Iowa's Win Over Indiana Far From BCS Conspiracy

B.Senior Analyst INovember 2, 2009

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 01:   The Iowa Hawkeyes celebrate after an interception by Paki O'Meara #25 against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the Outback Bowl on January 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Despite what some mainstream journalists believe, there isn't an elaborate BCS conspiracy behind Iowa's win over Indiana.

The explanation for the Hawkeyes' victory last Saturday is actually much simpler.  The game wasn't won by favorable officiating, it was won by good strategy. 

Kirk Ferentz won this game with the coin toss. 

Iowa won the toss at the start of the game and deferred to the Hoosiers, something very uncharacteristic of the Hawkeyes.  Fans scratched their heads, but the change from the norm was the result of Ferentz changing the game plan. 

He was strategizing.

Indiana opted to receive the ball to start the game rather than take the ball to start the third quarter.

This seemed like a brilliant plan by Bill Lynch after Indiana put up a quick touchdown on their opening drive and went to halftime with a 21-7 lead. 

Iowa helped their cause even further on their first two drives of the second half, when Ricky Stanzi threw two more interceptions. 

The Hawkeyes kept it interesting when Tyler Sash's Traveling Interception Show picked a perfect time to make an appearance.  On third down, the Hoosiers' third attempt at scoring from inside the five yard line, Sash plucked a deflected pass out of the air and ran it 86 yards for an Iowa touchdown to make it 21-14, Indiana.

Seemingly unbothered, the Hoosiers promptly marched back down, ready to rebound from their previous mistake in play calling.  Facing third down and six, Indiana opted to go for the end-zone rather than first down.  The gamble almost paid off, as it looked like a completed touchdown pass.

Enter the now-infamous BCS Conspiracy Theory review that resulted in Indiana's overturned touchdown.

"No one with two eyes could say it was irrefutable that Turner was not inbounds when he caught the pass," proclaims Los Angeles Times' journalist Chris Dufresne .

"I watched the replay a half-dozen times, and not once did I see the kind of indisputable evidence required to overturn a call," whines The Indianapolis Star's columnist Bob Kravitz .

Wars are now breaking out online over the definition of irrefutable.  Some say it was bobbled and incomplete, some say a foot was down and control clearly established.

Regardless of which side of the argument someone might be, a wise person asks, is one play enough to doom a team?  

Is a play midway through the third quarter really enough for tenured journalists to trump up conspiracy charges?   

The fact is, even if the officials did botch the overturned touchdown, Indiana should have rolled-with-the-punches and kept playing hard for the entire 60 minutes.   Iowa provided more than ample opportunities for Indiana to redeem themselves in this game.  

After the touchdown was overturned, the Hoosiers immediately had another chance to score.  They went for a field goal on fourth down and missed with the wind at their back.

Was the missed field goal part of the conspiracy, too?  Was Stanzi's interception on Iowa's drive after the overturned call, which lead to an Indiana field goal, part of the conspiracy, too?

If the overturned touchdown killed Indiana's momentum, Stanzi brought it back to life by throwing yet another interception on the 25-yard line.  If the field goal wasn't enough to resurrect Indiana's momentum, maybe Stanzi's fifth INT could have helped the cause. 

Or was Stanzi's fifth interception, returned over 40 yards by Indiana, part of the conspiracy, too? 

Heading into the fourth quarter, Indiana still had a 10-point lead.   Iowa turned the ball over multiple times in excellent field position, with Indiana failing to capitalize.   It didn't matter, though, because all they needed to do was stop the Hawkeyes from scoring.

They failed miserably.

With the wind at his back, Stanzi unloaded a 92-yard touchdown pass on first down to Marvin McNutt. 

Even with the Iowa touchdown, making the score 24-21, Indiana still had the lead over the Hawkeyes with just around 12 minutes left to play.  All they needed to do was keep a team with six turnovers from scoring again. 

On Iowa's next possession, Stanzi floated a 66-yard touchdown pass to Derrell Johnson-Koulianos to put Iowa in the lead, 28-24. 

Continuing the offensive onslaught, Iowa's true-freshman running back, Brandon Wegher, added two more touchdowns, putting the Hawkeyes on top for a final score of 42-24.

Indiana's defense completely collapsed.  They gave up four touchdowns in the fourth quarter; two by a quarterback in the midst of a career-high five interception game, and two by a freshman running back starting his first game.

But writers conjure up conspiracy theories to explain Iowa's win because it's easier to make excuses than to accept responsibility. 

Truth be told, it was Iowa's ability to adapt and overcome, and Ferentz's foresight to defer the toss, that won this game.

Ferentz knew enough to anticipate the wind and have faith in his team.  Even after Stanzi threw five interceptions, Ferentz kept his faith in Stanzi and the game plan.  He knew the Hawkeyes played their best football in the fourth quarter. 

And after three mistake-riddled quarters of football, Iowa slapped adversity in the face to perform yet another fourth-quarter comeback. 

That's called good strategy, not BCS conspiracy.

Anyone with an Internet connection can re-watch this game, thanks to .  That means anyone who suspects conspiracy can verify the facts of the game for themselves.

Verifying facts shouldn't be too much to ask of a Sports Journalist with 28 years of experience, right?


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