Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Five Reasons it was Great to be a Hawkeye in 2008

With the 2008 college football season recently coming to an end, it's the time of year when everyone starts to reflect on the past year and begins looking forward to the 2009 season. Today, I look back on the Iowa Hawkeye's 2008 season and briefly recap five moments that made this season memorable.

Honorable Mention: Iowa beats Iowa State
It’s always nice to beat those pesky Clones. This was the first real test for the Hawks. Iowa State always seems to really get up for this game and Iowa was able to match their intensity. Iowa wins 17-5 while not giving up a touchdown to ISU for the second consecutive year.

5.) The Defense:
The 2008 Hawkeye defense was one of the elite groups in the conference. Iowa ranked 10th amongst all FBS schools in stopping the run, by only giving up 98 yards per game. Iowa also didn't give up an offensive touchdown in its first three games for the second straight year. Iowa fans got the pleasure to watch a Hawkeye ‘all-timer’ in Mitch King finish out his career as a second team All-American and Big Ten Defensive Linemen of the year. Along with King, this defensive unit was a squad that benefitted greatly from senior leadership. There were only three seniors on the first team, but all three played huge roles. Matt Kroul was the unsung hero on the defensive line for the fourth consecutive year, and Bradley Fletcher had one of the most quietly stellar years for a Hawkeye cornerback. Oftentimes, Fletcher was overlooked on a defense full of talented players, but his senior campaign ranks with the likes of Jovon Johnson and Charles Godfrey's for the best of a Ferentz recruited cornerback. Additionally, on the opposite side of the field was Amari Spievey, who provided a huge boost with his solid play. Spievey returned to the Hawkeyes after a year hiatus in community college.

4.) 12 Points
This year will always be remembered as the year that ‘could have been’. I’m not a huge fan of playing the ‘what-if’ game but it’s hard to ignore the fact that Iowa’s four losses were by a combined 12 points. Thirteen additional points in 2008 and Iowa would have had a truly remarkable season. Of course there were reasons they didn’t score those twelve points, but just this once, you have to think about what could have been.

3.) Iowa Blows Out South Carolina in the Outback Bowl
Any of the next three could have been number one. Iowa winning 31-10 against the Gamecocks in the Outback bowl was a huge momentum builder heading into next season. This was a big win for the Hawks as they returned to a January bowl after staying home for the holidays in 2007. The win was also significant as it was the only Big Ten win during the postseason. The reason this checks in at number three is because South Carolina was out-matched by Iowa and was limping into bowl season after terrible finish to the year. Had Iowa jumped Michigan State for a bid in the Capital One Bowl, an Iowa/Georgia match-up would have been more suitable for the Hawks.

2.) Shonn Greene
Shonn Greene turned the 2008 season into his own personal highlight reel. Week in and week out Iowa fans were able to see Greene shredding through Big Ten defenses and rewriting the Hawkeye record book. Greene left his legacy on Hawkeye history as his 1,850 yards and 20 touchdowns are both single season records. When looking back years from now on the 2008 season the one thing that might stick out is the individual performance by Shonn Greene. This also could have been the number one moment of the past Hawkeye season. But, like Shonn Greene has said in countless postgame interviews he didn’t do this alone.

1.) Iowa Upsets Penn State
Everything about this game was memorable for Hawkeye fans. Whether it be Penn State’s three and out on their opening drive to Daniel Murray’s game winning field goal. In a night that Iowa needed everything to go right, it did. Well, at least in the second half. Not only did Iowa upset the number three ranked team in the county while also effectively ending Penn State’s national championship hopes, but Iowa had many more positives coming out of this game. This upset vaulted Iowa onto the national stage and really got the ball rolling as Iowa would win the rest of their games. In addition, Ricky Stanzi was legitimized as the man under center by engineering a game ending drive into field goal range. And, for good measure, Shonn Greene got his 100 yards while the fans showed support with the first ever ‘Greene Out’. This is one that Iowa fans will savor forever.

So there ya it my top five Hawkeye moments from 2008. Do you agree/disagree?

All photos courtesy of Hawkcentral.com


  1. In my opinion, Jake Christensen's reaction following the Outback bowl victory should have been included in that top 5, if not the top 2

  2. That was one of the best eyerolls I have ever seen. Luckily, there were at least five better moments than that this season. It may have cracked the top five had it occured in the dismal season of 2007.

  3. I don't blame him for leaving, he'll definitely play somewhere...why would you sit on the bench your senior year when a smaller school would love to have you? He just can't play in a BCS conference, that's all. And I say don't blame Christensen for what he did in his time here, blame the coaches. Why did they let him continue to play? Anyway that Penn St. game is definitely number 1. From the time Greene scored on the second play of the opening drive to Stanzi's amazing final drive of the game, it was as good as Iowa football gets

  4. I agree completely. You can't blame the guy for leaving and actually I respect him for sticking it out, and not bolting when he lost the starting gig (ala Philip Bates). And, from all accounts that I've heard he was supportive and helpful to Stanzi throughout the transition.