1991

The Rose Bowl, Pasadena CaliforniaJanuary 1
The team that felt it couldn’t get any respect all year long finally won some in Pasadena. Yes, the Hawkeyes lost the game 46-34 to the Washington Huskies. Yes, they played a dismal first half, stumbling as Washington effectively snuffed out every exotic that Coach Hayden Fry tried. Yes, the Hawks departed the field at halftime looking at a scoreboard that said 33-7.

But the second half was different. Early in the third quarter, quarterback Matt Rodgers threw a lateral to tight end Michael Titley, who tossed the ball 53 yards to Jon Filloon, leading to a 7-yard touchdown run by Rodgers.

The Hawkeyes played hot potato football on another occasion, too, when Rodgers handed the ball to [Nick] Bell, who handed it to wide receiver Danan Hughes, who hurled it 66 yards downfield and back to Bell. That series ended with another Rodger s touchdown, this one on a 9-yard run.

Los Angeles Times sportswriter Jim Murray, a longtime mocker of anything coming out of the Midwest, turned eloquent when he wrote about the Hawkeyes rolling up 375 yards and 27 points in the second half of play.

He called Bell “mastodonic.” He noted that Iowa, a team with one foot in its grave at halftime, “came off the deathbed snarling and spitting.”

“It wasn’t your textbook game,” Iowa’s old nemesis wrote. “…It was football as it’s supposed to be, not the roboticized, sterile, mistake-free stuff we’ve become accustomed to. This wasn’t a take-no-chances game. This was a take-no-prisoners game.”

In the 77th Rose Bowl game played, the Hawkeyes made mistakes aplenty—a blocked punt and five turnovers made a complete recovery for the win possible. But it was exciting football.

By game’s end, running back Tony Stewart had accumulated enough yards to surpass Owen Gill as Iowa’s all-time leading rusher. Together, the Huskies and the Hawkeyes racked up more points than any two foes had ever managed in the “Granddaddy of Them All.”

It was a great, gutsy show. No one left the stadium early.

September 7
At home against the Hawaii Rainbows, the Hawks scored 14 points in the opening three minutes on their way to a 53-10 victory.

September 14
Starting fast again at Ames a week later, Iowa scored on its first three drives. Though the Cyclones looked better as the game went on, Iowa’s 29-10 victory was convincing.

October 19
Iowa’s 80th Homecoming game was a nail-biter. After the Illini scored on three of their first four possessions, the Iowa defense had its work to do. In the second half, the defense held Illinois to 80 yards and sacked their quarterback six times. The Hawkeyes danced the hokey-pokey after this 24-21 victory—and the fans tore down both goalposts.

November 2
Less than 24 hours after learning of a shooting rampage on the UI campus that left six dead and one critically wounded, the Hawks swarmed into Ohio Stadium with their helmets stripped of decals. Offensively, quarterback Matt Rodgers completed 20 of 27 passes for 258 yards before he was sidelined with a knee injury. On the defensive side, Iowa held the Buckeyes to 124 yards rushing. Defensive end Leroy Smith totaled 14 tackles, including five quarterback sacks—a new Iowa record. With the eyes of the world on them, Iowa won the game, 16-9.

November 23
A foot of snow fell the night before Iowa welcomed the Minnesota Gophers into Kinnick Stadium, where 32,000 faithful defied the wintry weather and shivered in their thinsulate. Despite wretched conditions on the field, Hawkeye quarterback Matt Rodgers managed to throw for 390 yards and three touchdowns in the 23-8 victory that gave Iowa ten wins and another trip to the Holiday Bowl. Danan Hughes celebrated after making one of those touchdown receptions by making a snow angel in the south end zone. Not only did the Hawkeyes retrieve Floyd of Rosedale, but Hayden Fry marked his 100th victory at Iowa.

The Hawkeyes amassed ten wins for only the third time in Iowa football history and Coach Fry was smiling pretty after two years of dental work at the UI College of Dentistry. “I don’t know if I’ve ever made a more beneficial decision in my life,” said Fry, who had become accustomed to the chipped and missing teeth he earned from early sports injuries. “They saved my teeth.”

1991 Holiday Bowl
Facing Brigham Young in San Diego for its second bowl game of the calendar year, Iowa put 13 points on the scoreboard before BYU quarterback and 1990 Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer rallied the Cougars. The final score was a disappointment for everyone: 13-13, all tied up.

 

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