The wonderful double-overtime victory over Michigan State this weekend marked Kirk Ferentz’ 100th victory as head coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes!  That’s a tremendous accomplishment.  In honor of Ferentz’ 100th win at Iowa, it seems appropriate to take a look back at some of his greatest coaching victories.

Kirk FerentzKirk Ferentz’ Greatest Wins

In chronological order, here are a few of the most memorable victories in Coach Kirk Ferentz’ tenure at Iowa!

September 18, 1999 – Iowa 24, Northern Illinois 0 (win #1)

The first win of Kirk Ferentz’ career…I remember it well; I was a sophomore at the University of Iowa at the time.  Knowing that this might be Iowa’s best chance for a win this season, this game was the first of many to salute Coach Hayden Fry’s contributions to the Iowa program.  Iowa broke a 3-0 game at halftime open in the third quarter and cruised to a shutout victory.  It turned out to be Iowa’s only win in Kirk Ferentz’ first season.

October 7, 2000 – Iowa 21, #25 Michigan State 16 (win #2)

After losing to Western Michigan earlier in the year, several media outlets were obsessed with the possibility of Iowa going 0-12 on the season.  Instead, Iowa earned their first conference win under Kirk Ferentz (and their first victory over a ranked opponent) by upsetting the Spartans at home.  The game was highlighted by a bone-crushing tackle on special teams by an unknown freshman named Bob Sanders.  He wouldn’t remain unknown for long.

November 4, 2000 – Iowa 26, Penn State 23 (2OT) (win #3)

Kirk Ferentz’ first road win took place, appropriately, in his home state of Pennsylvania.  This was the game when I knew Ferentz would get the program on track in short order.  Beating Michigan State was nice, but winning in front of over 100,000 screaming PSU fans was something else.  The Hawks showed a lot of heart in this game, which was sealed when Ryan Hansen picked off a Nittany Lion pass at the end of the second overtime.

November 11, 2000 – Iowa 27, #12 Northwestern 17 (win #4)

Yep, I’m putting all four of Kirk Ferentz’ first four Hawkeye coaching victories on this list.  After toppling Penn State, the Hawkeyes returned home and dominated the Wildcats, who had the lead in the Rose Bowl race.  Iowa’s victory helped send Drew Brees and Purdue to Pasadena.  A narrow loss to Minnesota barely prevented Iowa from putting together a .500 conference season in Kirk Ferentz’ second season.

December 29, 2001 – Iowa 19, Texas Tech 16 (win #11)

Few people gave Iowa a chance to knock off the offensively talented Red Raiders in Kirk Ferentz’ first bowl game.  But this was the game where defensive coordinator Norm Parker stamped himself as one of the nation’s top defensive minds, and Nate Kaeding helped kick Iowa to a landmark victory.

September 28, 2002 – Iowa 42, #12 Penn State 35 (OT) (win #15)

Ah…the game that gave the Big Ten instant replay.  Iowa stormed out to an early lead, but in the fourth quarter, PSU erased a 22-point deficit to send the game to overtime.  Iowa struck first with a touchdown, and when Penn State couldn’t counter, Iowa came away with another victory over the Lions.  Joe Paterno, at the time considered a model of sportsmanship, sprinted after an official to complain about a short Penn State pass that had been ruled out of bounds.  Even though PSU had benefited earlier in the game from a bad call that negated an Iowa touchdown, Paterno’s complaints about that incomplete pass helped usher in an era of instant replay…first in the Big Ten and then across the country.

October 5, 2002 – Iowa 31, Purdue 28 (win #16)

Banks to Clark…what more needs to be said?  Iowa pulled this game out of the fire when quarterback Brad Banks threw a touchdown pass to Dallas Clark on fourth and goal from the seven yard line with under a minute remaining in the game.  Clark earlier had a 95-yard touchdown reception where he raced down the Iowa sidelines for a score.

October 26, 2002 – Iowa 34, #8 Michigan 9 (win #19)

This game was incredible…beating a top ten Michigan team on the road.  And not just defeating them…putting a beating on them.  This was the game where Kirk Ferentz really emerged onto the national radar, and all things considered, it might be his most impressive coaching victory.  Suddenly, Iowa was 5-0 in the Big Ten, and a perfect Big Ten season was in sight.

November 16, 2002 – Iowa 45, Minnesota 21 (win #22)

And Iowa clinched that undefeated Big Ten season with a victory over Minnesota in their regular season finale.  It was Iowa’s first undefeated conference season in 80 years, and the win set school records for victories and conference victories in a single season.  Following the game, Iowa fans stormed the field to celebrate the historic occasion.  Knuckleheads running the Metrodome sound system thought it was a good idea to rile up these Iowa fans by blasting feedback and screeching noises over the public address system.  Hawkeye fans responded by tearing down one of Minnesota’s goalposts, becoming the first incident in known history of a team’s fans tearing down goalposts in an opposing team’s stadium.

August 30, 2003 – Iowa 21, Miami (OH) 3 (win #23)

Iowa knocked off Miami of Ohio for the third straight season.  That might not seem impressive at first glance, but Miami was led by a scrappy quarterback named Ben Roethlisberger.  Miami went on to win the rest of their games that season, finishing in the top ten of the national rankings.  Roethlisberger was then drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers and won his first 13 games in a Steelers’ uniform, leading Kenny Mayne of ESPN to investigate what Iowa’s secret was for toppling Big Ben.

September 20, 2003 – Iowa 21, #16 Arizona State 2 (win #26)

Many Hawk fans remember Iowa’s 2004 disaster in the desert against the Sun Devils, but a year before that, Iowa came up big against a ranked Arizona State team.  Ramon Ochoa scored two touchdowns, establishing himself as Iowa’s surprise contributor of the year, and the Hawkeye defense stifled quarterback Andrew Walter (or whatever his name was) and the Arizona State offense.

October 4, 2003 – Iowa 30, #9 Michigan 27 (win #27)

Kinnick Stadium might have been as loud as it has ever been during this game, Iowa’s homecoming against Michigan.  The Hawkeyes battled back from an early 14-0 deficit to overtake the Wolverines, and a deafening crowd lifted the Iowa defense as John Navarre threw incomplete to end Michigan’s final threat of the game.

November 15, 2003 – Iowa 40, #17 Minnesota 22 (win #30)

This was a misleading final score, as Iowa led 40-6 over the ranked Gophers before Minnesota scored a couple of meaningless touchdowns in garbage time.  Bob Sanders played the game of his life for the Hawks, most memorably forcing a fumble from Minnesota’s Laurence Maroney about six inches short of the Iowa’s goal line to keep the Gopher out of Iowa’s end zone.

November 22, 2003 – Iowa 27, Wisconsin 24 (win #31)

Had to mention this victory the following week.  Sean Considine batted down a Badger pass in the end zone on fourth down as time expired to preserve victory.  The image of the Iowa team celebrating in the rain following Considine’s play is one of the greatest pictures of Kirk Ferentz’ tenure at Iowa.

January 1, 2004 – Iowa 37, #17 Florida 17 (win #32)

Beating Florida is always an incredibly memorable experience, but beating a coach like Ron Zook might be even better.  It was pretty obvious that Zook expected Florida to simply roll the anonymous Hawkeyes (and star running back Nate Kaeding) in the Outback Bowl.  But Iowa demolished Zook’s trash-talking crew and seized a 37-10 lead on the way to a convincing victory.

October 16, 2004 – Iowa 33, #23 Ohio State 7 (win #36)

Ohio State has been Iowa’s Kryptonite seemingly forever.  That’s what made this 33-7 win especially satisfying.  Beating the Buckeyes is pretty rare for Iowa, but beating them by 26?  This was an incredible win for Kirk Ferentz’ crew.

October 23, 2004 – Iowa 6, Penn State 4 (win #37)

The following week, what the nation mocked as an ugly game became a cherished win for Iowa fans.  Kirk Ferentz’ father John passed away the week of the game, and he spent the better part of the week in Pennsylvania for the funeral.  He made it out to State College in time for the game, and Iowa’s defense wasn’t about to let him down.  The Hawkeye D shut out Penn State’s offense and forced five interceptions to claim a hard-fought slugfest with an unusual final score.  As time ticked away in the game, Ferentz embraced his sons on the sidelines and openly wept with them as the memory of John Ferentz washed over the Hawkeye sidelines.

November 20, 2004 – Iowa 30, #9 Wisconsin 7 (win #41)

The narrative of this game was simple.  Michigan lost earlier in the day, opening the door for the winner of this game to share the Big Ten title with the Wolverines.  Wisconsin was no match for the Hawks at Kinnick Stadium.  Iowa rolled to victory and a conference championship in front of their home fans in a scene reminiscent of Iowa’s victory of Michigan State in 1981.  Kirk Ferentz raised the Big Ten championship trophy in front of over 70,000 delirious Hawkeye fans, which made for an incredible scene in Iowa City.

January 1, 2005 – Iowa 30, #11 LSU 25 (win #42)

Tate to Holloway.  Anything else?  It’s only the most electrifying finish of the Kirk Ferentz era, and maybe the greatest finish in Iowa football history.  There’s not much that can beat a 56-yard touchdown pass as time expires to win a bowl game.

November 12, 2005 – Iowa 20, #19 Wisconsin 10 (win #48)

A year after beating the Badgers for a Big Ten championship, Wisconsin expected to enact their revenge in 2005.  Barry Alvarez’ final home game in Madison was supposed to be a Badger celebration, but the Hawks spoiled the party and came away with an impressive road win.

September 9, 2006 – Iowa 20, Syracuse 13 (2OT) (win #51)

Iowa didn’t live up to expectations for most of this game…Iowa could muster little offense due to the absence of quarterback Drew Tate, who had been lost to injury.  But the defense stepped up to secure the Hawkeye victory by keeping the Orange out of the endzone in the second overtime.  Syracuse had a first and goal and were given several extra plays after a pass interference penalty.  Iowa’s defense stuffed the Orange on seven straight plays to clinch the win.

October 13, 2007 – Iowa 10, #18 Illinois 6 (win #58)

Even Kirk Ferentz’ less successful teams are capable of pulling off a memorable win or two.  Ron Zook’s Illini came into their game with the Hawks flying high and ranked in the top 20, but once again, Iowa’s defense was up to the challenge.  Illinois’ last threat was stifled when Brett Greenwood intercepted a pass with 1:12 remaining in the game.  The Illini later backed into a Rose Bowl berth, so the win was particularly memorable.

November 8, 2008 – Iowa 24, #2 Penn State 23 (win #67)

This game is the reason why Daniel Murray could run for mayor of Iowa City.  With one second left in the game, Murray nailed maybe the most dramatic field goal kicked at Kinnick Stadium since Michigan came to town in 1985.  That spoiled Penn State’s run toward a possible national championship appearance and put Iowa back on the national stage.

November 22, 2008 – Iowa 55, Minnesota 0 (win #69)

In the last Minnesota game ever played in the Metrodome, Iowa laid a whipping on the Gophers they won’t soon forget.  Iowa’s 55-0 victory might have been the most dominant sixty minutes the Hawkeyes have ever played.  Also during Ferentz’ 69th win at Iowa, there was an incident in the Metrodome bathroom.  …  Okay, moving on…

January 1, 2009 – Iowa 31, South Carolina 10 (win #70)

Iowa notched a third bowl win over the SEC by taking down Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina squad.  Shonn Greene ended the season as he started it, by rushing for over 100 yards.  Iowa controlled this game from the start, taking a 31-0 lead after three quarters and rolling to victory.

September 26, 2009 – Iowa 21, #4 Penn State 10 (win #74)

This was billed as Penn State’s revenge game for their loss to Iowa the previous season.  Instead, Adrian Clayborn blocked a Nittany Lion punt and returned it for a touchdown to give the Hawks the lead.  Iowa piled on from there to get Kirk Ferentz his second straight victory over a top 5 ranked Penn State team.

October 24, 2009 – Iowa 15, Michigan State 13 (win #78)

Seven got six.  On the final play of the game, Ricky Stanzi threw to Marvin McNutt for a game-winning touchdown as time expired, and the Hawks became the first team in Iowa history to start a season 8-0.  That win helped propel the Hawks to a BCS bowl game…

January 5, 2010 – Iowa 24, #9 Georgia Tech 14 (win #81)

…which Iowa won, 24-14.  Iowa had lost their last four BCS-level bowl games.  Not only had they lost them, but Iowa had trailed at some point in each of those games by at least 25 points.  The 1982, 1986, and 1991 Rose Bowls and the 2003 Orange Bowl had been bitter disappointments, but the 2010 Orange Bowl was a different story.  The Hawks shut down Georgia Tech’s vaunted triple-option offense, and Kirk Ferentz led Iowa to the school’s biggest bowl win since 1959.

October 2, 2010 – Iowa 24, #20 Penn State 3 (win #85)

For the third straight year, Penn State came into the Iowa game ranked.  And for the third straight year, Kirk Ferentz hung a loss on Pennsylvania’s Big Ten team.  Iowa raced out to a 17-0 lead early in the game, outgaining Penn State 148-1 in the first quarter.  Iowa went on to win by 21 points, the largest margin of victory for the Hawks in the history of the Iowa-Penn State series.

October 16, 2010 – Iowa 38, #24 Michigan 28 (win #86)

Iowa carried a 28-7 lead into the fourth quarter at the Big House in Michigan and cruised to a 38-28 win.  Ricky Stanzi threw three touchdowns to DJK in this game, and Iowa’s defense completely shut down Michigan’s Denard Robinson.  Robinson was replaced by Tate Forcier, who led the Wolverines to a furious comeback, but Iowa had enough offense to notch Kirk Ferentz’ second win in Ann Arbor.

October 30, 2010 – Iowa 37, #5 Michigan State 6 (win #87)

Michigan State came into their game against Iowa in 2010 undefeated and in the driver’s seat in the Big Ten.  The Hawks routed the Spartans for yet another victory over a top five ranked team under Kirk Ferentz.  Tyler Sash picked off a Kirk Cousins pass and pitched it to Micah Hyde, who raced 66 yards for a defensive touchdown in the most spectacular play of Iowa’s commanding victory.

December 28, 2010 – Iowa 27, #14 Missouri 24 (win #89)

After a disappointing season, Iowa came into the Insight bowl with few expectations.  The Hawks delivered their eighth win of the season by upsetting the Tigers in Phoenix.  Missouri had backed out of a non-conference series with Iowa less than a decade earlier, but the Tigers couldn’t duck the Hawks in this bowl game.  Marcus Coker ran for 219 yards as Iowa won the first game between these border state schools in 100 years.

September 17, 2011 – Iowa 31, Pittsburgh 27 (win #91)

Pitt jumped out to a 24-3 lead in this game before the Hawks stormed back to notch the biggest comeback win in school history.  James Vandenberg threw three fourth-quarter touchdown passes, and Kirk Ferentz’ Hawks claimed an improbable 31-27 win.

November 5, 2011 – Iowa 24, #13 Michigan 16 (win #95)

For the first time, Iowa toppled Michigan for the third straight season by upending the ranked Wolverines, 24-16.  The Hawks controlled the game for three and a half quarters, jumping out to a 24-9 lead.  Denard Robinson tried to lead Michigan back, throwing a touchdown pass with under eight minutes to go.  But Michigan’s final drive stalled at Iowa’s three-yard line, and B.J. Lowery batted down Robinson’s fourth down pass as time expired to give the Hawks another heart-stopping win over a ranked foe.

October 13, 2012 – Iowa 19, Michigan State 16 (2OT) (win #100)

Appropriately, Kirk Ferentz got his 100th head coaching win at Iowa in dramatic fashion, leading Iowa to victory in East Lansing in double overtime.  Mark Weisman topped 100 yards rushing and scored the game-tying touchdown with 55 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime, 13-13.  Mike Meyer kicked a field goal to start the second overtime and give Iowa the lead, and Greg Castillo sealed the win by reeling in a deflected Spartan pass to lift Kirk Ferentz to the century mark.

Winning 100 college football games at any school is a huge achievement.  Hawkeye fans have been fortunate over the past 14 years to have Captain Kirk stoically guiding the Iowa football ship.  Here’s to celebrating 100 victories and wishing Coach Kirk Ferentz many, many more.

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