Iowa dismantled Iowa State 57-3 on Sept. 28, 1985. Two days later, the Hawkeyes moved to the No. 1 spot in the Associated Press college football poll. Michigan State came to Kinnick Stadium on Oct. 5, intent on making it a short stay.
Iowa jumped out to a 13-0 lead, but the Spartans stormed back. Running back Lorenzo White was a riddle the Hawkeye defense never solved, rushing for 226 yards, and freshman quarterback Bobby McAllister got a hot hand. Michigan State moved in front, 24-13.
But the Hawkeye offense finally came back to life, taking a 28-24 lead. Michigan State countered to regain a 31-28 advantage with just over 4 minutes left.
Quarterback Chuck Long and the Hawkeyes took possession at their own 21. Eventually, Iowa had the ball at the Spartans’ 2-yard line with 31 seconds to play and was out of timeouts.
Iowa coach Hayden Fry called a bootleg. Long said to his coach, “Are you sure? What if I don’t make it in?”
Fry looked at Long and said, “Charlie, don’t worry about it. You’re going to get in. Just run the play.”
Long faked to Ronnie Harmon over the middle, rolled to his right and scored untouched.
The game lasted 3 hours, 40 minutes, and the two offenses combined to roll up more than 1,000 yards. But in the end, it was the last 2 yards that kept Iowa No. 1 in the country.