It was Ferentz' Hawkeyes that Nick Saban battled in his final game at LSU on New Year's Day 2005. It was that game that JaMarcus Russell really began his brilliant LSU career, tossing two fourth quarter touchdowns to put the Tigers up by one with 46 seconds remaining.
A couple plays later, Iowa quarterback Drew Tate found Warren Holloway for a 56-yard, game-winning touchdown pass that ended the Saban era on a sour note.
A couple hours after that, word leaked that Les Miles would be the next coach in Baton Rouge. Now Ferentz finds himself with another New Year's date with the Tigers.
"Les has taken over the program and done a wonderful job with them," Ferentz said Monday during an Outback Bowl teleconference. "I've watched them through the years, and I don't see any weaknesses on their football team…If you look at their results this year, the fact they're the only team to beat Auburn, that probably starts and ends the discussion right there."
While there's much less uncertainty around the LSU program now than there was eight years ago, Ferentz reflected on that 2005 meeting and discussed what that victory meant for his program.
"It was probably a bigger deal for us than it was for them," Ferentz said. "It was just a really exciting ending. It was a very hard fought game. We were fortunate to get ahead a little bit, and that didn't come easy. It was a tough ballgame, and hopefully we can be in the ballgame against these guys. It's going to be tough because they have an excellent team."
Since that game, Ferentz hasn't had loads of success in charge of the Hawkeyes. Iowa won only 19 games in the three seasons after that Capital One Bowl. The Hawkeyes rebounded a bit in 2008, going 9-4 with an Outback Bowl victory, then came back in 2009 and reached the Orange Bowl to cap off an 11-win season.
But then it was back to middling the Big Ten Conference as Iowa hit its low point last season with a 4-8 record, Ferentz' lowest win total since 2000, his second year with the program.
Ferentz gave all the credit to his seniors and other leaders for getting Iowa back on track, winning eight games this year, including the last three of the season.
"There was nothing dramatic about it," Ferentz said. "We just tried to do a better job at what we were trying to do. The credit goes to the players because that's exactly what they've done each and every day since last November."
Ferentz admits that LSU will be a much different challenge compared to what he's faced during the season. Especially considering that the Tigers will start a freshman quarterback that doesn't have much tape available for Ferentz to study.
"I know nothing about the young quarterback," Ferentz said. "It sure sounds like he came in and did a wonderful job. He may be a little different style, but I don't think styles really matter. It's about leading your team, moving them down the field and scoring points. It sure sounds like he's got that quality to him."