Coach Bob Commings called it “the greatest Iowa victory in the last 20 years” after the Hawkeyes stunned No. 11 Penn State 7-6 on Sept. 25, 1976, at Beaver Stadium.
Considering that Iowa had not won more than three football games in any of the six previous seasons, that 20-year window wasn’t open all the way. But this was a stunning victory. Penn State coach Joe Paterno said his team was outplayed and outcoached.
“We were lucky to be that close,” Paterno admitted.
Iowa took a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter on a short Tom Renn touchdown run, then held on for dear life. Penn State tried to kick a 34-yard field goal at the end of the half — 15 yards closer than expected after Iowa was penalized for having 12 men on the field. But time expired before the Nittany Lions could attempt the kick.
Penn State scored in the fourth quarter, and Paterno went for two. But Iowa’s Rod Sears tipped away a pass intended for Jimmy Cefalo. The Nittany Lions had one more chance, but the Hawkeyes’ Dean Moore got a finger on Herb Menhardt’s 25-yard field-goal attempt that missed with 47 seconds to play.
“It seemed to me the ball was hooking too much, the way it came at me, then I was aware that something had grazed my finger,” Moore said.
The celebration was on in Iowa’s locker room. It was short-lived. Iowa lost at USC the following week 55-0 and finished 5-6. But that did represent the most wins for a Hawkeye team since 1969. Commings was fired two seasons later.
View the entire series at DesMoinesRegister.com/Hawkeyes25in50.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football