Iowa Learning to Win Tight Games

The Hawkeyes are finally learning how to win close games, which could be bad news for the Gophers, who need a win to pull out of a late-season funk.

After losing four games by a total of 12 points, Iowa has suddenly won two straight by a combined six points. The team that couldn't figure out how to win a close game has now beaten a top-10 team (Penn State) and Purdue in consecutive weeks.

The 22-17 victory over the Boilermakers gave Iowa (7-4) its most wins since 2005 and ensured the Hawkeyes of a bowl game. As to why his team is suddenly winning the close games it couldn't just a few weeks ago, coach Kirk Ferentz doesn't have any answers.

"It wasn't like we played totally clean, but we played clean enough and made plays when we had to," he said. "That's football. It would be wonderful if everything goes the way you draw it up or the way you script it, but it doesn't typically. You have to overcome some bumps, and fortunately our team was able to do that in all regards."

Shonn Greene was again a large part of the equation. The best running back in the country no one has heard of rushed for 211 yards and two touchdowns, including an impressive 75-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Greene leads the nation now with 1,585 rushing yards and he is averaging 6.2 yards per carry.

"I'm not into the national awards, but if you look at players playing football, I can't imagine there are many guys playing that position better than Shonn Greene across the country," Ferentz said. "That's a real credit to him."


  • Dan Doering rotated at guard in what was the most extensive time he has seen this season.

  • DB Brett Greenwood injured his shoulder, but returned after missing a handful of snaps.

  • DE Christian Ballard missed some plays while getting his right hand worked on, but it didn't appear to be anything serious.

  • TE Tony Moeaki (concussion) did not dress.

    KEEP AN EYE ON: RB Jewel Hampton — Iowa appears well-stocked at tailback for years to come. Behind Greene, a junior, is the true freshman Hampton, who averaged 10 yards per carry and scored the game's first touchdown on a 22-yard run. He later added a 52-yard kickoff return, a new season long.

    LOOKING GOOD: DT Mitch King was only credited with five tackles, but he came up with the day's biggest play in the final minute when he sacked Curtis Painter, forcing Purdue to burn its final timeout. King was a force inside, recording three tackles for loss and a forced fumble.

    Iowa lost the final home game in each of the last two years, making it special to finally come up with a victory on senior day. Iowa finished the season 6-1 in Kinnick Stadium. "Certainly you want to finish on a positive note, and we were able to do that," coach Kirk Ferentz said. "Not quite a perfect year in Kinnick, but certainly we've improved in that regard."

    Another good day for the defense. S Brett Greenwood led the defense with a career high 14 tackles, Jeremiha Hunter had 10 and the trio of Bradley Fletcher, Pat Angerer, and Amari Speivey each had nine. Angerer's nine tackles give him 92 for the season, tops on the team.

    STILL NEEDS WORK: Receivers, strangely enough, accounted for both turnovers on fumbles. Andy Brodell fumbled following a 6-yard gain in the first quarter, which resulted in a Purdue field goal. Derrell Johnson-Koulianos later fumbled in the third quarter, but the defense responded by forcing a turnover of its own.

    For all the line and Greene did right, he was stuffed on fourth-and-1 at the Purdue 20 with 1:10 remaining, giving the Boilermakers the chance at driving down for a potential game-winning score. Curtis Painter's ‘Hail Mary' into the end zone fell incomplete, but if Greene gets the first down, it never even gets to that point.

    The defense escaped on Purdue's second drive when the Boilers kept getting in their own way. Twice, Purdue scored a touchdown on the drive, and both times it was negated by a penalty. Had the Boilermakers actually scored on that drive, it could have made the rest of the game a little more interesting.

    DirecTV had technical problems that kept fans from seeing most of the first half, according to the Cedar Rapids Gazette. Those issues were eventually resolved, but not before inciting a state expecting to see the start of the game. While it was aired on the Big Ten Network, a network spokesman said the problems lied solely with DirecTV.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "Wins are beautiful, no matter how you get them. We've had some tough losses, some close losses, I think four to be exact, and to win a close game, to me it looked pretty good." — Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, on whether the victory was an "ugly" win

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