My 10 Favorite Hawkeye Victories, Part I

This fall could be filled with many fantastic moments for Hawkeye fans, that's for sure. Moments that will be replayed and discussed for years to come. Thinking about this led me to think about some of my all-time favorite Iowa victories…in football and basketball. So, I decided to come up with my own "Top 10" favorite Iowa games.

Sure, Iowa's football schedule is a lot tougher this fall than it was a year ago. As we used to say in the early 1980s, "No duh!"

That's what happens when you trade Akron for Arizona State, Northwestern for Ohio State and Indiana for Illinois. Geez. (By the way, when did the Cubs' front office start wheeling and dealing with Iowa's schedule?)

But, there's a beauty in playing a more difficult schedule. It gives you more chances for thrilling, memorable victories that you'll talk about for the next 10 to 20 years. And that's a good thing.

The Hawkeyes have Big Ten road games at Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin. They also host Michigan, which will likely be rated in the nation's top five. Plus, former Hawk Jon Beutjer will bring Illinois to Iowa City in early November.

Not to mention the game at Ames on September 13 against a team that has -- like it or not -- owned the Hawks for the last five seasons.

This fall could be filled with many fantastic moments for Hawkeye fans, that's for sure. Moments that will be replayed and discussed for years to come.

Thinking about this led me to think about some of my all-time favorite Iowa victories…in football and basketball. So, I decided to come up with my own "Top 10" favorite Iowa games.

One caveat is that my memory of Hawkeye games goes back to late 1979, when I was 10 years old. Specifically, I remember sitting at home on a Saturday night -- December 21, 1979 -- and listening to an Iowa game on the radio with my dad when Ronnie Lester hurt his knee. I know there were several terrific victories prior to that, but those games are not eligible for this list.

Starting with No. 10, here are my Top 10 favorite Hawkeye victories...

10) Iowa 28, Tennessee 22. December 31, 1982 at Atlanta, Georgia. Iowa's first bowl game victory in 23 years came against a Tennessee team that was loaded with talent. The Volunteers had future Yankee farmhand Alan Cockrell at quarterback, future Chicago Bear Willie Gault at receiver and future NFL kicker Fuad Reveiz.

The Hawks trailed 7-0 after one quarter, but then Chuck Long took over. At halftime, Long had completed 14 of 17 passes for 231 yards and three TDs. Dave Moritz, one of Iowa's greatest over-achievers, had eight catches in the first half, including a 57-yard score. Ronnie Harmon caught the other two scoring strikes from Long. Harmon was a receiver back then, as the top two tailbacks were Owen Gill and Eddie Phillips.

Phillips scored the Hawkeyes' only touchdown of the second half, as Iowa held on for the six-point victory.

I remember how exciting it was to see Iowa actually WIN a bowl game…and how BIG a deal that seemed at the time. Of course, that was over 20 years ago and before the days of the "Super Value.com Chip Clip Bowl" and the "Fleetwood Mac Reunion Tour Bowl." It was simply the Peach Bowl and that was just fine with me.

9) Iowa 31, Purdue 28. October 5, 2002 at Iowa City. To me, this was the biggest victory of the magical 2002 season for the Hawkeyes. Not only did it have a fantastic finish (Brad Banks to Dallas Clark on fourth-and-goal), but it made it clear that this Hawkeye team was different…make that, special.

I think it gave the entire team an extra jolt of confidence that they could do just about anything. Funny how an 87-yard drive for a game-winning touchdown, when you have no timeouts and only 2:16 remaining, will do that for you.

After that Homecoming victory, nobody in the Big Ten came closer than 16 points against the Hawks. Nobody. The closest game of Iowa's final six regular-season contests was a 24-8 win over Indiana.

I think something happened after that drive against Purdue. I think the Hawks' confidence in Banks went up a notch. I think the team's overall confidence got a big boost. And I think they realized they had a chance to make 2002 a very special season.

8) Iowa 96, Michigan State 90. January 28, 1993 at East Lansing, Michigan. On January 19, 1993, one of the all-time Hawkeye greats, Chris Street, was killed in a car accident. It was one of the lowest points that I can recall as a sports fan in this great state.

Nine days later, the Hawkeyes took the floor against Michigan State and gave one of the most inspiring performances in a comeback effort that you could ever hope to see. Trailing by double-digits with a few minutes remaining, Iowa tied the game to send it to overtime and won the contest in the extra period.

The Hawkeyes came home to play Michigan that weekend and defeated the highly-ranked Wolverines in front of an emotional crowd, including Street's parents.

Iowa finished that season with a 23-9 record. The players in the rotation included Kevin Smith, Val Barnes, Acie Earl, Wade Lookingbill, James Winters, Kenyon Murray, Russ Millard and Jay Webb.

Street's jersey No. 40 was retired.

7) Iowa 10, Nebraska 7. September 12, 1981 at Iowa City. I remember sitting in our living room listening to this game on the radio. The year before, the Huskers trounced the Hawks by a 57-0 score. Nothing much was expected of this Iowa team and Nebraska was ... well, Nebraska.

But, Hayden Fry had his troops believing they could pull off the upset. Later in the season, it didn't appear to be such a surprise outcome as the Hawkeyes made it to the Rose Bowl, while the Huskers played in the Orange Bowl.

At the time, however, not very many people thought Iowa had a chance. To me, this was the game that started Hawkeye football on the way back under Coach Fry. After this victory, it appeared that anything really WAS possible.

Iowa held a 10-0 lead at halftime, thanks to a two-yard TD run by Eddie Phillips and a 35-yard FG by Lon Olejniczak. Davenport native Roger Craig scored a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to make it 10-7, but the Hawkeyes' defense stiffened after that, holding the Huskers to their lowest offensive output -- 234 yards -- of the season.

The confidence that Iowa gained in this game helped propel the Hawks to their first Rose Bowl since 1959. And Coach Fry took his Iowa teams to bowl games routinely after that.

6) Iowa 34, Michigan 9. October 26, 2002 at Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Hawkeyes improved to 8-1 overall following the butt-kicking in "The Big House." It was impossible for the nation to ignore Iowa after this game.

There have been a couple of memorable victories in Ann Arbor for the Hawks. I remember clearly the 9-7 win in 1981, with Tom Nichol kicking three field goals to lead Iowa to an upset victory during that Rose Bowl season. Then, there was the 24-23 victory in 1990 when Paul Kujawa scored the game-winning TD for Iowa during another Rose Bowl season.

But, there was never a display of domination by a Hawkeye team in Ann Arbor like there was on this day. And this was against a very good Michigan team.

C.J. Jones got the scoring started on a 39-yard TD pass from Banks. After that, the Hawkeyes remained in control. Jermelle Lewis had a big day, running for 109 yards and catching a 23-yard TD early in the fourth quarter.

Iowa's football team will play many more games in Ann Arbor in my lifetime. But, I doubt I will ever see a stronger performance than the one I saw in 2002.

Coming next, my favorite Hawkeye Victories Nos. 5-1.

(Marty Gallagher founded the popular Web site IowaSportsOpinions.com. You can e-mail him at Marty@IowaSportsOpinions.com.)


Hawkeye Insider Top Stories