Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz can only hope — and maybe dream — about better results this time in a home game against a Nebraska football team that has visions of roses dancing through its heads.
The last time he coached against the Cornhuskers at Kinnick Stadium resulted in a Hawkeye disaster in Ferentz’s first game as Iowa’s head coach.
That was on Sept. 4, 1999, and what followed were 14 losses in the following 15 games.
Some trends never change.
The Hawkeyes are going through a rough spell 14 seasons later, entering Friday’s 11 a.m. game at Kinnick Stadium with five losses in a row, and blanked from a bowl for the first time since 2007.
“What we have to play for is pride right now,” Iowa safety Tanner Miller said after Saturday’s 42-17 loss against a Michigan outfit that jumped to 19th from 23rd in the BCS rankings. “That’s the best thing we can do, with our record.
“We’re looking for something to build off of heading into the off-season.”
That could be tough against a 14th-ranked team that’s 9-2 and can clinch the Big Ten Conference’s Legends Division title and a berth opposite Wisconsin in the league’s championship game with either a Friday win or a loss by Michigan Saturday at Ohio State.
Nothing, however, was at stake the last time Nebraska and Iowa met in Iowa City.
“We were ranked about 140th, and they were second or third .<TH>.<TH>. or maybe first,” Ferentz recalled.
The Cornhuskers, actually ranked sixth, hung a 42-7 drubbing during Ferentz’s coming-out party, outscoring Iowa 35-7 during the second half.
“It was terribly hot on that day, and remember, we were in black uniforms,” former Iowa defensive back Matt Bowen recalled last week. “What I remember is that it was a 7-0 first half, and we played so well that Nebraska switched quarterbacks.”
The Cornhuskers went from Bobby Newcombe to Eric Crouch, and the rest is history.
“Crouch popped some plays on us,” Bowen said. “That’s back when Nebraska was a triple-option team, and they ran it well.”
There were 70,397 fans in the stands, eager to check out the guy who replaced legend Hayden Fry.
“I never heard that place so loud,” Bowen said. “Kinnick was shaking. I’ll never forget that.”
Bowen hasn’t forgotten another moment, this one long after most everyone left the stadium.
“After the game, I was dehydrated after running all over the field on a hot day,” he said. “I couldn’t move. I was lying down on a bench in the old locker room, trying to put on a hand-me-down suit that Jeff Kramer gave (me).
“It was hard to put that thing on, because I was cramping up everywhere, and I didn’t think there was anyone left except me and the trainer.
“I didn’t see Kirk until he came over and sat down by me. He told me that I played my heart out, and he didn’t have to say that.
“I was cramped up and I was still emotional. We just got whipped by 30 points, but Kirk calmed me down. He didn’t have to do that. He could have gone home to be with his family, but he stuck around until he knew I was all right.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football