I'll admit that I had my doubts after Blair White caught that touchdown, but my wife assured me that the Hawkeyes would be able to drive down and score for the win. 70 yard with 1:32 left is not an easy task and to say Stanzi play was struggling at that point would have been an understatement. To be fair, though, the receivers were no giving him much help.
Up until the last drive, Stanzi was just 7 of 18 for 78 yard with no TDs. And, really he had one beautiful pass down the sideline to DJK for 32 yards that set up a field goal...take that away and he really did nothing. It seemed like the coaches had given up on the pass game, but obviously with just a minute and a half left, you are going to have to throw the ball. Then, Second Half Stanzi emerged. On the final drive Stanzi was 4 of 9 for 60 yards including the perfectly placed, game-winning, touchdown pass to Marvin McNutt on the final play of the game. Just to note as well, the offensive line did an outstanding job of blocking on that final drive especially at the end when MSU was blitzing like crazy.
On the other side of the ball, I thought the defense played really well all game. They had a big stop when MSU had 1st and Goal from the 1 in the 3rd quarter. They also were able to keep Cousins (the B10's leader in passing efficiency) in check pretty much all day (except that TD to White which I think was on Sash...can't really blame them for the hook and ladder play though). I was very confident that the defense would step up and stop the Spartans after the go-ahead field goal with just under 3 minutes left...and then especially so after those two sacks. I was wrong, but still think the defense did well.
Stars of the Game:
Offense - Marvin McNutt
A week after jamming his thumb he comes up with 2 huge catches on the final drive including the game winner. I read that McNutt told the coaches that his defender was playing the outside and that he could get position on a slant. O'Keefe trusted McNutt and called his number. McNutt then ran the perfect route, used his body to shield Spartan's defensive back Chris Rucker, and then hauled in the pass from Stanzi.
Defense - Adrian Clayborn
Clayborn only had 4 tackles on the day but they were all big plays. He had 2 sacks and another tackle for loss in which he forced a fumble. His first sack came in the second quarter when Michigan State had a 3rd and 2 from Iowa's 30. Clayborn's sack pushed the Spartans back 10 yards and out of field goal range. His other sack came on the first drive of the second half. MSU was once again driving and around midfield, but Clayborn got to Cousins once again on a 3rd and 11.
Special Teams - Daniel Murray
I haven't done a "star of the game" for the special teams before, but Murray was very deserving this week. He hit 3 field goals of 37, 20, and 20 yards, that in such a low scoring defensive game were very key.
Keys of the Game:
Time Consuming Drives
In the 4th quarter with the game on the line, Iowa held the ball for 11:33 on 3 drives that all led to scores. The Hawks had a 12 play 48 yard drive ending with a field goal (it really started in the 3rd quarter), an 11 play 72 yard drive with another field goal, then the goal winning 10 play 70 yard drive that ended with a touchdown. By contrast, Michigan State had only 11 plays in the quarter on 2 drives. A lot of credit goes to Adam Robinson and the offensive line as Iowa ran the ball 14 times for 60 yards.
Next Man In
It's been Iowa's motto for some time now, but I can't think of a game where it applied more. The Hawkeyes were dropping like flies yesterday. First to go down was Dace Richardson. He broke a bone in his leg. It was a sad sight as Richardson has battled injuries his whole career and was finally getting back into form. Word is he could be back for the Ohio State game, but only time will tell. Julian Vandervelde, who has started a few games this year before being replaced by Reiff, did well in Richardson place.
Another big injury was to Greenwood, who got hit with some friendly fire from Sash when they both went in for a tackle. I would think it was a concussion, but could be a neck injury. Hopefully it is nothing too serious. In his place, Joe Conklin stepped up getting his first meaning playing time. I think he got beat in coverage once (that I noticed) but did well otherwise.
Colin Sandeman got rocked by a helmet-to-helmet hit in the 4th quarter that was called penalized. (MSU fans are not too happy about the call and claim it's the "worst officiated game" they've ever seen. It looked like the penalty was warranted to me, but what do I know.) Anyway, it looked like Sandeman was knocked out cold, but he was able to get up and walk off the field. From that point on, McNutt, Stross, and DJK were the receivers in the game, and we know what they did.
Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher were both shaken up Saturday. Robinson hurt his ankle at the very end of the game, and Wegher sat out much of the second and third quarters. I'm not really sure what is going on with either of them, but hopefully they will be healthy next week.
I think that's it for injuries...at least I hope so. That was just brutal.
Final Thought This Morning (almost afternoon now):
I love this Hawkeye football team. They just find ways to win. It will be special teams one week, defense the next, and then the offense the next. Today it was Stanzi and the offense saving the day. Now they are 8-0 for the first time ever and the dream is still alive.