How’d We Get Here: B1G Championship

A look back at how Iowa made it to where we are now.

What a season, and although it isn’t over, it’s always fun to look back at the great games and memories from the past. Here’s a look back at the last 12 games.

Game One: Iowa vs Illinois State

The game that started it all. Iowa fans weren’t sure what to expect, but I didn’t expect it to be pretty. The optimistic man in me knew that Iowa would come out with a win, but I’ve expected Iowa to win all of the games they’ve played so far, so maybe I’m just blind to reality.

Remember back when Iowa tried fakes? We got our first taste of “New Kirk” this game with a fake field goal. It failed. Iowa got a 17-0 lead going into the half, and they kept going. They only let Illinois State score some garbage points against the second team. Daniels ran for over 100 yards. We saw a mobile Beathard for the first time. Canzeri had 90 receiving yards. Iowa wins this one 31-14.

 

Game Two: Iowa @ Iowa State

Iowa's Nate Meier, right, and teammate Macon Plewa, left, carry the Cy-Hawk trophy off the field after their 31-17 victory over Iowa State in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Iowa’s Nate Meier, right, and teammate Macon Plewa, left, carry the Cy-Hawk trophy off the field after their 31-17 victory over Iowa State in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The first true test for the Hawks. Iowa State has caused problems for Iowa in recent years, and they put up a fight in the first half of this game. Iowa was behind at halftime 17-10. Iowa’s passing game stepped up in the second half, and with a touchdown, an interception by King, and another touchdown, Iowa State’s fate was sealed.

This was the first game where we really got to see Beathard’s power through the air. There were long passes. There were passes that were incredibly accurate. We got to see it all, and Beathard got to be flashy. It was a great game. Iowa wins 31-17.

Game Three: Iowa vs Pitt

Marshall Koehn, Courtesy "The Gazette"

Marshall Koehn celebrates with the team after kicking the game winning, 57-yard field goal. (Courtesy “The Gazette”)

What do I really need to say about this game? We all remember it. Iowa played a close game against a good Pitt team (Which is currently 2nd in its division), and the game came down to the wire. Iowa picked up tempo late, but so did Pittsburgh. Iowa got the ball up to Pitt’s 42 after a long QB draw by Beathard, and Iowa was in position to kick the field goal, and well, the rest is history.

Iowa won 27-24.

Game Four: Iowa vs North Texas

This game looked easy before the season even started, and at this point, everyone knew it would be a cakewalk. North Texas had already been blown out by bad teams, and Iowa was expected to do the same. Jewell and Bower both had pick-sixes. King had big returns on North Texas’s kicks. The second team got lots of playing time. Overall, this was a boring game against a boring opponent. Iowa wins 63-16.

Game Five: Iowa @ Wisconsin

Courtesy "The Gazette"

Iowa took the bull by the horns (or the base) after a win against rival Wisconsin. (Courtesy “The Gazette”)

Surely this is where Iowa’s good season comes crashing down, right? Wrong. Iowa went up to Camp Randall Stadium on a windy Saturday morning and played good defense to beat a ranked Wisconsin team in their own house in a low-scoring game. It’s as simple as that. Wisconsin is a traditionally good football team, and this year is really no exception. Wisconsin is good. They’ve won 9 games.

Beathard wasn’t getting much done through the air, and had a QBR of only 18.9 (Wisconsin QB Stave’s QBR was only 9.7, however), but Canzeri was able to take control of the ground, and smash the ball up the Wisconsin defense’s throats.  Neither team scored in the fourth quarter, and Wisconsin’s turnovers eventually led to its downfall. Iowa wins 10-6.

Game Six: Iowa vs Illinois

This game was when Canzeri had his stellar performance, getting 256 yards on 43 carries. He was the only running back to touch the ball, which is crazy to think about when Iowa uses a four-man rotation now. Beathard also had a great day passing to true-freshman Jerminic Smith. Beathard passed for a total of 200 yards, and the Hawks moved kept on chugging to be halfway through the perfect season. Iowa won 29-20.

Game Seven: Iowa @ Northwestern

Akrum Wadley

Arum Wadley dominates against Northwestern’s defense.

Wisconsin was overrated, but Northwestern is truly the team to beat in the B1G West, Right? Wrong again. Iowa curb stomped Northwestern with lots injured Hawks. Daniels was out. Canzeri got hurt early. Beathard had severely limited mobility, same with T. Smith. This is the game that got Akrum Wadley in to the regular rotation. He ran for 204 yards and 4 touchdowns. Derrick Mitchell Jr. also got a significant amount of carries

This game put Iowa high in the rankings, and first in the Big Ten West. This is when things started to feel real. Iowa was 7 games in without a loss, and they’ve beat two top-25 teams on the road. Iowa is shaping up to look like a conference title contender, and maybe even a playoff team. This game helped Iowa fans be reassured in their team. Iowa won 40-10.

Game Eight: Iowa vs Maryland

Iowa’s first game as a top ten team, and their first game at home in quite a while. This game was pretty boring, however. I remember being disappointed with how Iowa played. They let Maryland have big drives and they passed the ball pretty well. This is the game where Desmond King had his pick-six, and then Will Likely had his kick return for touchdown. Iowa still won by a big cushion, but they didn’t look like a team that would finish 12-0. Iowa won 31-15.

Game Nine: Iowa @ Indiana

I actually completely forgot this game. Literally. I was just about to write the Minnesota section when I realized that things didn’t add up right. This was a game that people thought would be tough for Iowa. Indiana has a really good offense, and RB Jordan Howard was expected to do damage to the Iowa defense, and he did. He got 174 yards and 2 rushing touchdowns, but Iowa’s passing game was alive, and Wadley and Daniels ran for over 200 yards combined. Iowa won 35-27.

Game Ten: Iowa vs Minnesota

Iowa Hawkeyes offensive lineman Austin Blythe (63) and defensive end Melvin Spears (49) carry the Floyd of Rosedale trophy back to the locker room following their victory over the Minnesota Golden Gophers Saturday, November 14, 2015 at Kinnick Stadium. (Brian Ray/hawkeyesports.com)

Iowa Hawkeyes offensive lineman Austin Blythe (63) and defensive end Melvin Spears (49) carry the Floyd of Rosedale trophy back to the locker room following their victory over the Minnesota Golden Gophers Saturday, November 14, 2015 at Kinnick Stadium. (Brian Ray/hawkeyesports.com)

The second night game of the season was almost more exciting than the first, and we all remember how that ended (For those with bad memory, scroll up to the Pitt game). Iowa had some great looking blackout uniforms, and they wanted to win back the Floyd of Rosedale to stay undefeated. Iowa did just that and more, and they looked good doing it.

One of the memories I will always remember was driving to the game and having my friend hold the phone up so I could watch the hit film (above) while i headed down I-80 in gameday traffic. Well worth it. That video got me properly hyped for the most anticipated game thus far. The uniforms were amazing. The atmosphere was electric. The rivalry was strong. Lots of hatred for the team in maroon & yellow, and they couldn’t handle the pressure of the black & gold.

Iowa wins this one 40-35.

Game Eleven: Iowa vs Purdue

And after all that hype, this. It was senior day, and it was a snowy one. The field got cleared of the snow, and Iowa sent its seniors out with a bang. Iowa kept its foot on the gas the whole game offensively, and minus a short defensive lapse, dominated the game on both sides of the ball.

This was also the game where Iowa clinched the B1G West, and a grand celebration was had. I even got a really cool, overpriced championship t-shirt on my way out of Kinnick after a long walk through its concourses. Leaving Kinnick that day was bittersweet. It was all over for Iowa at home for another 10 months, but Iowa was leaving undefeated, and heading to much greater things. Thank you, Kinnick Stadium, for being awesome for 86 years. Iowa wins 40-20.

Game Twelve: Iowa @ Nebraska

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Iowa celebrates its win over Nebraska and perfect season on Tom Osborn field in Lincoln, Nebraska (Courtesy: “The Gazette”)

Where it ends, for now. Everyone thought Iowa would lose, but people had been saying that all season. Long story short, Iowa didn’t lose. Should they have? Maybe. They didn’t play that well, and save for 3 big plays, Iowa could have easily lost this one. All that matters though is that they didn’t. Iowa came out victorious and Nebraska would miss a bowl game due to their losing record (Well not necessarily. They could still make one).

Iowa celebrated much more than winning the forced “Heroes Trophy” against a poor Nebraska team. They celebrated the undefeated season, and got one step closer to the playoffs. Iowa had finally done it, and it couldn’t get much better. Iowa overcame the 7-6 season last year and all the grief from the national media. Iowa won 28-20, and we’re moving on to the Big Ten Championship. See you in Indianapolis. It’s great to be a Hawkeye!

 

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