In a season that was a roller-coaster ride for the Iowa Hawkeyes' football team, big moments and unforgettable plays were aplenty. Both the offense and the defense made big play after big play, propelling the Hawkeyes to a 10-2 season and a berth in the FedEx Orange Bowl.
And if this season is any indication, the Orange Bowl should have a few more memorable moments of its own. Here are my top 10 moments of the Iowa football season.
10. Adam Robinson's 43-yard run against Arizona
Most fans tend to forget this play because nobody scored and Robinson didn't even run more than 50 yards. But this rush was key to Iowa's win against Arizona.
The Hawkeyes faced 3rd-and-23 toward the end of the second half, trailing 10-7. But Robinson's run gave his team new life and his eventual one-yard touchdown run gave Iowa a 14-10 lead going into halftime.
Arizona never led again and the Hawkeyes went on to win the game 27-17. Robinson's momentum swing was huge for Iowa and after that run, neither Arizona's offense nor its defense seemed to be in sync.
9. Brett Greenwood's interception to beat Michigan
Playing in it's first night game at Kinnick Stadium since a 35-0 pummeling of Syracuse in 2007, Iowa went right down to the wire with red-hot Michigan.
The Hawkeyes had a two score lead late in the fourth quarter, largely because or poor quarterback play by Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier.
Late in the game, the Wolverines substituted Denard Robinson for Forcier, and after a quick touchdown, they had a chance to stun the Hawkeyes on their last drive. But Robinson isn't a very good passer, and his jump ball at the end cost him and his team as Brett Greenwood came away with the pick and Iowa came away with a 30-28 victory.
8. Goal Line Stand Against Minnesota
To say the least, Iowa-Minnesota was a sloppy game from start to finish. Neither team could get anything going on offense, but Minnesota was driving in the fourth quarter.
Iowa clung to a 12-0 lead, but the Gophers were threatening, sitting with first-and-goal on the Hawkeye two-yard-line. The first two run plays were stuffed and a pass on third down fell incomplete. On fourth down, the Hawkeyes sacked Weber, helping preserve a 12-0 win and a 10-2 season.
The goal line stand set the tone of both Iowa's and Minnesota's seasons. Minnesota was never able to get it done on offense, while Iowa always seemed to get stops when it most needed them.
7. Derrell Johnson-Koulianos 99-yard kick-off return against Ohio State
After hanging with Ohio State all game, even with redshirt freshman quarterback James Vandenberg making his first career start at Ohio Stadium, Iowa found itself down 24-10 in the fourth quarter.
There isn't much explanation needed here, as DJK ran back an Ohio State kick-off 99 yards for a touchdown, giving the Hawkeyes new life.
6. Marvin McNutt's miracle catch to send Ohio State game to overtime
Few remember this play, but it is one that gave the Hawkeyes respect from all Ohio State fans. After being down 24-10 in the fourth quarter, the Hawkeyes were driving and on the verge of tying the game.
Vandenberg threw a pass up for grabs in the end zone and McNutt caught it over the Ohio State defender's head, evening the score at 24.
Although the Hawkeyes went on to lose to game in overtime, the close game with a redshirt freshman quarterback making his first career start helped Iowa achieve a BCS at-large berth.
5. Tyler Sash's Pinball Interception Against Indiana
With Indiana already up 21-7 in the third quarter, the Hoosiers were driving and were on the verge of ruining Iowa's perfect season.
With 3rd-and-goal from the two-yard-line, Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell's pass bounced off three players until it was caught by Iowa safety Tyler Sash and returned 86 yards for a touchdown.
4. Stanzi's Long Touchdown Passes Against Indiana
After throwing four interceptions in the third quarter against Indiana, fans were booing Ricky Stanzi off the field and lobbying for a quarterback switch.
But Stanzi followed up the worst quarter of his life with the best quarter of his life. He threw two touchdown passes in three plays, a 92-yard pass to McNutt and a 66-yard pass to DJK. Those plays gave Iowa the lead and the Hawkeyes never looked back, eventually blowing out Indiana.
3. Two Blocked Field Goals to Beat Northern Iowa
At the beginning of the season, who would have thought this play wouldn't be the best of the season?
After battling Northern Iowa in a game that was much closer than it should have been, Iowa held onto a 17-16 lead. After UNI drove down the field, Broderick Binns blocked the potential game winning 40-yard field goal and the Hawkeye players celebrated.
But since the ball never passed the line of scrimmage and the Panthers recovered, they got a second chance at the game winner. This time, it was blocked by Jeremiha Hunter, preserving the win.
It was the first time in Division 1 history that a team had blocked two consecutive field goals to win a game.
2. Adrian Clayborn Blocked Punt Return for a Touchdown Against Penn State
Once again, who would have thought this play wouldn't be the best of the season?
Trailing 10-5 early in the fourth quarter at Penn State, Adrian Clayborn powered his way through two blockers, blocked the punt, and picked it up and ran it into the end zone, giving the Hawkeyes an 11-5 lead.
And Iowa never looked back, beating the Nittany Lions 21-10 and putting itself in prime position to make a run in the Big Ten.
1. McNutt Touchdown to Beat Michigan State
After Iowa went up 9-6 late in the fourth quarter against Michigan State, the Spartans drove back thanks to a big hook and latter play, putting them up 13-9.
The Iowa offense had been non-existent all game, but Ricky Stanzi put together another one of his impressive fourth quarter drive, leading the Hawkeyes all the way down to 4th-and-goal on the seven-yard-line and time for one last play.
Marvin McNutt went back to the huddle and told offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe that he could get open on a slant rout.
He was right.
The Spartan defense focused its attention on tight end Tony Moeaki and McNutt made the touchdown catch, giving Iowa a 15-13 win and keeping the dream of an undefeated season alive.
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