With all the factors involved with Iowa's game against Arizona, no one really knew what to expect going into it.
For starters, there was a history behind the game. Unless you live in a cave, you learned this week that three of the Stoops brothers were college stars at the University of Iowa.
Bob Stoops, the current head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners, was the first to play at Iowa. He played safety for the Hawkeyes and made a name for himself.
Mike Stoops, the current head coach at Arizona, followed Bob and became one of the most decorated Hawkeyes in school history. Mark Stoops, an assistant for Arizona, followed Mike to Iowa and also made a name for himself.
All three wore the number 41. All three are good friends with Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz.
A coach facing their alma mater is one thing. Facing an alma mater with a family history tied to it, and an alma mater where a long-time friend is head coach, definitely doesn't make things any easier, no matter how you slice it.
On top of the history, there were the injuries.
Arizona's TE, Rob Gronkowski, had been injured coming into this game. Despite that, there was hope he might play this week as he was seen at practice.
Then, it was announced that he would not travel with the team. Worse still, rumor has it Gronkowski is out for the year and would likely red-shirt this season.
Iowa also came into the game with a handful of injuries of its own.
Star OT Brian Bulaga is out with a strange illness. TE Tony Moeaki, no stranger to injuries, is out with an ankle tweak. WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos was also not dressed for this game. All three are studs at their position.
No matter the baggage involved with this game, both teams came into it with an insatiable hunger to win.
A win for Arizona meant a turning point in their program. It meant national respect.
A win for Iowa meant silencing the nay-sayers that began to doubt the team after the close game against UNI. Winning this game meant proving something. It also meant going into the Penn State grudge match next week with a 3-0 record.
One thing was clear; this game would be a hard fought battle, no matter which team won.
Prior to the game, the Hawkeyes got a little inspiration when the special guest on ESPN's College Gameday, Lance Armstrong, picked the Hawkeyes to be victorious.
The inspiration appeared to work.
The Hawkeyes came out strong in the first quarter, driving down the field with ease and putting up a quick seven points with a touchdown dive by Adam Robinson.
Making sure the Hawkeyes didn't start off too strong, Ricky Stanzi decided to keep the Wildcats in this game by throwing a TD pass to Arizona CB Trevin Wade. Stanzi threw an interception in the first quarter that Wade returned 39 yards for a touchdown to tie the ball game 7-7.
Not long after the interception, Wildcat running back Nic Grigsby bolted for a 58-yard gain to Iowa’s one yard line, which lead to a 20-yard field goal by Alex Zendejas with 9:55 left in the second quarter to put Arizona up 10-7.
That run would prove to be about the only thing seen or heard from Grigsby all day. Iowa's defense had Grigsby's number, holding the nation's second leading rusher to just 75 yards and no touchdowns.
The Wildcats entered the game with the nation's fifth-best rushing offense. Iowa held Arizona to just eight first downs and 148 yards rushing.
The defense also led Iowa to a score. Arizona attempted to march down the field at the end of the third quarter, but Tyler Sash had other ideas.
Sash grabbed his fourth interception of the year off of Arizona's Matt Scott, then ran it back 40 yards to put Iowa in excellent field position.
This set up Iowa's second field goal of the day. They also scored another touchdown in the fourth with a Brandon Wegher run.
Iowa shut down every aspect of the Arizona offense, preventing them from getting back into this game.
Arizona did manage to score a touchdown on a 10-yard reception by Juron Criner to cut the lead to 27-17, but it was too little, too late.
Iowa's freshman running back Adam Robinson finished the game with more yards than Arizona's Grigsby. Robinson rushed for a career-high 101 yards and two touchdowns. His impressive 43-yard run on 3rd-and-23 came when the Hawkeyes needed it the most.
Besides Robinson and Sash stepping it up for the Hawkeyes, Adrian Clayborn also stepped it up big with 6 tackles, a sack, and forced fumble. Pat Angerer, Karl Klug, and Amari Spievey all had huge games, as well.
The Hawkeyes improve to 3-0 with the win over Arizona.
The game showed the Iowa defense is the real deal. It showed that the young running backs are the real deal, too.
It also showed that something is wrong with Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi that needs to be fixed before the Hawkeyes travel to State College for a prime time showdown next week against the fifth-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions.
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