Bits and Pieces: Iowa-PSU, Kirk Ferentz and Illini

Bits and Pieces

Iowa v Illinois Media Notes | NCAA STAT RANKINGS: IOWA | ILLINOIS | B10 STATS

After such an active weekend of breaking down the Iowa-Penn State on the free football forum of the website, as well as some very detailed tape evaluations and points on a thread in the HN Clubhouse, our members only forum, plus with what Chuck Hartlieb had to say today in his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback commentary, to go into a lengthy tape evaluation of this game would be overkill.

Just to give you an idea of how happy Iowa fans were with this win, HawkeyeNation.com set new records for weekend traffic and number of posts.

How could we not be excited or moved by what we saw on Saturday from the men in the black and gold, as well as the collective coaching effort and the emotion displayed by Kirk Ferentz and members of his family.

Now that the smoke has cleared, I think there are some facts, thoughts, opinions and what not that may have gotten lost over the weekend or that are buried in the Iowa media guide that should be brought back into the light, if only for a day.

FERENTZ'S TEAMS ARE CLOSERS

Iowa improved to 34-4 when leading at the half and 36-2 when leading after three quarters under Coach Ferentz. Ferentz is now 37-31 at Iowa. That means a couple of things. One, when the Hawks get the lead on teams late in a game, they are a disciplined bunch of players and they do not take their foot off of the collective necks of their opponents. It also means that Iowa has had just one fourth-quarter comeback under Ferentz. Can you name it? Answer at the end of this article.

Twenty-three of Iowa 's 68 games over the last six seasons have been decided by seven points or less (11-12) and 25 were played against opponents who were ranked in the top 25 at the time (9-16).

LAST TIME AGAINST RON TURNER?

There was a point in 2001 and 2002 where I would trot out the interesting similarities between Ron Turner's situation when he took over at Illinois and Kirk Ferentz's when he took over at Iowa

Turner's first year at Illinois was 1997. Here were Illinois' records during his first three seasons:

1997: 0-11
1998: 3-8
1999: 8-4 with a big bowl win against Virginia

With the bowl win, he had some momentum going. Though the Illini fell back to 5-6 in 2000, they went 10-2 in 2001 with a Big Ten Championship and a loss in a BCS Bowl.

Here is what Ferentz did in his first three years:

1999: 1-10
2000: 3-9
2001: 7-5 with a bowl win against Texas Tech.

Iowa didn't fall back in year four the way Turner's team did; they went 11-2 and were Big Ten Champions, losing to USC in a BCS bowl. Still, pretty similar.

Last year, Ferentz went 10-3 and won a New Year's Day Bowl

As you know by now, Turner's Illini went into a free fall after their Big Ten title in 2001, going 5-7 in 2002 and then back to the basement with a 1-11 record last year. This year has been more of the same, with Illinois standing at 2-5 (0-5 in league play).

It's always hard for me to figure out as to why Illinois cannot produce a consistent winner, what with all of the talent that the state produces each and every year.

ILLINOIS FUTURE, SANS JON BEUTJER

The long awaited ‘Beutjer Bowl' has been sidelined, literally. Illinois quarterback Jon Beutjer was benched after Illinois lost to Michigan two weeks ago, in favor of a youth movement. RS frosh Brad Bower started for Illinois last week in their 45-0 loss at Minnesota, and Chris Pazan also played in the game. Pazan started last year's game in Iowa City.

Beutjer did not play in last year's game due to an injury, and this year it's due to a coaches decision. I am wondering if Jon would have come back for a sixth year of college had he known that his coach would throw him to the scrap heat midseason?

It looks like the only way Beutjer will play, if Illinois beat writers are to be believed, is if Matt Roth and company knock out the three quarterbacks listed ahead of Jon on the depth chart. That's right, in the depth chart listed above, the Illini list three quarterbacks, and none of them is Beutjer.

ILLINI PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR

They have an excellent punter in Steve Weatherford, and he was recently named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week for his efforts in last week 's game at Minnesota. Weatherford averaged 46.5 yards on eight punts, including a 57-yarder. Five of his eight punts were downed inside the 20. .

HODGE PODGE

- The score at halftime was Iowa 6, Penn State, 2. First downs in the first half: Iowa 6, Penn State, 2. There were a combined 67 plays in the first half; each play averaged just 1.76 yards…Illinois is 19-10 against Iowa all time in Champaign. Iowa's two losses this year came on the road…Kirk Ferentz is now 49-52 as a college head coach, three games shy of being .500, in nine years as a head coach at Maine and Iowa.

- The last time Iowa won a football game in which it did not score a touchdown was in October of 1985, when #1 Iowa beat #2 Michigan, 12-10.

- Iowa's defense twice held Penn State scoreless after the Nittany Lions had a first and goal situation.

- This was the second time this season that Iowa held its opponents to zero offensive points. Kent State scored seven against the Hawks, but those came on an interception return for a touchdown.

- Penn State failed to score on its first offensive possession, becoming Iowa's sixth opponent not to score any points on its opening drive. Arizona State is the only opponent to score on its opening drive, as the Sun Devils posted a touchdown.

- Matt Roth is moving up the all time Iowa charts. Roth forced a Penn State fumble in the first quarter, the third forced fumble by Roth this season and the eighth of his career. Roth recorded four tackles, two sacks and a caused fumble. The senior increased his career sack total to 28, which ranks third at Iowa behind Jared DeVries (42) and Mike Wells (33). Roth has had two sacks in each of Iowa's last two games.

- Kyle Schlicher has made seven straight field goals and is 9 of 11 on the season, his first in handling those duties for Iowa. As a sophomore, Nate Kaeding was 12 of 16 for Iowa, with a best streak of five field goals in a row. Schlicher has been more consistent than Kaeding was that year from 20-39 yards, the distance where the majority of field goals are attempted.

ANSWER: Ferentz's first Big Ten win, 21-16 over Michigan State in Iowa City in 2000. Iowa trailed 16-14 in the final quarter before redshirt freshman Jon Beutjer engineered an 11-play, 84-yard touchdown drive, culminating with a 43-yard touchdown pass from Beutjer to Kevin Kasper with 2:47 remaining. Michigan State got within Hail Mary distance, but the attempt did not find its mark. The win snapped Iowa's 13-game conference losing streak.

Since that game, Iowa is 22-14 in league play, including a record of 14-3 at home. Iowa has not lost a home league game since falling to Michigan 32-26 on October 27th, 2001. Iowa has posted a 26-7 (.788) overall mark and 16-4 (.800) Big Ten record the last three seasons under Ferentz.


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