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Hawkeyes beat Gophers, garner accolades and star recruit

BY BRENDAN STILES | NOVEMBER 30, 2009 7:20 AM

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The Hawkeyes may not have won with style when they defeated Minnesota, 12-0, in Kinnick Stadium on Nov. 21.

But the victory kept the Hawkeyes’ hopes of playing in a BCS bowl game alive.

After watching the opportunity to win the Big Ten slip away, Iowa remained in position for an at-large spot with a 10-2 overall record.

The Hawkeyes will likely play in one of three bowl games — the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 4 in Glendale, Ariz., the Orange Bowl on Jan. 5 in Miami, or the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1 in Orlando, Fla. The official announcement comes Dec. 6.

But after the win over the Gophers, the BCS didn’t dominate the conversation. Rather, it was the fact that the Hawkeyes reached 10 wins for the fourth time in the Kirk Ferentz era while overcoming much adversity throughout the season.

“I think this team showed a lot of perseverance,” junior defensive tackle Karl Klug said. “Every time we had adversity, we kind of fought through it. I mean, you go back to the first game with UNI — we had to block two field goals. Even Michigan State came down to the last play.

“We had to come through a lot of tough games to get some wins.”



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In the season finale, the resiliency Iowa has shown all year was best on display defensively. With both linebackers Jeremiha Hunter and Jeff Tarpinian out with injuries, the Hawkeyes had to start Troy Johnson.

The 6-2 linebacker tallied 11 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery en route to being named the Big Ten’s Co-Defensive Player of the Week last week.

Then during the game, linebacker Pat Angerer left with a foot problem, and sophomore Bruce Davis filled the void. Davis recovered a Golden Gopher fumble deep in Hawkeye territory during the second quarter.

“Everybody was a little banged up, and those guys stepped up,” Angerer said. “It’s a testament to the depth of this team.”

Rumors swirl again

Once again, Ferentz’s name has been brought up in the world of coaching carousels.

Prior to Iowa’s 12-0 win over Minnesota, the Chicago Sun-Times linked the 11th-year Iowa head coach to a possible vacancy at Notre Dame, and last weekend, the newspaper mentioned his name again.

It should be noted that Charlie Weis has not yet been let go by Notre Dame and that Ferentz recently restructured his current contract at Iowa earlier this year, which has him at Iowa through the 2015 season.

In fact, when asked about the situation during a Nov. 17 press conference, Ferentz made clear it was the furthest thought from his mind.

“It’s gossip talk or whatever. That’s the last thing I thought about,” he said days after the initial report. “I’ve been here 20 years. I mean, I kind of like my job.”

Good things keep coming Iowa’s way

Over Thanksgiving break, the Hawkeyes saw honors come left and right, then scored a major victory in a recruiting battle with Illinois.

On Nov. 23, the Big Ten announced its season awards and first and second all-conference teams. Ferentz was tabbed as the conference’s Coach of the Year, and junior Bryan Bulaga was named the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year. Bulaga was also a consensus first-team choice by both the coaches and media, along with junior defensive end Adrian Clayborn, senior linebacker Pat Angerer, and sophomore safety Tyler Sash.

Then a couple days later, C.J. Fiedorowicz, who is regarded as the nation’s top high-school tight end, de-committed from Illinois and gave an oral commitment to Iowa after making an official visit during the Minnesota game. The Johnsburg, Ill., native is listed at 6-7 and 240 pounds and is a four-star recruit, according to Rivals.com.


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