -6 total yards in the second quarter.
You want some individual stars?
How about Pat Angerer?
The 6-1, 235 pound senior linebacker from Bettendorf had 14 tackles, one interception, one tipped pass and one forced fumble.
“They are a great team,” said Pat. “They’ve got a lot of great players, we respect them, we respect the way they play football, they play football right and they have a lot of great players.”
Pat was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the week for his play.
How about Adrian Clayborn who had the game-changing moment with a blocked punt in the fourth quarter and returned it 53 yards for a score.
Adrian was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the week for that great play.
Adrian and the rest of the front four have stepped up their game in the last two weeks and Iowa cashed in with a safety, three interceptions and a fumble recovery Saturday night.
“Our starting four got together last week and we said to ourselves that we got the wins but we know we haven’t played how we needed to play in the Big Ten,” said Adrian. “We talked about it and got it done.”
Broderick Binns came up with another big play, forcing a fumble by Penn State that resulted in a safety. BB also had eight tackles, two-and-a-half tackles for a loss, one-and-a-half sacks and a pass breakup.
Karl Klug had a huge fumble recovery in the fourth quarter to go along with six tackles and a sack with Broderick.
A.J. Edds and Shaun Prater had the other two interceptions as Iowa hasn’t given up a rushing touchdown in 29 quarters. That goes back to the Penn State game last year.
I thought the defense could be pretty good, but they are looking real good so far and the nice thing is there are only two seniors on the starting 11.
Ryan Donahue and Daniel Murray continue to shine on special teams.
Ryan averaged 35.6 yards per punt but pinned the Lions inside the 20 twice including once on the 5 which resulted in a safety.
Daniel was 2-3 in field goals including his last one from 31 yards with eight seconds left to ice the game.
Talk about deja-vü all over again…
The offense struggled with some dropped passes, a couple of interceptions that were both tipped and a lack of rhythm, but stepped up when it counted.
I really like the one-two punch of Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegner.
What a great touchdown run in the fourth quarter by Adam to give Iowa an 18-11 lead.
The ball was on the 13-yard-line and Adam went right, was stopped, broke two tackles and bounced it outside for the score. Eighty-eight yards in 19 carries is not bad against a good Penn State defense.
Brandon broke off an early 28-yard run and finished with 73 tough yards. He also returned a kickoff 25 yards.
“Both of those guys are tough guys,” said the head man Kirk Ferentz. “For guys that young, that inexperienced to play with that kind of poise and awareness, that’s pretty impressive. I’m really pleased with them and I thought our line competed out there, too.”
Rick Stanzi had a soggy outing, going 11-26 with two picks but came through when needed.
“I thought we saw a lot of great efforts out there,” said captain Kirk. “That was the story of the game. I thought each and every one of our guys competed extremely hard. Penn State was competing hard too… that was a great football game.”
One of the great things about this Iowa team is a lot of times the team will reflect their coach, who is one of the classiest people on or off the field that you will ever meet.
I did a story on Pat Angerer last summer and he is one of the more laid back guys I have ever talked to, but when the whistle blows…
Adam Robinson, Ryan Donahue, Rick Stanzi…all good people.
There is a great story in last Saturday’s Press Citizen about a four-year-old girl, Jenna Waters, who has cancer. Rick and some of his teammates have visited her. Rick wears a “Pray for Jenna “ pink bracelet on and off the field for the little lady.
Rick could have been a little miffed at some of the dropped passes but that wasn’t the case.
“Rick doesn’t get down, period,” said the coach. “He’s a great team guy. I can’t say enough about his attitude.”
Iowa starts the season with a nail-biter, winning 17-16 over UNI. They follow up with a dominating 35-3 victory over arch rival Iowa State. Their third game was a solid 27-17 home win over Arizona and then the washout at Happy Valley.
Stop the madness as Iowa is ranked 13th in the AP poll. It’s about time.
I don’t know if Iowa can run the table but if they can just get by Arkansas State next week at Kinnick…