Hey, pretty fair standup attitude by the guy in charge of the offense. "> Hey, pretty fair standup attitude by the guy in charge of the offense. ">

Chandler Can Take the Heat; Memories of 1985

IOWA CITY – Nathan Chandler is a big boy. He's willing to take the heat. <i>"If people want to blame me, they can," Iowa's 6-7, 250-pound senior quarterback said. "I've been around the block. I've been through some stuff and I can take it."</i> Hey, pretty fair standup attitude by the guy in charge of the offense.

Chandler was referring to the second-guessing that's going on in the wake of the Hawkeyes' first loss of the season. Chandler was sacked five times and couldn't bring his offense out of an inconsistent mess in last week's 20-10 Big Ten defeat at Michigan State.

Chandler got little help from some youthful receivers as Iowa saw a 13-game regular-season winning streak disappear.

If that wasn't bad enough, now Michigan (ranked ninth by the AP and 11th by the coaches) comes to town for a 2:38 p.m. homecoming game Saturday that will be televised regionally by ABC.

"They're going to be ready for us," Chandler said of a Wolverines team that is still smarting from a 34-9 loss at home last season to the Hawkeyes. That victory was a key in Iowa's march to a tie for the Big Ten title.

Although many Iowa fans aren't feeling good about the Hawkeyes' chances Saturday, let me jump in here with some words of advice. Don't forget—Lloyd Carr is still coaching Michigan. So there's hope.

Chandler said this hasn't been a pleasant week inside the Iowa football offices and meeting rooms.

"It was not fun around here on Sunday, and it shouldn't be," he said. "It's been a tough couple of days, and we need to rebound."

Chandler was still trying to explain what went wrong at Michigan State.

"We lacked consistency on offense," he said. "We put ourselves in tough third-and-long situations. We meet as a team and we know who makes mistakes on what play and work on that in-house.

"We took the loss hard. It was devastating. We're determined to get better this week."

Although Chandler ranks second in the Big Ten and 20th nationally in pass efficiency, Iowa is last in the conference in passing with a 132.6-yard average and ninth in total offense with a 323.6-yard average.

The Hawkeyes' rushing offense is fourth in the Big Ten and 21st nationally with a 191-yard average.

Flashback ... No. 1 vs. No. 2 in 1985

Saturday's game is a big one for Iowa and Michigan, but it doesn't have nearly the magnitude of the one 18 years ago at Kinnick Stadium.

In my book, "Tales from the Iowa Sidelines," I had fun re-living the 1985 game. Here's the way I described it:

Hayden Fry's best team at Iowa was his 1985 squad, which won its first seven games, was ranked No. 1 nationally for five weeks and finished with a 10-2 record and rankings of No. 9 and No. 10 after a 45-28 loss to UCLA in the Rose Bowl.

A classic game that season came on Oct. 19 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City when the top-ranked Hawkeyes played No. 2 Michigan.

I covered that game, and excitement throughout the state was at a fever pitch all week.

"It had a Hollywood ending," said Chuck Long, who was Iowa's quarterback.

"The electricity running through the stadium during that game was unbelievable," said Dan McCarney, who then was an assistant on Fry's staff.

Sophomore Rob Houghtlin, who had come to Iowa without a football scholarship, kicked the winning 29-year field goal in a 12-10 victory as time expired.

"A lot of times, when you have a game of that magnitude, the game doesn't live up to the pregame billing," McCarney said. "But that game against Michigan was one that went beyond it.

"I've been a part of some big bowl victories, but that No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in Iowa City is something I'll never forget. Looking at Houghtlin when Michigan called timeout to ‘ice' him, he had that unbelievably confident look — almost an arrogance — in his eyes when he came to the sideline.

"It was like he was saying to Michigan Coach Bo Schembechler, ‘You can call 15 timeouts, Bo, but this thing is going through the uprights."

Iowa had trailed 10-9 late in the game, but a brilliant play by linebacker Larry Station gave the Hawkeyes hope. Station threw Michigan's Jamie Morris for a 2-yard loss on a third-and-two situation that forced the Wolverines to punt.

"We called a stunt," McCarney explained. "But it was Station being Station. He stopped Morris in his tracks and kept Michigan from running out the clock."

Long said Iowa "felt good about that last drive. We had a lot of confidence and a lot of senior leadership. We felt we'd get it done. How could we let the crowd down that day?

"We had a little luck going, too. I remember throwing a pass down the sideline that one of their defensive backs dropped late in the game. Of course, we felt we had a touchdown earlier that got called back."

Ron Maly
Vol. 3, No. 53
Oct. 1, 2003

[Ron Maly's e-mail address is malyr@juno.com ]

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